Author Archives: jsq

Pictures: Banks Lake Full Strawberry Moon paddle 2021-06-24

Good turnout for a Thursday paddle! 26 paddlers enjoyed great weather, bats, and the Full Strawberry Moon through clouds at Banks Lake NWR.

It’s only $10 per paddler with free boat rental thanks to the Lakeland-Lanier Chamber of Commerce and Banks Lake Outdoors. Or the whole thing is free with WWALS membership, which starts at $25 individual or $40 family.

[26 paddlers, cypress, bat tree, moon]
26 paddlers, cypress, bat tree, moon

This time we were joined by Bird Chamberlain and almost all of Dirty Bird and the Flu, one of our headliners at the Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 7-11 PM, Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Turner Center Art Park, Valdosta, GA. Continue reading

Good upstream and downstream, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-07-29

All the E. coli test results we have for the Little, Alapaha, and Withlacoochee Rivers are good, all the way down below Allen Ramp almost to the Suwannee River. We don’t test for Fecal coliform, so we don’t know what happened with that sky-high Fecal coliform result Madison Health got for Tuesday. However, from the WWALS test results we have for Wednesday and Thursday, all these rivers seem clean, with two sites tested on each of the Little and Alapaha Rivers, and six on the Withlacoochee.

[Chart, Franks Creek, Alapaha River, Little River, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide]
Chart, Franks Creek, Alapaha River, Little River, Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide

We have no new results from Valdosta or Madison Health since yesterday’s post. Apparently Valdosta does have some new results, but they’re having some sort of website problem. Madison Health seems to only test Tuesdays, and only at the state line anymore. That’s too bad, because they both test Fecal coliform, and we do not.

This is yet another example of how the state of Florida needs to step up, fund, and implement regular testing of all the rivers from the state line to the Gulf. Then we might know how far which contamination blob got. We’d also have a better chance tracking it back to its source. Floridians, please ask your statehouse delegation to make it so. Continue reading

Again rescheduled: Hike to Dead River Sink, Alapaha River, Jennings Bluff Launch, 2021-10-TBD

The Alapaha River is still too high to see the geological marvels that Practicing Geologist Dennis J. Price wants to show us. So we’re rescheduling again, this time to October. The first available date is Saturday, October 2, 2021, but please check back, because there’s no way of knowing what the water levels or the hurricane situation will be in October.

Join us for an approximately three-mile hike down the Dead River to the Dead River Sink, where the Alapaha River goes underground much of the year. We will be led by Practicing Geologist Dennis J. Price of Hamilton County, Florida. He will explain the geology, and how unusual this place is: there’s nothing like it in Florida (or Georgia).

This is a hike: no boat is needed.

[Karst limestone cracks by the Alapaha River, Dead River, Sink, Dennis J. Price]
Karst limestone cracks by the Alapaha River, Dead River, Sink, Dennis J. Price

When: Gather 9:00 AM, launch 9:15 AM, end 12:15 PM, Saturday, October 2 [TBD], 2021

Put In: Jennings Bluff Launch. From Jennings, Hamilton County, FL, travel south on US 41 to NW 25 Lane; turn left; travel east to NW 82 Court and the entrance into the Suwannee River Water Management District’s Jennings Bluff tract; turn left and follow road to canoe launch.

GPS: 30.567183, -83.038911
You’re aiming for the Jennings Bluff Tract entrance.

[Jennings Bluff Tract sign, 11:42:18, 30.5670965, -83.0388653]
Jennings Bluff Tract sign, 11:42:18, 30.5670965, -83.0388653

Take Out: Jennings Bluff Launch

Bring: drinking water, snacks, 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/#join

Event: facebook, meetup Continue reading

Health Alert, Withlacoochee River, high Fecal coliform 2021-07-28

Update 2021-07-30: Good upstream and downstream, Withlacoochee, Little, Alapaha Rivers 2021-07-29.

Madison County, Florida, Health Department issued a health alert to “residents and visitors near the Withlacoochee River in North Florida.”

[Alert, Data, River]
Alert, Data, River

It’s not obvious why from the datapoint for yesterday at the state line on the FDEP website. FDEP only publishes E. coli results, so what they published for yesterday from Madison Health was 132 cfu/100 mL E. coli. That’s above the average limit of 126, but well below the one-time limit of 410. So I asked about that. Continue reading

Vote for Songs! Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, July 25, 2021 — “Help us pick finalists from nine songs!” said Laura D’Alisera, who won First Prize the first year, and ever since has been on the organizing Committee.

You can vote here, until 5PM, Thursday, July 29, 2021:
https://forms.gle/JKJFdLghQa8P3n4NA

[Vote for Songs!]

“It’s plain old ranked-choice voting,” said Committee Member and Contest Judge Josh Duncan. “Rank the songs in order starting with 1 (you liked it most).”

