Category Archives: FDEP

Sewage spills: Ashburn, GA, Live Oak, FL 2023-12-01

Live Oak, Florida, was much faster in reporting its Friday sewage spill than was Ashburn, Georgia, in reporting its Sunday-before-last spill.

Probably neither of these spills had any noticeable effect on the nearby Little or Suwannee Rivers, and certainly not on the far-downstream Withlacoochee River.

For more about WWALS water quality testing, see

[Ashburn, GA, and Live Oak, FL, sewage spills]
Ashburn, GA, and Live Oak, FL, sewage spills

Ashburn, Georgia, spilled 2,000 gallons on November 19, reported on November 28, into Ashburn Branch, which ends up in the Little River far upstream from Tifton. Continue reading

Pictures: Suwannee River Wilderness Trail at Lafayette County Florida State Parks Open House Public Meeting 2023-10-26

Learned a few things in this last of the FDEP series of county meetings about state parks, (almost) the only one that also included the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and its River Camps.

[Posters and personnel]
Posters and personnel

We also talked about the previous day’s meeting, in Hamilton County, which included Big Shoals State Park. Moving the portage around Big Shoals from Columbia County to Hamilton County, on the right bank of the Suwannee River, is now merely a discussion topic, not a plan. They do want to do something to improve the exit from the portage back into the river. The jagged and slippery limestone rocks are a safety issue. One possibility is steps like at the Big Shoals Tract Launch. They didn’t like my suggestion of just put in some posts with a chain for people to use to get down to the river. But steps would be great. Continue reading

Big Shoals State Park, move portage to Hamilton County, meeting 2023-10-25

Today, in White Springs, Florida State Parks is holding a public meeting about Big Shoals State Park and Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center.

I have a prior engagement, but you may want to go.

When: 3-7 PM, Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Where: White Springs Tourism Building, 10499 Spring Street, White Springs, Florida 32096


[Maps and Flyer, Hamilton County Parks Meeting, Big Shoals State Park 2023-10-25]
Maps and Flyer, Hamilton County Parks Meeting, Big Shoals State Park 2023-10-25

The agenda is basically show up, look at the materials, ask questions. Continue reading

Lafayette County Florida State Parks Open House Public Meeting 2023-10-26

FDEP has been running a series of county meetings about state parks, but this is the only one that also includes the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail and its River Camps. Let’s go see what they are proposing.

You can also send written comments through November 10, 2023, to

[Map and flyer]
Map and flyer

For Lafayette Blue Springs, according to its Executive Summary, the idea is to turn the service road into Allen Mill Pond Trail, to upgrade electricity and buildings in the support area, to manage erosion and replace the boardwalk in the headspring access area, and to renovate the campground elecricity and remove the outhouse and the old Metzger house, plus some proposed additions to its boundary.

For the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, according to its Executive Summary, the intention is to compose a management guidance document for all river camps, replace all wooden staircases, and upgrade the portable restroom and shower buildings, plus consider a designated Fanning Springs River Camp.

For Troy Spring State Park, according to its Executive Summary, multiple upgrades are planned for the Springhead Day Use Area, to the riverfront, and at the south end to convert the stables into a park support structure. There are also some possible acquisitions.

Here is the agenda: Continue reading

Hurricane Idalia: State Parks Closed, Georgia and Florida 2023-09-02

Stir crazy from staying in due to Hurricane Idalia and want to go to a state park?

Many of them are open, but some remain closed, in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia and Florida.

Or come to the WWALS Banks Lake Morning Paddle 2023-09-04.

[Georgia and Florida State Parks Closed 2023-09-02]
Georgia and Florida State Parks Closed 2023-09-02

According to Georgia State Parks Weather Alerts – Hurricane Idalia:

Continue reading

All 2023 sewage spills into the Suwannee River Basin

Update 2023-08-29: 8,400 gallons of sewage into Dukes Bay Canal, Valdosta, GA, due to unknown obstruction 2023-08-28.

Inquiring minds (Suzy’s) wanted to know how many times Valdosta spilled sewage this year.

Answer: nine reported, five into Knights Creek, which goes to the Alapahoochee and Alapaha Rivers, two into Hightower Creek, which goes into Sugar Creek and the Withlacoochee River, one into One Mile Branch, also Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River, and one into Cherry Creek, directly into the Withlacoochee River.

Valdosta spilled 1,182,221 gallons of raw sewage, accounting for 61.93% of the total 1,908,971 gallons spilled in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia and Florida so far in 2023.

I would like to thank Valdosta Utilities Assistant Director Jason Barnes for calling the day after that most recent spill, to note that Utilties found the spill, he had personally been out there and got it stopped that same evening, and they tracked the amount with SCADA. Plus it was reported to the public and to GA-EPD the day after it happened. All that is improvement.

Of course, the only good number of spills is none, as I told WTXL after a previous spill.

[Sewage spills and WWALS water trails]
Sewage spills and WWALS water trails

Runner-up was tiny Ashburn, with 673,400 gallons, or 35.28% of the total, mostly spilled into Hat Creek, which goes into the Alapaha River, with some into Ashburn Branch, which goes into the Little River. Ashburn has had a chronic sewage spill problem for many years, and needs to get a grip. Ashburn did get some ARPA money to work on that, so maybe there will be improvement.

