Monthly Archives: June 2022

Major sewage spill, Gornto Pump Station, Valdosta, GA 2022-06-30

Update 2022-07-01: Sewage spill decreased and stopped at Gornto Road Pump Station, Valdosta, GA 2022-06-30.

There’s a major sewage spill going on right now at Valdosta’s Gornto Road Pump Station, next to the YMCA on Gornto Road. This is according to Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, who called me at 5:18 PM today.

He told me he thinks it will probably be a 100,000 gallon spill. For reference, 10,000 gallons is a major spill.

The cause was apparently a steel pipe that broke.

The spill has been reported to GA-EPD, I’m guessing by telephone.

[Gornto Pump Station, Map]
Gornto Pump Station, Map

The Mayor said they tried rerouting to the Remer Lane Pump Station, but that one fills up, and the sewage comes back. They have thought of a more permanent fix, but that will require some rebuilding.

Meanwhile, numerous city and contractor personnel are en route to the site.

I thank the Mayor for calling WWALS.

WWALS member Bobby McKenzie noticed it at 5PM when he picked up his children from the Y, and he sent the picture. Continue reading

Sugar Creek trash boom after 1.5 inches rain 2022-06-29

Update 2022-07-05: Click ‘n’ Fix of uncleaned Sugar Creek WaterGoat 2022-06-30.

Substantial trash washed into the new WaterGoat trash boom on Sugar Creek in Valdosta after only 1.5 inches of rain yesterday.

Since then, upstream gauges recorded more than 2 inches, and some gauges around Lowndes County measured 3 and even 4 inches.

[Trash composite]
Trash composite

Valdosta needs to come up with a plan for cleaning out that trash boom, before that trash washes on down into the Withlacoochee River.. And get more trash booms and do something about upstream trash.

In good news, the Zacadoos on Ashley Street now has trash cans in its parking lot. Since we have often found Zacadoos discarded cups in the creeks, that’s really good. Yay, Zacadoos! Continue reading

Pictures: Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River, Troupville 2022-06-25

Five of us with five or six chainsaws cleared more than three log jams out of the Withlacoochee River above the Little River Confluence, and collected some trash, in the Chainsaw cleanup, Troupville Boat Ramp to Withlacoochee River 2022-06-25.

[banners, boats, sandbars, and saws]
banners, boats, sandbars, and saws

We’ll be back at it after about six weeks, i.e., probably in August. The current goal is to clear the stretches from Langdale Park Boat Ramp past Sugar Creek, and on around to Troupville Boat Ramp. Fortunately there are no log jams on the Little River from the ramp to the Confluence, but there are plenty left on the Withlacoochee River. Stay tuned. Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals sues Army Corps about oversight of strip mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2022-06-27

Well, that did not take long. Only three weeks after an Assistant Secretary of the Army told the Army Corps it had to resume oversight of the proposed titanium-dioxide strip mine site too near the Okefenokee Swamp, the miners have sued the Corps. They still want to strip mine for white paint materials within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, an economic engine for southeast Georgia and northeast Florida, and an irreplaceable refuge for numerous land, water, and bird species. That Swamp is the headwaters of the St Marys and Suwannee Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink in south Georgia and north Florida, including for agriculture and industry. There must be better sources of jobs for Charlton County, Georgia.

[Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2022-02-12]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2020-02-12, 30.52081, -82.1261

Mary Landers, The Current, June 27, 2022, Mining company sues Army Corps over project near Okefenokee: Twin Pines claims agency erred in overturning decision and seeking Muscogee Nation’s input.

Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals filed suit against the Army Corps of Engineers last week, claiming the federal agency erred when it bowed to “stakeholder pressure” earlier this month and made it harder for the company to get permits to mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

…In its filing, Twin Pines maintains “The Twin Pines Approved Jurisdictional Determinations were issued in compliance with all laws, regulations, and policies — including the tribal consultation policy — in effect when they were issued.”

More specifically, the company contends Continue reading

HPS II drops Union County phosphate mine lawsuit 2022-06-23

Last Thursday, Kate Ellison posted on her facebook page the news that HPS II had dropped its lawsuit against Union County, Florida, which had been going on since 2019.

The miners were attempting to overturn Union County’s rejection of their phosphate mining permit applicaiton, and Union County’s changed land development regulations that prohibited such mining except in a small area. This is big news, although there may be more to come, and there are implications as far away as the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

[Union County Times, Nutrien Phosphate Mine]
Union County Times, Nutrien Phosphate Mine

Suwannee Riverkeeper has opposed this mine since 2017, because it is uphill from the New River which flows into the Santa Fe River and then the Suwannee River, and above the Floridan Aquifer. Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) has been in the middle of this opposition all along, so, not surprisingly, OSFR has posted an extensive review, see below, naming many of the other people involved.

