Monthly Archives: December 2020

Reroute: New Year Ichetucknee Upstream Paddle 2021-01-02

Update 2020-01-05 TV coverage.

Different entrance (South), different landing (Dampier’s)!

We’re going to paddle upstream and back, on this first paddle of 2021, all on the Ichetucknee River, within the Park. This is because we’re not doing a shuttle due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic spike, We will be checking temperatures with an infrared thermometer. If you feel at all sick with anything, please stay home. Wear masks on land (we will have extras) and keep your distance.

When: Gather 10:00 AM, Launch 10:30 AM, End 4:00 PM, Saturday, January 2, 2021

Put In: Dampier’s Landing, About a 10 minute walk from parking lot at South Entrance, 11627 SW Us Highway 27, Fort White, Florida 32071, in Columbia County.

GPS of South Entrance to Ichetucknee Springs S.P.: 29.9519915, -82.7753791

Bring boat wheels: otherwise that’s a long carry for a boat from parking to the landing.

Upstream: It’s only two miles up to the top spring. Ichetucknee Springs State Park tells us no Ichy Nippy Dip Day for 2021, also due to the virus pandemic. However, anybody who paddles all the way up can dip in the spring.
There will be current, but nobody has to paddle up any farther than they want to. There’s a good rest stop at Midpoint Landing, less than a mile up.

Take Out: Dampier’s Landing.
If you feel adventurous, you could paddle a mile farther downstrearm, all the way to the last takeout, South Landing. But if you do that, you need to get back more than half a mile by foot to your car. You’ll really need your boat wheels.

Bring: boat wheels and warm clothes! And the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

NOTE: The Ichetucknee is a non-disposable river; do not have any food or drinks in disposable packaging. All liquids and foods should be in reusable type containers. This helps keep litter out of our rivers.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Fee: There is a $5.00 park fee.

Event: facebook, meetup

[Map: Dampier's Landing in Ichetucknee Springs State Park]
Map: Dampier’s Landing in Ichetucknee Springs State Park,
in the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail.

Continue reading

Bad Nankin, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-28

Update 2021-01-04: Valdosta Mildred Street Sewage Spill, Alapaha River Basin 2021-01-02.

Valdosta got bad results at Nankin Boat Ramp for Monday (yesterday). Not as bad as the WWALS results for Friday, but bad enough. I’d avoid the Withlacoochee River downstream for now. We did get a good reading for Sunday upstream on the Suwannee River, though.

[Chart, River, Swim Guide]
Chart, River, Swim Guide

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting the Valdosta downstream results for yesterday published today. Also in the Valdosta update were results for last Monday and Wednesday. GA 133 did improve. We don’t yet know what it or US 84 or US 41 were like yesterday. Continue reading

Okefenokee news in the Georgia runoff elections 2020-12-29

The mine and the Swamp and the Georgia U.S. Senate runoffs are in the news, in the Albany Herald, the Saporta Report, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, plus my op-ed last week in the Valdosta Daily Times.

You can also contact the governor, the runoff candidates, and other elected officials:
https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

For why, see the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen.

[Mine, Swamp, River, Bird]
Mine, Swamp, River, Bird

So far, the only statement we’ve seen from any Georgia runoff candidate is in the AJC article:

Jenni Sweat, a spokeswoman for Perdue, said the office received regular updates on the Twin Pines project as they do with many other Corps projects. “This presents an economic development opportunity in rural Southeast Georgia that local officials support, and our office has monitored its status through the federal and state regulatory process,” said Sweat in a statement.

Let’s also hear from the other U.S. Senate candidates, Jon Ossoff, Kelly Loeffler, and Raphael Warnock. And let’s hear from candidates for Public Service Commission, Daniel Blackman, and Lauren Bubba McDonald. If nothing else, the miners will probably want more electric power for their mine site, so that makes it a PSC issue, too.

Albany Herald

Staff reports, Albany Herald, 29 December 2020, Environmental groups ask governor to stop mine near Okefenokee,

HAHIRA — Environmental groups, including the Suwannee Riverkeeper and the WWALS Watershed Coalition, have sent a letter to Gov. Brian Kemp asking him to stop the proposed titanium strip mine from being allowed within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp in south Georgia and north Florida.

The letter, which lays out evidence to support the groups’ request, states: Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Snow Moon Paddle, 2021-02-27

Maybe the bats will be flying by end of February. Dress warmly, and we’ll amble by boat around our watery living room, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge. to watch the sun set and the moon rise, and to see if the bats are awake.

First, we will use the WWALS infrared thermometer to check temperatures. If you’re ill in any way, please stay home. Once you get there, there is plenty of room on the boat ramp to distance, and on the water everybody is usually pretty far apart anyway. Wear a mask on land, and we will have some available. No shuttle is needed.

Don’t forget the two earlier full moon paddles, 2020-12-29 and 2021-01-28.

When: Gather 5:45 PM, launch 6 PM, end 8 PM, Saturday, February 27, 2021

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County.

GPS: 31.035097, -83.097045

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Lights: You must have a light for your boat or some type of light to have on yourself (glow sticks work well, or head lamp, flashlight, etc.) so other boaters can see you in the dark. It will be totally dark after sunset. You must wear a PFD. A whistle is not required, but it’s a good idea in the dark. Mosquitoes can be bad at dusk so come prepared.

Boats: Kayaks are available to borrow but please let us know at least 2 days prior to the event. Bring your own if you have it. Thanks to Banks Lake Outdoors for free boat rental for these WWALS Full Moon Paddles.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net//donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Many paddlers]
Many paddlers
on 2020-10-31.