Also-rans included Continue reading

Where to get flyers for WWALS River Revue 2023-08-25

You may have heard WWALS is having its first-ever sit-down fundraising dinner, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia, including speakers, a silent auction, a kayak raffle, and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

WWALS members who want to distribute flyers can get printable PDFs online here:

Or you can get paper copies at two locations this Friday and Monday.

[Water quality test kit, Suwannee River State Park, Madison Blue Spring]
Water quality test kit, Suwannee River State Park, Madison Blue Spring

  • Friday, August 25, 2023, WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman will be doing water quality testing training at Suwannee River State Park, 3631 201st Path, Live Oak, FL 32060. She’ll be at Pavilion 3 from 9 AM to 3 PM.
  • Monday, August 28, 2023, you can join Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman to help stop FDEP from drawing down our springs, at the Alachua County Headquarters Library, Meeting Room A, 401 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601. The meeting starts at 11 AM, and will probably run at least an hour. I’ll leave some flyers at the library, as well.

Bonus: Monday, August 28, 2023, come to the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission meeting, at 5:30 PM, in the Lowndes County South Health District Administrative Office, 325 West Savannah Avenue, Valdosta, Georgia.

Or call or write and we may be able to deliver.

Oh, and don’t forget to get your tickets and come on down to the WWALS River Revue:

Maybe you or your organization want to be a sponsor. Follow the link for the sponsor package.

 -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!

Tell FDEP: stop withdrawing our springs 2023-08-28

According to a 2016 Florida state law, FDEP is supposed to “adopt uniform rules for issuing permits that prevent groundwater withdrawals harmful to the water resources and a uniform definition of the term “harmful to the water resources” to provide water management districts with minimum standards necessary to be consistent with the overall water policy of the state for Outstanding Florida Springs.“

The department’s writeup even says, “The rule is likely to affect consumptive use permitting in the Northwest Florida, Suwannee River, St. Johns River and Southwest Florida water management districts.”

Well, it won’t limit permitting in its current form.

[Agenda for 2023-08-28 and Madison Blue Spring 2022-06-04]
Agenda for 2023-08-28 and Madison Blue Spring 2022-06-04

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is holding a workshop on development of this rule.

You can ask them to actually follow the law and protect our springs.

That’s 11 AM, Monday, August 28, 2023, at the
Alachua County Headquarters Library, Meeting Room A,
401 E University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32601.

Sierra Club Florida has an RSVP form

Here is the agenda: Continue reading

Draft Conditions from the Planning Commission to the BoCC on SE 23-01 3RT Sand Mine, Levy County, FL 2023-07-20

Update 2023-08-14: Levy county sand mine petition 2023-08-11.

The Levy County Commission is meeting tomorrow morning, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, at 9 AM. It’s always good to show up and be seen, maybe say a few words, even if your item of interest is not on the agenda. Or contact your Commissioner via telephone or email.

There will be no decision about the 3RT Sand Mine tomorrow. The agenda includes:

16. PUBLIC HEARING: Requesting the Levy County Board of County Commissioners grant the request for continuation by applicant for PETITION NO SE 23-01: Ryan Thomas for 3RT Sand Mine. Requesting a Special Exception for a major mining operation pursuant to Sec. 50-719; Mining and excavation of minerals, or natural resources, and site reclamation of the Levy County Land Development Code to allow a sand mine (no blasting) on approximately 1,100 acres (includes mine property and access to CR 337) of land located in Section 35, Township 12 S, Range 17 E, Levy County Florida. These parcels are located in Agriculture/Rural Residential (A/RR) Land Use and Zoning district. Parcel Number(s) 0359701600, 0359700400, 0359700000, 0359700300, 0360400600, 0360400000, 036040040B, 036040040A, 0360400400, 0360400500, 0360600500, 0360600300, 0360600000, 0359400000, and 0359200000.The applicant has requested a continuation to a date uncertain to evaluate the Planning Commission conditions with his project. This item will be continued.

[All 22 draft conditions]
All 22 draft conditions

These appear to be the 22 draft conditions from the Levy County Planning Commission about the proposed Special Exception for the 3RT Sand Mine. See also PDF.

Draft Conditions from the Planning Commission to the BoCC on SE 23-01 3RT Sand Mine

Continue reading

Levy County 3RT Sand Mine is in Springshed of Rainbow Springs 2023-07-23

Update 2023-07-24: Draft Conditions from the Planning Commission to the BoCC on SE 23-01 3RT Sand Mine, Levy County, FL 2023-07-20.

Levy County is in the territory of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), so I wondered why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) was involved in permitting a sand mine in Levy County.

The only reason I can see is that the mine site is in the springshed of Rainbow Springs, and Rainbow Springs is in Marion County in SWFWMD’s territory.

Which makes it very curious that Rainbow Springs is never mentioned by SWFWMD nor by the Levy County Planning Commission, nor by anybody else represented in the board packet for the July 10th Levy County Planning Commission meeting.

Instead, Levy County staff wrote, “e) Site is not located within one mile corridor (one-half mile on either side) of known geological features with the potential to Impact Manatee Springs or Fanning Springs. Additional study is not recommended to be required.”

Well, maybe not, because the mine site is not in the springshed of Manatee Springs or Fanning Springs.

But according to a Florida state-mandated action plan by a Florida state agency, the mine site is in the springshed of Rainbow Springs.

Sure seems like further study should be required about that.

[Rainbow Springshed and 3RT Sand Mine]
Rainbow Springshed and 3RT Sand Mine

Maps of Florida Aquifer recharge areas going back to at least 1995 appear to show the mine site in a recharge zone. Continue reading