Monthly Archives: March 2023

Clean Withlacoochee River 2023-03-30

Update 2023-04-07: Clean Withlacoochee River 2023-04-06.

Best to paddle, swim, and fish tomorrow morning. Rains are predicted tomorrow.

But until then, all the water quality tests we have are good, for the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide map 2023-03-30]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide map 2023-03-30

No new sewage spills have been reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia in the past week.

But High Springs had a 150-gallon spill. That small an amount and apparently inland should have no effect on the Santa Fe River or its springs.

Thanks to WWALS tester Continue reading

High Springs, FL, sewage spill 2023-03-30

Update 2023-03-31: Clean Rivers 2023-03-30.

No new sewage spills have been reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia in the past week.

[Map: FDEP PNP, High Springs 50-gallon spill, 2023-03-30]
Map: FDEP PNP, High Springs 50-gallon spill, 2023-03-30

But there was a tiny one in Florida yesterday, that was very unlikely to have any effect on the Santa Fe River.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Public Notice of Pollution (PNP) Finder: Last 30 Days, accessed 2023-03-31, Continue reading

Yet Another Cleanup Knights Ferry to Nankin, Withlacoochee River, 2023-04-08

Update 2023-05-02: Pictures: Cleanup below Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2023-04-08.

Clean up more trash jams we found last time on the Withlacoochee River. Plus someone has reported a trashjam blocking the river.

All Valdosta city officials are invited, especially Mayor, Council, City Manager, City Engineer, Stormwater Manager, and, as special guests, the City Marshalls. If you don’t have a boat, we will supply one.

Russell promises to grill hamburgers at the end.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 3 PM, Saturday, April 8, 2023

Put In: Knights Ferry Boat Ramp

GPS: 30.71205, -83.45554

[Cleanup at floating trash jam, banners at start 2022-12-17]
Cleanup at floating trash jam, banners at start 2022-12-17

Last Time: Pictures: Another Knights Ferry to Nankin Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2022-12-17. Continue reading

PFAS in sewage sludge as fertilizer 2023-03-30

Human sewage sludge used as fertilizer is a huge problem in Florida, causing algae blooms when it runs off into waterways. In Georgia, distributing sewage sludge as fertilizer may not be as common, but some Land Application Sites (LAS) rent their spray fields for growing hay or other crops. Plus such waste may also carry cancer-causing forever chemicals: PFAS.

[Sewage sludge in Florida --WLRN 2023-06-02]
Sewage sludge in Florida –WLRN 2023-06-02

Jenny Staletovich, WLRN 91.3 FM, June 2, 2021, State Tightens Rules For Sewage Sludge Used As Fertilizer But Leaves A Loophole In Place,

As damaging algae blooms continue to afflict Florida, the state is taking steps to crack down on and track pollution from biosolids, the waste from sewage plants loaded with nutrients that can fuel blooms.

But the new rules, conservationists warn, continue to ignore a loophole for about 40% of the state’s waste.

Continue reading

Valdosta Creek Trash Tour 2023-03-29

Yesterday I found trash still in Valdosta creeks where previously reported, on Hightower Creek, One Mile Branch, and Two Mile Branch.

Sure, the Two Mile Branch cleanup last Saturday was fun and necessary. But Valdosta, A City Without Limits on its own facebook report said nothing about more trash traps, and nothing about enforcing its own city ordinances that require businesses to keep their property clean, to keep trash out of waterways, and to strategically place trash cans where people will use them.

Valdosta has been promising at least since 2007, sixteen years ago, to do something about this ongoing trash spill problem. The city has taken a few steps, especially since City Engineer Ben O’Dowd was hired.

Time to walk the talk, Valdosta. There is more to do.

[Trash, Two Mile Branch, One Mile Branch, Hightower Creek, 2023-03-29]
Trash, Two Mile Branch, One Mile Branch, Hightower Creek, 2023-03-29

Where Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson stood in December 2022, at the bottom of the parking lot on St. Augustine Road above Hightower Creek, trash is still there, tossed by lunchers, with no trash cans nearby.

Behind the Mega Mart at Valloton Drive and Lee Street, trash continues to wash down into One Mile Branch, clearly visible from the Azalea City Trail, Valdosta’s only urban hiking trail. Despite a Click ‘n’ Fix report on March 8, 2023, the only action we’ve seen from City Marshalls was a week later, “The city is working with the property owner to correct the issues.”

And trash continues to dribble into Two Mile Branch above Ashley Street, most of a week after the last pictures I took there, with the Click ‘n’ Fix ticket closed again by City Marshalls,

Meanwhile, the Lee Street Detention Pond Trash Trap has been modified by high water, when it caught leaves and the force of the water bent the steel. The city has taken the top off the trash trap. Here’s hoping they will continue to improve this model for more use here and elsewhere. Continue reading

Notice: WWALS Quarterly Board meeting 2023-04-16

Update 2023-04-16: Agenda and zoom parameters.

Update 2023-03-30: The correct date is Sunday, April 16.

WWALS President Sara Jay will preside over the WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting. The public is invited.

