News 2023

News Stories about WWALS 2023.
For the rest see News.

  • 2023-02-27: Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, February 27, 2023, Elected officials continue paddle tradition,

    [Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19]
    Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19

    VALDOSTA — Mayor Scott James Matheson and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter are making a splash with the return of the annual Withlacoochee River paddle Saturday, March 4.

    Matheson and Slaughter will embark on an 11-mile river paddle, past the future site of Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, along the Suwannee River Basin, past Valdosta’s outfall of its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant and down to Spook Bridge.

    Matheson started the tradition in 2020 and has partnered with the WWALS Watershed Coalition ever since as a way for the community to appreciate its surroundings.

    “I am excited to partner once again with WWALS, plus this time with Lowndes County, to show people our fabulous blackwater rivers, only a few miles from City Hall and VSU. After the largest infrastructure project and single largest financial commitment in the history of our city was made toward a completely modern sewer system, we are now exploring the next phase toward beautifying our area’s waterways,” he said.

    “Council and city staff will be addressing the most cost-effective way to educate our citizens and eliminate the trash littering our streets that eventually makes (it) into our creeks and rivers. The fight will begin with further education of our friends and neighbors combined with additional focus from city staff and volunteers. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river.”

    Paddlers can gather at Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Highway, 8 a.m., leave at 10 a.m. and return at 4 p.m., March 4.

    A slot can be reserved for $30 online or at the event.

    For more information, visit
  • 2023-02-14: Fernando Figueroa, WUFT, February 14, 2023, Community members speak up about new “forever chemicals” study

    “This stuff is in everything,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman.

    [Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30]
    Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30

    These compounds can affect the human immune system at very low levels, which impacts antibody levels in response to vaccinations or how well people can fight off infections, she said. People’s livers, kidneys and reproductive organs are also at risk.

    PFAS chemicals that were phased out decades ago can still be found in fish and other wildlife, and current wastewater processing techniques are not designed to filter them out.

    “It just passes right through,” Quarterman said.

    As a result, these chemicals can build up in natural environments by leaching from landfills and into rivers or other waterways. Then, they stick to proteins in vegetation, such as seagrass, which is then consumed by fish, which are then eaten by larger fish, and so on, until they get caught and consumed by humans. It is important to note that fish lower in the food chain can still contain high concentrations of PFAS.

    For Quarterman, the inaction from the EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is a result of decades of defunding. He is also concerned with the state of Florida politics.

    “I mean, if there was political direction, why is there a red tide every summer?” he asked.

  • 2023-01-30: Valdosta Today, WWALS partners with Valdosta Mayor for river paddle,

    [Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19]
    Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19

    VALDOSTA – The community is invited to join the fourth annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle on the Withlacoochee River.

    See the WWALS press release.

  • 2023-01-26: Lowndes County nixes planned Dollar General –VDT 2023-01-26,

    Thank you, Lowndes County Commission, and all the opposition speakers and writers, for this win written up in the local newspaper of record.

    This win keeps some trash out of the Withlacoochee River, upstream from Valdosta and Florida, while stopping a foothold for further development too close to the river, avoiding clearcutting, impervious surface, and the flooding that would have caused.

    Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, January 26, 2023, County nixes planned Dollar General,

    VALDOSTA — Lowndes County residents felt heard as a contentious zoning request for a rural Dollar General was denied by the Lowndes County Commission.

    [Hearing, Location, Withlacoochee River]
    Hearing, Location, Withlacoochee River

  • 2023-01-25: Keep tugging on the not-to-mine end of the Okefenokee rope –Dink Nesmith 2023-01-25,

    Yes, why not this? “Why not have a rural development strike force that can laser in on the Charlton counties of Georgia? With enough bright minds, willpower and sufficient investment, oxygen can be pumped into the gasping communities that are—for the most part—on life support.”

    That would be way better than a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink.

    Dink Nesmith, Georgia Recorder, January 25, 2023, Okefenokee tug-o-war is long way from over,

    [Protest and Dragline]
    Protest and Dragline

    The opposing sides are not barefoot on Jekyll Island’s beach, but there’s a definite line drawn in the sand. Feet are dug in, and muscles are straining. On one side is an Alabama mining company and its fleet of high-powered lobbyists. Pulling the other way are millions of nature-loving Georgians who want to thwart Twin Pines Minerals from strip-mining near the Okefenokee Swamp.

    This tug-o-war has been off and on for years. First it was….

  • 2023-01-09: Maria Saporta, Saporta Report, January 9, 2023, Southern Co. leadership moves continue smooth transition with several ‘firsts’,

    [Tom Fanning with environtmentalists; Photo: Maria Saporta 2023-05-25]
    Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning (second from left) visits with environmentalists Brionte McCorkle, Mark Woodall and John Quarterman after the 2022 annual meeting. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

  • 2023-01-01: Terry Richards, Yahoo News and Valdosta Daily Times, January 1 2023, Valdosta on record opposing mining operation (WWALS blog),

    Jan. 1—VALDOSTA — More than a year ago the Valdosta City Council joined lawmakers across South Georgia opposing controversial mining plans near the Okefenokee Swamp.

    At the time, the president of the mining company said he was not concerned about local resolutions like the one passed by Valdosta.

    “The Valdosta City Council’s resolution has no impact on our plans whatsoever,” said Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, in a statement.

    Valdosta City Council voted Nov. 11, 2021 to oppose Twin Pines’ plans to start a mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp, about 75 miles from Valdosta. The vote was 6-0….

    [Dragline on TPM mine site 2022-09-27 and Valdosta City Council 2021-11-11]
    Dragline on TPM mine site 2022-09-27 and Valdosta City Council 2021-11-11