River gauges, Comprehensive Plan, Planning Commission: Three Lowndes County Meetings 2021-10-25

In Lowndes County, Georgia, three meetings today and tomorrow affect water, including the Little and Withlacoochee Rivers, upstream from Florida:

That’s right: two of the meetings are at the same time today, and two of the meetings have no agendas posted. What we know so far is below. For detailed updates of these Lowndes County meetings, follow Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE):

If there are especially interesting water developments, I will also post here for WWALS.

[Character Area Map, River Gauges]
Character Area Map, River Gauges

Comprehensive Plan Update

5:30 PM Tuesday 2021-10-26: No agenda posted for Public Hearing to Review and Transmit the 2021 Comprehensive Plan Update by Lowndes County Commission

Address: 327 N. Ashley Street, 2nd Floor Commission Chamber, Valdosta, GA 31601

This is the meeting that could have the most effect on water. No agenda is posted, and no updates to the Lowndes County Character Area map since the one shown here, which was prepared for a September 28th meeting.

We’ll find out at 5:30 PM this Tuesday whether the Character Area Map for Lowndes County will change. Two sources tell me that it won’t for this update of the Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan, except for some tinkery fixes not in the northwest part of the county.

But many of us thought the County Commission might listen to the thousand people who signed a petition against subdivisions farther northwest of Valdosta towards Hahira and GA 122. But two weeks ago the Commissioners approved a subdivision way up Val Del Road almost to GA 122, in the middle of an agricultural and forest area, far out of any appropriate Character Area.

That rezoning could have effects on local water runoff, and that leads to a creek that goes into the Withlacoochee River. Additional clearcutting and impervious surface always contributes to runoff and potentially to contaminants washed into waterways and to flooding. This subdivision is intended to have septic tanks. Eventually, the county is likely to run water and sewer up there, expanding sprawl even farther up Val Del Road, with more such effects.

So if you care, be there.

[Character Area Map 2021-09-28 Courtesy Lowndes County Planner JD Dillard]
Character Area Map 2021-09-28 Courtesy Lowndes County Planner JD Dillard

I have asked for updates, including to this table of acreage changes per Character Area that was in the 2016 update.

[Table: acreage changes, Character Areas, 2016 Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan Update]
Table: acreage changes, Character Areas, 2016 Lowndes County Comprehensive Plan Update

Greater Lowndes Planning Commission

5:30 PM Monday 2021-10-25: No agenda posted for Greater Lowndes Planning Commission

Address: South Health District Administrative Office
325 West Savannah Avenue, Valdosta, GA 31601

Thanks to Hahira (and Valdosta) City Planner Matt Martin for all we know so far. Yes, the meeting will take place as scheduled. And there is at least one Hahira case for rezoning 5.4 acres for an “office/commercial complex” between Jacquelyn Street and Coleman Road on the east side of Church Street. That’s in the Little River watershed, upstream from the creek that runs through the Hahira wastewater treatment ponds. That rezoning seems likely to have little effect on water.

We don’t yet know what else may be on the agenda.

Funding river gauges

5:30 PM Monday 2021-10-25: Continued funding for two river gauges at the Lowndes County Commission

Address: 327 N. Ashley Street, 2nd Floor Commission Chamber, Valdosta, GA 31601

Continued funding for two river gauges is the only significant decision on a very brief agenda for the Lowndes County Commission 8:30 AM Monday morning, and voting 5:30 PM that same Monday (today).

One of them used to be funded by Valdosta, which it primarily benefits, but Lowndes County picked up that one back in 2019. The other the county has been funding since 2009; it’s at the same Little River location that at its last meeting the Commission fortunately decided not to close to the public, perhaps thanks to the help of those of you said it needed to stay open for swimming, fishing, and boating.

The two USGS gauges are at Folsom Bridge on GA 122 on the Little River west of Hahira, and at Skipper Bridge on the Withlacoochee River north of Valdosta.

Lowndes County has been funding $14,200 for the Folsom Bridge gauge since shortly after the big flood of 2009. Note that this the same Little River site that the Commssion in its last meeting decided not to close to the public by not closing Wells Road.

Here are LAKE videos of their October 2012 Work Session and Regular Session on the annual decision to continue funding for the Folsom Bridge gauge. Here’s a LAKE report with links to video of an explanation by Emergency Director Ashley Tye at their 2013 decision meeting on the Folsom Bridge gauge.

[Folsom Bridge @ GA 122, Little River, USGS Gauge 02318380]
Folsom Bridge @ GA 122, Little River, USGS Gauge 02318380.

Back in 2019 Valdosta ceased paying for its part of the Skipper Bridge gauge, apparently because Valdosta discovered that location is not within its city limits, and Lowndes County picked up that cost of $8,300. The rest for Skipper Bridge is paid by USGS ($900) and Florida’s Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD, $5,900).

[Skipper Bridge, Withlacoochee River, USGS Gauge 023177483]
Skipper Bridge, Withlacoochee River, USGS Gauge 023177483.

As you can see by the USGS location map, it’s rather ironic that Valdosta is not paying for the Skipper Bridge gauge, since it’s the source of water levels for the USGS Flood Inundation Mapper (FIM), for the Withlacoochee River floodplain from Skipper Bridge to GA 133, which primarily benefits Valdosta.


Valdosta does continue to pay towards the US 41 (North Valdosta Road) Withlacoochee River gauge.

This year the Lowndes County costs went up $450 total, to $14,500 for Folsom Bridge and $8,450 for Skipper Bridge, for a total of $22,950.00.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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