We will be discussing the BIG Little River Paddle Event, the WWALS Gala including the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, and other outings and cleanups: see As well as trash, sewage, water quality testing, opposition to mines (titanium and phosphate), water withdrawals, coal ash, pellet plants, and LNG export, as well as promotion of water trails and solar power: see And of course finances. New WWALS Development Director Veronica Oakler will report.

That’s for the entire 10,000 square mile Suwannee River Basin, in Georgia and Florida, including the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, Little Alapaha, Little times two, New times two, Black, Dead, Sampson, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers, and all their creeks, springs, sinks, ponds, and swamps, such as Grand Bay, Banks Lake and the Okefenokee Swamp.

When: 6 PM to 8 PM, Sunday, April 16, 2023

Where: Online via zoom, so you don’t even have to go anywhere. The zoom parameters will follow, as will an agenda.

[Square WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper logos] Continue reading

Trash still dribbling from 2695 N Ashley St into Two Mile Branch 2023-02-24

Update 2023-03-29: Valdosta Creek Trash Tour 2023-03-29.

Why did Valdosta City Marshalls close this Click’n’Fix ticket when nothing has been cleaned up?

[Trash, Two Mile Branch upstream from Ashley Street 2023-03-24]
Trash, Two Mile Branch upstream from Ashley Street 2023-03-24

It took nine days for City Marshals to make any response, then they said they would notify the property owner and closed the ticket.

I went there the next day and photographed the same trash in the same locations, plus I took more pictures of more trash upstream.

Today, March 29, 2023, when I asked why the ticket was closed and posted more pictures, the City Marshalls said “The ticket was closed because a citation was written and there is now an open case with the City Marshal’s. We have to legally give the property owner a certain amount of time to address the issue.”

That is new information, and a welcome change from just notifying the property owner.

But why did the City Marshalls again close the ticket? The problem has not been fixed.

In the next big rain, trash will wash down Two Mile Branch into Sugar Creek. If it is not caught by the WaterGoat there, it will wash into the Withlacoochee River. All along the way it is a health hazard to humans, and wildlife eat the trash, especially styrofoam, and cannot digest it. Continue reading

Videos: Upper and Middle Suwannee River MFL Peer Review Meeting 2023-03-15

Update 2023-04-26: Upper and Middle Suwannee River MFL webinar and followon WebBoard meetings 2023-05-02.

SRWMD considered everything from water levels needed for paddling and other boating, to fish passage depths, to Gulf Sturgeon spawning depth. The sturgeon won, with the least allowable flow reduction at the median. This was for all of the reference gauges for both stretches of the river. Which means Gulf Sturgeon determine the minimum flow levels and depths for both the Upper and Middle Suwannee River. The draft MFLs are already in the report.

[Reviewers, MFL, Public Comment 2022-03-15]
Reviewers, MFL, Public Comment 2022-03-15

As one of the three speakers in the Public Comment agenda item, I got surprising agreement on two points. I said that while limiting water withdrawals might not be within the scope of this process, nonetheless the sensitivity map for the Suwannee River at Ellaville indicated that this process could study what would happen with various potential water withdrawals in various locations. And this process could study the effects of different aquifer replenishment methods. Continue reading

Correction: Pickleball courts to be on other side of Two Mile Branch from 2007-proposed detention pond 2023-03-07

Update 2023-03-29: Trash still dribbling from 2695 N Ashley St into Two Mile Branch 2023-02-24.

At the cleanup Saturday of Two Mile Branch at Berkeley Drive, Valdosta City Engineer Benjamin O’Dowd poinged out a mistake in the post on Trash in Valdosta Two Mile Branch Watershed Management Plan, November 2007.

The pickleball courts will not actually be at the same location as the detention pond between Roosevelt Drive and Two Mile Branch at Oak Street. Instead, they will be on the other side of Two Mile Branch, next to the tennis courts.

[Pickleball Courts Location, Groundbreaking, 2007 Detention Pond]
Pickleball Courts Location, Groundbreaking, 2007 Detention Pond

My mistake. I should not have gone by hearsay, even though two people independently told me the location they thought the pickleball courts would be. Thanks to the City Engineer for pointing out my mistake.

Which doesn’t change the main point of the previous post: sixteen years later, none of the four detention ponds on Two Mile Branch in the 2007 implementation schedule have been built, nor have any other trash detention facilities been put on Two Mile Branch at Berkley Drive or Oak Street.

I thank Ben O’Dowd for promising to put trash traps at those locations.

But why were those people who told me that confused?

There’s nothing ambiguous about where the 2007 plan put the Oak Street detention pond: between Two Mile Branch and Roosevelt Drive east of Oak Street. Continue reading

Raffle kayak: Vibe Sea Ghost 130, 2023-03-10

Update 2023-11-30: Winner of the VIBE Sea Ghost 130 kayak raffle 2023-11-27.

Update 2023-11-20: The winning ticket will be drawn before we paddle on the Banks Lake Full Beaver Moon Paddle 2023-11-27.

This Vibe Sea Ghost 130 retails for $1,300, but Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson gave it to WWALS. He says he used it once.

It comes with paddle, seat, and rudder.

[Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman]
Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman

The raffle drawing will be in November in time for holiday giving.

Tickets are $10 each or $50 for six:

Kayak Raffle Tickets

You can also get tickets at any WWALS outing or event.

According to Continue reading