Monthly Archives: January 2024

Spill from Chemours Trail Ridge South TiO2 mine SE of Starke, FL 2024-01-30

Update 2024-02-03: Clean Santa Fe and Withlacoochee Rivers 2024-02-01.

The Chemours Trail Ridge South titanium dioxide mine yesterday and today spilled Stormwater or Process water.

This is according to a report this afternoon in the daily Pollution Notice by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

Chemours says there was no problem:

Water from reclamation cell was not contained and turbid water left the permitted facility and entered adjacent wetland. This water does not contain any hazardous materials. upon discovery, dozers reinforced the berm to contain water. Monitoring and assessment ini

Yes, it really ends in the middle of a word. Probably we will request the followup test results from FDEP.

[Stormwater or Process water spill from Chemours Trail Ridge South TiO2 mine, Starke, FL 2024-01-30-31]
Stormwater or Process water spill from Chemours Trail Ridge South TiO2 mine, Starke, FL 2024-01-30-31

So where did this wastewater go? The report includes latitude and longitude: 29.906479033014865, -82.0576515197747.

That turns out to be more than a mile from the Chemours Trail Ridge South Mine, and almost a mile from the Trail Ridge Mine. The report does not explain why so far. Continue reading

Sugar Creek to Troupville Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River, 2024-02-11

Update : Pictures: Sugar Creek to Troupville Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-02-11.

Come help clean up the Withlacoochee River behind the Valdosta YMCA and onwards to the Little River Confluence, then upstream on the Little River to Troupville Boat Ramp.

Bring a chainsaw if you really know how to use it, but you do not have to saw to join us.

You can help by taking pictures, moving sawed branches out of the way, or collecting trash.

We’ve already done this stretch more than once, but we know there’s at least one big deadfall between GA 133 and I-75, and we do not know what Hurricane Idalia added. Bring a rope on each end of your boat in case of portages.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 9:30 AM, end 4 PM, Sunday, February 11, 2024

Put In: Meet at the back of the Berta’s Pizza Kitchen parking lot, 1405 Gornto Rd, Valdosta, GA 31602 and we’ll go to the put-in from there.

GPS: 30.861764, -83.318854

[Crowe Deadfall 2022-07-30; Riverhill Drive Deadfall 2022-10-16; Sugar Creek to Troupville Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-02-11]
Crowe Deadfall 2022-07-30; Riverhill Drive Deadfall 2022-10-16; Sugar Creek to Troupville Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-02-11

Continue reading

Training: Water Quality Testing 2024-02-10

Update This class will be ALL in person at John W. Saunders Park, Pavilion #3.

You can learn how to help test water quality in the Suwannee River Basin.

WWALS testing trainer Gretchen Quarterman will do the classroom portion of the course by zoom, followed by hands-on practical training at a waterway with physical distancing. will teach both chemical and bacterial training in person. There is a classroom portion with demonstration, followed by practical and test for each class. Classroom materials will be provided. The tests are on paper and are to be taken on-site.

This is both Chemical and Bacterial training by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (AAS) methods.

Yes, we can and do use this in Florida as well as Georgia, and we have testers based in Florida.

[WWALS Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Testing Training 2024-02-10]
WWALS Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Testing Training 2024-02-10

We currently have testers on the Little, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers.

We need more of those, and also for the Alapahoochee River, as well as Cat Creek, Beatty Branch, Sugar Creek, Okapilco Creek, and others.

For more, see:

Sign up: Continue reading

Huge win against LNG: feds require climate analysis; what about Florida? 2024-01-24

The president’s decision on Calcasieu Pass LNG (CP2) in Louisiana is a huge win, comparable to the Keystone XL pipeline decision a decade ago. But what does it mean for Florida?

According to the New York Times:

Whatever new criteria is used to evaluate CP2 would be expected to be applied to the other 16 proposed natural gas terminals that are awaiting approval.

“This move would amount to a functional ban on new LNG export permits,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said on the Senate floor Wednesday.

The catch is that there are already LNG export operations in Florida and Georgia.

Plus Florida is a few hundred miles closer than Louisiana to Puerto Rico, which is one of the usual first destinations of LNG, and closer to most of the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America.

And some of the financiers of Louisiana LNG projects are involved in existing or potential projects in Florida.

