More Recreational redesignation of waterbodies still possible –GA-EPD 2021-09-01

In addition to the Alapaha and Withlacoochee River segments GA-EPD has accepted to be redesignated Recreational, according to today’s update letter several others still could be considered with certain additional information, and still more can be nominated. This would be for the next Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards, which starts next year, 2022.

Read the whole thing here: PDF.

Excerpts related to the Suwannee River Basin are below. I’ve added a few comments in [square brackets].

The following waterbody segments are being proposed for designated use change to recreation for the 2019 Triennial Review. EPD has received complete nomination packages for each of these waterbody segments, including thorough documentation of year-round primary contact recreation throughout the length of the segment, current and planned investment data, and letters of support from community and stakeholders. A map of these waterbody segments can be found at
https://arcg.is/1i0ezv

[Stretches redesignated Recreational]
Stretches redesignated Recreational on the GA-EPD map.

  • Alapaha River – Cherry Creek to Stateline
  • Alapaha River – Willacoochee River to Dampier Branch
    [Those two Alapaha River stretches omit Sheboggy Boat Ramp downstream from Alapaha, and Lakeland Boat Ramp, Pafford’s Landing, and Rowetown Church Landing downstream from Lakeland.]
  • Withlacoochee River – Tiger Creek to State Line

[Plus Reed Bingham State Park Lake on the Little River was already Recreational, even though it does not appear on the above GA-EPD map. The rest of the Little River we can resubmit.]

Incomplete nomination packages were received for the following waterbodies. EPD will continue to solicit information from the nominators to complete these packages. If EPD receives complete nomination packages, EPD will review the complete packages and consider changing the designated use of these waterbodies to recreation as part of the 2022 Triennial Review:

Missing Documentation of year-round primary contact recreation:

  • Okefenokee Swamp – All waters within the boundaries of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Area
    [That’s difficult for the Swamp, because GA-EPD does not count boating as primary contact: has to be swimming, diving, or water skiing.]
  • Suwannee River – Suwannee River Sill to Stateline
    [Well, we can document that for the Suwannee River at least.

Missing both the above and Location of investments in waterbody:

  • Banks Lake — Banks Lake
    [I thought we included Banks Lake Boat Ramp, the new dock, Banks Lake Outpost, etc., but maybe we forgot. For swimming, maybe we start a tradition of a dip at the boat ramp.]
  • Grand Bay Trail – Grand Bay Creek and Trail located within the Grand Bay WMA
    [Grand Bay WMA is operated by GA-DNR, the parent body of GA-EPD, so I’m not clear on how they can not know the investments in there.]

Missing Community and stakeholder letters of support:

  • Withlacoochee River—Highway 37 to Tiger Creek to State Line

[If all GA-EPD needs is more support letters, those can probably be found.]

[And it’s a big win that they will consider all the way downstream from GA 37, which is the location of Youngs Mill Creek Landing and Ray City Landing at the top of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. Which presumably means they’ve dropped their 20-mile or 10-mile guideline for downstream of NPDES-permitted wastewater facilities.]

If you have questions regarding the information necessary to complete the nomination package, please contact Gillian Gilbert-Wason at gillian.wason@dnr.ga.gov.

EPD will consider other waterbodies, including those previously nominated, for a designated use change as part of the 2022 Triennial Review. Nominators should be prepared to submit complete nomination packages, including thorough documentation of year-round primary contact recreation throughout the length of the segment, current and planned investment data, and letters of support from the community and stakeholders.

EPD will be hosting a public meeting on September 13, 2021, to discuss the 2019 Triennial Review, including designated use changes. Meeting details and login information can be found here:
https://epd.georgia.gov/document/document/epdpublicmeetingnoticetriennialreview09132021finalpdf/download.

A working draft of the proposed rule amendments was posted on the EPD website on August 11, 2021. The most up to date version of the draft can be found here: Working Draft of Proposed Rule Change, 391-03-06.03 — 8/30/2021 and on the EPD Water Quality Standards website.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

[signed]

Elizabeth A. Booth

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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