I’d also like to mention that, Continue reading

Trash boom good; more needed –Suwannee Riverkeeper @ VCC 2022-06-23

Fixing Valdosta’s trash problem would cost far less than a single sewer line. Thanks for starting by putting in one trash boom; thanks especially to Council Andy Gibbs and Mayor Scott James, who have come and helped clean up on Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River.

Now what’s the plan to clean that one out? When will we see the other two or more trash booms? And where’s the plan to get businesses to stop trash upstream at the source?

[Valdosta Mayor and Council, trash boom, Holly Street]
Valdosta Mayor and Council, trash boom, Holly Street

At their meeting last Thursday, I thanked Valdosta Mayor and Council Continue reading

Alapahoochee Adventure, GA 135, 2022-07-09

A rugged adventure on a 3-mile obstacle course, not for beginners.

There is plenty of deadfall to pull over, under, and around, but this narrow stretche of the Alapahoochee River is knee-to-hip deep so getting in and out of boats isn’t difficult. Each boat needs a rope. There are 2 sets of low rapids that will require a rope to lower your kayak down. The water is too low to paddle through. Wear sturdy shoes for climbing through wet rocks. Bring your lightest and shortest boat.

You will be rewarded with beautiful scenery, a chance to find shark’s teeth in a side creek, paddle under one of the oldest surviving truss bridges in Florida, scramble down rapids, and cool off with a swim at Turket Falls.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 2 PM, Saturday, July 9, 2022

Put In: GA 135 Alapahoochee Landing. North side of road, left bank, 3/4 mile upstream of the GA-FL line and west of Pear Tree Lane, between Jennings and Statenville, in Echols County, Georgia.

GPS: 30.62845, -83.0893

Take Out: Sasser Landing on the Alapaha River.

Bring: short boat, rope, sturdy shoes, 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.

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/outings

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

Event: facebook, meetup

[Photo: Shirley Kokidko, Devil Shoal, 2022:06:23 12:29:43, 30.6106917, -83.0754861]
Photo: Shirley Kokidko, Devil Shoal, 2022:06:23 12:29:43, 30.6106917, -83.0754861

Continue reading

Bad Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-23

Update 2022-07-01: Bad Water Quality, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30.

Update 2022-06-25: Plus Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers also clean, thanks to Pam Thomas and the TREPO crew.

Not good at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River: 1,333 cfu/100 mL E. coli, above the alert level of 1,000. That was a Thursday sample, so watch out downstream. This is puzzling, since there has been no rain to speak of. Also, no sewage spills have been reported in Georgia or Florida in the Suwannee River Basin. Yet chances are something came down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia. Sure, it could have been wild hogs directly on the river, but that’s less likely. Maybe there was more rain in Brooks County than the stations we use reported. Or maybe there was a sewage spill that has not yet been reported.

Everywhere else tested by WWALS Thursday was good: Little, Alapaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers.

The most recent Valdosta downstream results were for Monday, and was clean. The most recent Valdosta upstream were for Friday (apparently Valdosta city staff took Monday off for the new Juneteenth holiday), and were also clean, after the high GA 133 results last week.

So I’d avoid the Withlacoochee River from Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on down this weekend. Elsewhere looks good for boating, swimming, and fishing.

Thundershowers are expected this weekend, so conditions could change rapidly.

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

Thanks to Continue reading

Valdosta Adopt-A-Street Program 2022-06-20

Also good. Now how about those fast food outlets and their parking lots?

Valdosta Press Release, June 20, 2022, Love Where You Live Adopt-A-Street Program,

[Adopt-A-Street, Gornto Road, Moody Air Force Base 2013-03-15]
Adopt-A-Street, Gornto Road, Moody Air Force Base, March 15, 2013, Valdosta road kept clean and green by AFSA Ch. 460.

The City of Valdosta’s (Love Where You Live) Adopt-A-Street Program aids in beautifying the city by cleaning up litter and debris on local roadways. The program allows organizations, businesses, or individuals to pick a street they want to take care of for at least a one-year contract. All city streets are eligible for adoption, with the exclusion of those that have active contracts.

There is no monetary fee Continue reading

Valdosta Watergoat installed in Sugar Creek 2022-06-21

Two years of politics and less than an hour to install. And a fun summer solstice celebration!

[Delivery, installation, WaterGoat]
Delivery, installation, WaterGoat

Today the WaterGoat the Valdosta Mayor announced a month ago was installed on Sugar Creek, where it should stop trash from getting into the Withlacoochee River.

This first trash boom (a steel cable with floats and a 12-inch mesh below it) is a good start. Continue reading