Continue reading

Protecting our waters from a strip mine –Suwannee Riverkeeper in Valdosta Daily Times 2020-12-23

“Dear runoff candidates: What will you do to stop this proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp?”

You can also ask that question of those candidates and of the Georgia governor and other elected officials:
https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

[Dateline, Op-ed]
Dateline, Op-ed

The op-ed in the Valdosta Daily Times of December 23, 2020, was slightly shortened. Below is what I sent, including links to references.

A company from Alabama, Twin Pines Minerals LLC, proposes to strip-mine for titanium dioxide for paint within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp. Twin Pines is under a Florida Consent Order for titanium mines in north Florida. Its president was a proponent of the Franklin County, Georgia, biomass plant that caused a massive fish kill. The state had to pass a law to stop it from burning railroad ties. https://wwals.net/?p=53931

The miners have promised jobs, from 150 to 300, with no specifics. And at what cost?

A sign at I-75 Exit 16 for Valdosta says: “Okefenokee Swamp… 62 Miles.” The Swamp is an internationally-known treasure that Continue reading

Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin, Christmas Day, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-25

Update 2020-12-29: Bad Nankin, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-28.

Merry Christmas, although this isn’t a preseent anybody would want. Michael and Jacob Bachrach tested Friday after Thursday’s rains, and got really bad results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp and bad enough at Nankin on the Withlacoochee River. State Line Boat Ramp has probably gotten the contamination washed down there by now, and into Florida.

Meanwhile, last we heard from Valdosta, both US 41 and GA 133 had bad results for Monday after rain last Sunday.

We do have some good results from the Suwannee and Alapaha Rivers from before the Thursday rain. Since there is much less manure upstream on those rivers, chances are they stayed cleaner after the storm, but we have no more recent test results for those.

[Bad water quality, Withlacoochee River]
Bad water quality, Withlacoochee River

The Bachrachs did try to count the E. coli colonies on the Knights Ferry plates, and the result would have been more than 8,000 cfu/100 mL, way above the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit of 1,000. Yet when the plate background turns purple like that, AAS says to call it TNTC for Too Many to Count. I’d avoid that water. Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Wolf Moon Paddle, 2021-01-28

First full moon paddle of the year. Dress warmly, and we’ll amble by boat around our watery living room, Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge. to watch the sun set and the moon rise, and to see if the bats are awake.

First, we will use the WWALS infrared thermometer to check temperatures. If you’re ill in any way, please stay home. Once you get there, there is plenty of room on the boat ramp to distance, and on the water everybody is usually pretty far apart anyway. Wear a mask on land, and we will have some available. No shuttle is needed.

When: Gather 5:15 PM, launch 5:30 PM, end 7:30 PM, Tuesday, January 28, 2021

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County.

GPS: 31.035097, -83.097045

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Lights: You must have a light for your boat or some type of light to have on yourself (glow sticks work well, or head lamp, flashlight, etc.) so other boaters can see you in the dark. It will be totally dark after sunset. You must wear a PFD. A whistle is not required, but it’s a good idea in the dark. Mosquitoes can be bad at dusk so come prepared.

Boats: Kayaks are available to borrow but please let us know at least 2 days prior to the event. Bring your own if you have it. Thanks to Banks Lake Outdoors for free boat rental for these WWALS Full Moon Paddles.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net//donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Heading out]
Heading out on October 31, 2020.

Continue reading

Watch out: contamination washing downstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-21

Update 2020-12-27: Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin, Christmas Day, Withlacoochee River 2020-12-25.

Sometimes you hate to be right: the high E. coli WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach saw Thursday at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp turned up for Friday in Valdosta’s results. Probably that contamination washed on down past the state line into Florida over the weekend.

[Watch out: US 41, GA 133, Knights Ferry, Nankin, Withlacoochee River]
Watch out: US 41, GA 133, Knights Ferry, Nankin, Withlacoochee River on Swim Guide.

Plus, after rain Sunday, Valdosta got too-high results at US 41 and GA 133. That’s probably still washing downstream now. Continue reading

Pictures: Up Bethel Creek to Quarry from Suwannee River 2020-07-18

Update 2020-12-27: Same pictures on facebook.

During the Suwannee River camping at Dowling Park River Camp last summer, two intrepid paddlers joined me to paddle up Bethel Creek to the quarry in Lafayette County, Florida, and up to the other quarry, and again, and over.

[Bethel Creek rapids, boats, downstream]
Bethel Creek rapids, boats, downstream

Megan Parker has had the full experience, and Jose helped. Continue reading

Lowndes County repairing collapsed manhole at Bevel Creek lift station 2020-09-02

Eagle-eye WWALS member Amy Hope Jackson spotted trucks next to Bevel Creek off of Loch Laurel Road near Lake Park, in Lowndes County Georgia, on GA 376, on September 2, 2020. This is upstream from Jumping Gully Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

[Location, Bevel Creek Lift Station, manhole collapse, trucks, RPI]
Location, Bevel Creek Lift Station, manhole collapse, trucks, RPI

Turns out they were implementing the $82,000.00 Bevel Creek Manhole Emergency Repair approved by the Lowndes County Commission on June 22, 2020.

This seemed likely since one of the trucks said RPI, and the winning bidder was RPI Underground. I confirmed with Lowndes County Utilities Director Steve Stalvey that this was indeed that repair.

Please remember Lowndes County has a separate sewer system from Valdosta, and Lowndes County has not spilled sewage in many months, apparently due to proactively upgrading the county sewer system. Continue reading