“This online voting is new this year,” said Songwriting Contest Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson Jr. “Audio of each song is on YouTube, with no video, just a picture.”

There’s a facebook event to encourage people to vote: https://www.facebook.com/events/2850064571913032

”The Committee will take the online results into account when selecting finalists,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Here’s what the Rules say about that:” Continue reading

Bad Upstream, Good Downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-22

Update 2021-07-28: Health Alert, Withlacoochee River, high Fecal coliform 2021-07-28.

Unusual results: too high E. coli at US 41 and GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, good downstream and on the Little and Alapaha Rivers. Unexpected because with the heavy rain in Brooks County, Georgia, problems downstream might have been expected. I would paddle on the Withlacoochee River this weekend.

[Chart, Up and Down Withlacoochee River, Map]
Chart, Up and Down Withlacoochee River, Map

We have no results from Valdosta newer than Monday upstream, and the previous week downstream. Also nothing from Madison Health since Tuesday a week ago.

But WWALS testers Valerie Folsom, Bobby McKenzie, and Gus Cleary filled the gap. Continue reading

Why Withlacoochee River floodplain deannexation from Valdosta? @ GLPC 2021-07-26 2021-07-26

Valdosta should not deannex 310 acres of Withlacoochee River floodplain around Cherry Creek. No good reason for deannexation has been given by the applicant, and there are substantial reasons to be concerned about potential uses of that land if deannexed. Instead, Valdosta and Lowndes County should purchase the entire 530.24 acre property down to the Withlacoochee River to add to a trails system up and down the Withlacoochee River. The advisory Greater Lowndes Planning Commission (GLPC) at its meeting this Monday should recommend against annexation, and then the Valdosta Mayor and Council should deny.

I am sending a letter to that effect today to Valdosta City Planner Matt Martin, and I recommend you do, as well: mlmartin@valdostacity.com

[Public land and Uvalde Land Trust Deannexation request, Withlacoochee River]
Public land and Uvalde Land Trust Deannexation request, Withlacoochee River

That deannexation is on the GLPC agenda for this Monday, July 26, 2021. The only land access to the property is through the City of Valdosta, and since that whole area of the river has extensive flood plain and little road access, Lowndes County cannot provide public utilities, fire/police protection, or emergency medical response across the river to the subject property, as the City Planner points out in the agenda sheet. The landowner’s stated purpose would be better served by the property remaining inside the city limits: “to use for wildlife management, and rec. use as it is in a mitgation bank & has no development use.” The City Planner even recommends annexing the rest of the subject property into the city, down to the river. Continue reading

Valdosta Elsa spills finally in GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report 2021-07-20

Update 2021-07-23: Bad Upstream, Good Downstream, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-22.

Not just two, but seven Valdosta July 7th sewage spills finally showed up in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report yesterday.

That’s ten working days later, or almost two calendar weeks after they happened during Tropical Storm Elsa. Even Quitman is usually only one week late filing such reports.

However, unlike the vague “800 block” verbiage in Valdosta’s press release of July 8th, these reports have precise street addresses.

And these reports say which waterbody was affected. The “800 Block of E Brookwood Dr.”, from which I could not tell whether it went west into Onemile Branch, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River, turns out to be “836 E. Brookwood Dr”, and it went into “Knights Creek”, which runs into Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River.

So I’ll go back and revise our WWALS map. Maybe from now on Valdosta will report spills with this kind of precision and save everybody trouble.

[Seven Valdosta Spills, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report parsed by WWALS]
Seven Valdosta Spills, GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report parsed by WWALS, see the WWALS website.

Also maybe Valdosta will finally do something to Continue reading

Ghost company: Strom LNG

A ghost company with no assets, not even an office or the land it claims for its Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) liquefaction facility, no investment, and no business partners. What reporters from Tampa Bay Times found was even worse than what what we found by attending a Port Tampa Bay board meeting: Port Tampa Bay has no agreement with Strom, and wants none. The reporters’ findings take us back to 2014.

Strom Inc. previously listed an Ybor City building as its physical location, which it no longer occupies. Pictured is the building. [ MALENA CAROLLO | Tampa Bay Times ]
Strom Inc. previously listed an Ybor City building as its physical location, which it no longer occupies. Pictured is the building. [ MALENA CAROLLO | Tampa Bay Times ]

Malena Carollo and Jay Cridlin, Tampa Bay Times, 20 July 2021, A company asked to ship gas through Tampa’s port. Then it ‘disappeared.’
A plan to transport liquefied natural gas from Citrus County to Tampa has activists concerned — even though details are scant.

The Tampa Port Authority’s June board meeting started like always, with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Then came the call for public comments.

Most port board meetings feature one or two speakers, if any. This one had nine, queued up both on Zoom and in person. All had the same concern: An April report to the U.S. Department of Energy filed by a fuel company called Strom Inc.