[Calcasieu Pass LNG in google maps]
Calcasieu Pass LNG in google maps

Here are excerpts from the NYTimes story. Coral Davenport, New York Times, January 24, 2024, White House Said to Delay Decision on Enormous Natural Gas Export Terminal: Before deciding whether to approve it, the Energy Department will analyze the climate impacts of CP2, one of 17 proposed LNG export terminals., Continue reading

Paddles, Chainsaws, and Okefenokee Swamp on The Spotlight Show, Talk92.1 FM 2024-02-01

Join us on The Spotlight Show on at 6 PM, Thursday, February 1, 2024.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and “Diamond” Jim Halter will talk about chainsaw cleanups, the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, the Okefenokee Swamp, the Ichetucknee Springs and River, and the 2024 WWALS River Revue coming up this September.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper on The Spotlight Show, 6-7 PM, Thursday, February 1, 2024]
Suwannee Riverkeeper on The Spotlight Show, 6-7 PM, Thursday, February 1, 2024

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!

Finish: Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River, 2024-02-03

Update 2024-02-18: Pictures: Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River, Langdale Park to Sugar Creek –Phil Royce 2024-02-03.

We got quite a few deadfalls last Saturday, now to finish the rest.

Come help us remove some deadfalls that are impeding canoe and kayak paddling.

You do not have to use any kind of saw to join us. You can take pictures, or help move sawed limbs aside, or collect trash.

Bring a chainsaw if you really know how to use it. Or a handsaw, or sawzall.

Phil Hubbard led the last one. Thanks to Shawn O’Connor for leading this one.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 9:30 AM, end 1 PM, Saturday, February 3, 2024

Put In: Langdale Park Boat Ramp, 3781 N. Valdosta Rd., Valdosta, GA 31602, off I-75 Exit 22.

GPS: 30.88747, -83.32395

[We got some easy and hard deadfalls last time; finish this time. Photo: John S. Quarterman 2024-01-27]
We got some easy and hard deadfalls last time; finish this time. Photo: John S. Quarterman 2024-01-27

Continue reading

Fifth Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2024-03-02

Update 2024-02-02: Now no fee required, thanks to a pledge from Georgia Power.


Fifth Annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River

Valdosta, Georgia, January 29, 2024 — Join us on March 2nd for a leisurely paddle with the Mayor of Valdosta and the Chairman of Lowndes County on the Withlacoochee River, along the west side of the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin, and along the site of future Troupville River Camp and Nature Park.

“The annual paddle event provides a unique opportunity for residents to come together and explore the natural beauties of Lowndes County, immersing themselves in the serenity of our waterways,” said Bill Slaughter, Chairman of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners. “We encourage residents of all ages to come out and join us for a fun morning.”

“Together, we will showcase the natural beauty of our blackwater rivers and continue to work towards finding the most cost-effective solutions to educate our citizens and eliminate the trash that is littering our creeks and rivers,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson. “With this event, we aim to empower our community and inspire everyone to take action towards protecting our precious waterways. It will take all of us working together to make a difference, and we are excited to lead the way towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.”

“Welcome to this one of our many paddles. All elected officials present, from both Florida and Georgia, get in free, and will have three minutes each to speak at the put-in. You can paddle up to them and ask questions,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We have at least one daytime river paddle a month, in Florida or Georgia, plus an evening Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake, near Lakeland, GA.”

[FB: Paddlers 2023-03-04]
Paddlers 2023-03-04; Photo: John S. Quarterman

On a new route this year, we’ll go seven miles in four hours, with an early takeout.

Come as early as 8 AM, Saturday, March 2, 2024 to Langdale Park, drop off your boats, and drive to Troupville Boat Ramp. Shuttle from there back to Langdale Park.

One 15-seat van provided by the Boys & Girls Club will shuttle you back to Troupville. “We love supporting this event and giving back to our community! This is just another event that shows how good the Mayor and the Commission Chairman are always working together to help this community,” said Bill Holt, VP of Operations, Boys & Girls Club of Valdosta. This will be an outside event, but we will recommend those riders taking advantage of the shuttle service to please wear a mask.

We’ll paddle three miles from Langdale Park Boat Ramp through past Three Mile Branch to Sugar Creek with early takeout. On this all-wooded route it is hard to believe you are next to the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin. There are no houses, but you may see creeks, oaks, cypresses, pines, fish, birds, and turtles. Valdosta is getting much better at keeping sewage out of the creeks and rivers.

“I’m happy to lead this paddle again,” said Phil Hubbard.

Stop at Sugar Creek to see the WaterGoat trash trap purchased by the City of Valdosta and cleaned out by volunteer Russell Allen McBride and family. That floating chain and net keeps much trash out of the river. There is more for the City of Valdosta to do about trash, but that WaterGoat was the start of current progress on that problem. If you want to stop there, you can take out below Berta’s Pizza Kitchen on Gornto Road.