Seven years ago, Strom obtained a license from the federal government and has quietly pursued a plan to move a fuel called “liquified natural gas,” or LNG, from a 174-acre facility in Crystal River to one of Florida’s ports via truck or train. Its April report indicated that Port Tampa Bay has tentatively agreed to be its choice.

The fuel is a form of natural gas that is cooled to become a liquid. It is most often used in countries that don’t have infrastructure to extract and transport the gas form of the energy source. Opponents say the fuel can be dangerous to transport, calling rail shipments “bomb trains,” and should bear public discussion before a decision is reached to move it through a city. That’s what prompted the cavalcade of speakers at the port.

Their questions came as a surprise to port leaders, because as one official told the speakers: Port Tampa Bay has no agreement with Strom. It is not negotiating with Strom. And it has no plans to export liquefied natural gas of any kind.

In fact, much of the information Strom has provided to the federal government about its efforts to produce and export liquefied natural gas, the Tampa Bay Times found, is outdated by years.

Not only does Strom have no agreement with Port Tampa Bay, it has no investors or outside backing, no natural gas supplier and does not own the Crystal River property on which it told the Department of Energy it plans to start building a production facility this year.

“It’s kind of like a ghost company,” said Don Taylor, president of the Economic Development Authority for Citrus County, who years ago worked with Strom as the company pursued economic incentives to build in Crystal River. “They just kind of disappeared, and we never heard from them again.”

There’s much more detail in the article, which is well worth reading.

The reporters even got a response out of the head of Strom, Inc.:

In an email to the Tampa Bay Times, Dean Wallace, Strom’s president and co-founder of its parent company, Glauben Besitz, LLC, called the discrepancies in its Department of Energy filings Continue reading

Florida Gov. DeSantis Urged to Declare State of Emergency Due to Red Tide 2021-07-19

“The Suwannee River Basin has been lucky in avoiding red tide so far, but we don’t want it anywhere,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper. “Beyond this emergency, let’s stop the excess fertilizers and phosphate mine waste that are causing this problem.”

Several other Florida Waterkeepers signed the letter, as did Waterkeepers Florida, representing all the Waterkeepers of Florida.

[Red tide warning, beach closure sign in St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity.]
Red tide warning, beach closure sign in St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity.

“Tampa Bay hasn’t been this sick since the 1970s when Clean Water Act regulations brought about the bay’s recovery,” said Justin Bloom, Suncoast Waterkeeper board member. “It is with a groundswell of public support that we call on our governor for leadership to protect and restore our bays and waterways.”

“Our right to clean water has been jeopardized and now is the time for action to protect Tampa Bay,” said Megan Eakins, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper board chair. “Our area needs the full support of our governor to take the actions necessary to mitigate this disaster and ensure this does not happen again.”

“Failure to remove dead and decaying marine life will exacerbate the intensity and duration of the red tide event,” said Andre Mele, executive director of Peace+Myakka Waterkeeper. “Dead marine life releases nutrients into the water column, which feeds the red tide organism and adds to the bloom, in a classic positive feedback loop.”

Plus the international Waterkeeper Alliance.

“Nearly 50 years ago, amid the era of burning rivers and rampant environmental degradation, the Clean Water Act was enacted, and yet almost five decades later, too many decision-makers continue to ignore the lessons history has taught us,” said Patience Burke, Waterkeeper Alliance organizer for the Gulf and South Atlantic regions. “We are bearing witness to an ecological catastrophe and will face judgment over the next 50 years about how we do, or do, not respond.”

Gov. DeSantis Urged to Declare State of Emergency Due to Red Tide

Hundreds of Tons of Dead Marine Animals Have Been Collected From Tampa Bay, Including Six Manatees

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— More than two dozen local businesses and conservation groups today asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency due to the ongoing red tide and fish kills in and around Tampa Bay. The St. Petersburg city council and mayor also have requested that the governor declare a state of emergency to help coordinate and fund desperately needed cleanup efforts and mitigate the worsening red tide.

The red tide appeared in Tampa Bay shortly after Florida regulators, in March, authorized the discharge of up to 480 million gallons of wastewater from the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack into Tampa Bay.

The Piney Point gypstack is a mountain of toxic waste topped by an impoundment of hundreds of millions of gallons of process wastewater, stormwater and tons of dredged spoil from Port Manatee. So-called “nutrient pollution” like ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous from that discharge can significantly worsen red tides.

The hundreds of tons of dead marine life discovered in recent weeks has included manatees and goliath groupers, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, as well as puffer fish, eel, horseshoe crabs, sheepshead, mullet, snook, red drum, tarpon, sharks, grouper, catfish and numerous other species of fish.

“Red tide’s carnage is horrific and infuriating,” said Continue reading