“The South Georgia Film Festival is proud to support this year’s Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle,” said Jason Brown. South Georgia Film Festival Director. “As many of the available kayakers will be in attendance both at the paddle and that evening for the film screening on the campus of Valdosta State University.”

Then we’ll paddle another four miles under the Norfolk Southern Railroad Bridge, past Wood Valley Subdivision and Sheri Run, and the I-75 and GA 133 highway bridges.

Continue reading

Cancelled: Hike Camp Branch to Suwannee Springs 2024-02-03

Update 2024-01-29: Outing cancelled. “We would have been wading. There are two deep gullies east of Rt 129 that will be flooded for awhile.”

Join veteran Florida Trail hiker Randy Madison for a winter hike along creeks and over a historic bridge to Suwannee Springs on the Suwannee River near Live Oak, Florida.

This hike will take us down beautiful Camp Branch, also know as Disappearing Creek. Disappearing Creek tumbles down a narrow canyon and disappears into a 15 foot high limestone rock wall before resurfacing and then going under ground again to resurface finally just before emptying into the Suwannee River.

After the descent of Camp Branch and a break at Disappearing Creek, we’ll head down the Suwannee on the Florida Trail to cross Crooked Branch, accend the Greasy Gully to summit Devils Mt, elevation 137ft, then follow the River passing through a scenic area with the hike ambling along the edge of some open cliffs, then a couple nice sandbars before coming in to the Graffiti Bridge, old 129.

We’ll take the blue trail from the Graffiti Bridge back to the Suwannee Springs ruins and our cars. Bring lunch, plenty of water, bug spray and appropriate clothing for the outing.

The hike down Camp Branch is through open forest and can be strenuous, so if you’re not up to uneven terrain and a little bush whacking this may not be a hike for you.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 9:15 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, February 3, 2024

Put In: Camp Branch Trailhead. I-75 exit 451, south on US 129, left onto CR 132 SE, right (south) onto SE CR 25A, right onto SE 89th Way, approximately 1 mile to the parking area, 12982 SE 89th Way.

GPS: 30.3779, -82.8788

[Map and about]
Camp Branch and Suwannee Springs in the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Water Trail.

Continue reading

Four more Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17

Update 2024-02-22: Some Knights Creek plans in Valdosta Boone Drive and Knob Hill small sewage spills 2024-02-20.

Update 2024-01-31: Spill from Chemours Trail Ridge South TiO2 mine SE of Starke, FL 2024-01-30.

Four small Valdosta sewage spills appeared in the January 26, 2024 GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, all listed as happening December 17, 2023, and as “Did not enter State waters”.

[Four small Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17]
Four small Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17

However, Valdosta Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes confirms that these spills did happen. Which you can see for yourself in the pictures I took on January 23 of the Mile Street spill locations.

The most unusual part of these spill reports is that bit for “WATERWAY IMPACTED”: “Did not enter State waters”. That means these spills were stopped and contained before they could reach Knights Creek or Cherry Creek. Which is impressive considering that Sunday, December 17, 2024, saw more than an inch of rain at every gauge we follow, after more than half an inch the previous day. (See below for one reservation about one of these spills.)

Nobody is going to be happy until the number of Valdosta sewage spills is zero. And WWALS continues watching closely.

However, watching also includes complimenting Valdosta Utilities when things go right. So, congratulations, Valdosta Utilities, for catching these spills before they did any damage.

Curiously, these spills did not appear in the next day’s Sewage Spills Report, or in any later days. Considering recent typos in those GA-EPD Sewage Spills Reports, I’m assuming those later omissions are due to EPD’s problems with lack of staffing and funding.

Let’s look at each of these spills. Continue reading

Five clean rivers and a clean creek 2024-01-25

Update 2024-01-28: Four more Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17.

We got good results for Wednesday and Thursday for five rivers: Alapaha, Withlacoochee, Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee, plus Mud Swamp Creek, a tributary of the Alapaha. Valdosta’s Wednesday upstream Withlacoochee River results concur.

There is a 50% chance of rain on Sunday, but you can get on the water before then.

So happy fishing, paddling, and swimming this weekend.

Or join us tomorrow (Saturday) for Try again: Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River, 2024-01-27.

[Chart, Clean Rivers and Creek, Map 2024-01-25]
Chart, Clean Rivers and Creek, Map 2024-01-25

Sewage Spills

One sewage spill was reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia last Thusrday: Ashburn spilled 100,000 gallons of raw sewage into Ashburn Creek, which ends up in the Little River far above Reed Bingham State Park.

In Florida, Lake Butler reported a spill at its airport, which apparently wasn’t enough to get into any waterway, much less the New River of the Santa Fe. Continue reading