Category Archives: GA-EPD

Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, Clinch and Ware Counties, GA –The Conservation Fund 2021-06-22

Tipped off by a local member of the Board of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), I looked up this Suwannee River Headwaters Land and Water Protection project.

[Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, GA-EPD Determination, Suwannee River in Georgia]
Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, GA-EPD Determination, Suwannee River in Georgia

These acquisitions would protect most of both banks of the Suwannee River from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to Fargo, which is in turn more than a third of the Suwannee River proper in Georgia (below the East and Middle Forks to the GA-FL line). Continue reading

More questions about strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp –GA-EPD to miners 2021-09-10

GA-EPD last Friday sent another request for clarifications to the miners about their proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Meanwhile, you can ask GA-EPD to reject the five permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals for that strip mine, or at least to thoroughly study with independent review potential effects of that mine on the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, and the Floridan Aquifer.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter]
Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter

Most of the new questions are about how bentonite clay will be used. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has actually been asking about that since December 5, 2019.

A question GA-EPD did not ask is what if the clay gets into waterways with fish? Bentonite in small particles can get into the gills of fish and suffocate them, and bentonite can also deplete oxygen: see Identification of Oxygen-Depleting Components in MX-80 Bentonite, Torbjörn Carlsson and Arto Muurine, Cambridge University Press, 01 February 2011.

GA-EPD also asked about water draining into the Floridan Aquifer or into rivers, or water moving in the other direction.

Exhibit I Modeling the GW Flow System Comments James L. Kennedy Ph.D., P.G.

Continue reading

Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee Rivers in GA-EPD Triennial Review Update 2021-09-13

We appear to be the poster child for Recreational redesignation of waterbodies by GA-EPD.

[Prioritization of Nominated Waterbodies]
Prioritization of Nominated Waterbodies; blue marks prioritized waterbodies.

That’s a slide from today’s update meeting.

Not all our blue prioritized waterbodies were redesignated: not Banks Lake nor Grand Bay. But the Withlacoochee and Alapaha segments were redesignated. We may have gotten more river miles redesignated than anywhere else in Georgia.

[Stretches redesignated Recreational]
Stretches redesignated Recreational on the GA-EPD map.

As you can see, GA-EPD stuck to considering swimming as most important for what they call primary recreation, which is what they require for Recreational redesignation. Thanks to all of you who sent in swimming pictures and locations. You can keep sending those in, especially for the Suwannee River. Thanks to those cities and counties and Chambers of Commerce that sent in letters of support. Continue reading

Atkinson County supports Recreational redesignation, Alapaha River 2021-06-23

We thanked the Atkinson County Commission for this letter, and later got a copy of it. The letter probably helped with GA-EPD deciding to redesignate Recreational an upper segment of the Alapaha River Water Trail, one containing Willacoochee Landing in Atkinson County. More redesignations are possible later. There’s a GA-EPD Update Meeting next week.

[Letter, Commission, Willacoochee Landing]
Letter, Commission, Willacoochee Landing

Letter from Atkinson BOCC to GA-EPD (PDF)

Continue reading

More Recreational redesignation of waterbodies still possible –GA-EPD 2021-09-01

In addition to the Alapaha and Withlacoochee River segments GA-EPD has accepted to be redesignated Recreational, according to today’s update letter several others still could be considered with certain additional information, and still more can be nominated. This would be for the next Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards, which starts next year, 2022.

Read the whole thing here: PDF.

Excerpts related to the Suwannee River Basin are below. I’ve added a few comments in [square brackets].

The following waterbody segments are being proposed for designated use change to recreation for the 2019 Triennial Review. EPD has received complete nomination packages for each of these waterbody segments, including thorough documentation of year-round primary contact recreation throughout the length of the segment, current and planned investment data, and letters of support from community and stakeholders. A map of these waterbody segments can be found at
https://arcg.is/1i0ezv

[Stretches redesignated Recreational]
Stretches redesignated Recreational on the GA-EPD map.

  • Alapaha River – Cherry Creek to Stateline
  • Alapaha River – Willacoochee River to Dampier Branch
    [Those two Alapaha River stretches omit Sheboggy Boat Ramp downstream from Alapaha, and Lakeland Boat Ramp, Pafford’s Landing, and Rowetown Church Landing downstream from Lakeland.]
  • Withlacoochee River – Tiger Creek to State Line

[Plus Reed Bingham State Park Lake on the Little River was already Recreational, even though it does not appear on the above GA-EPD map. The rest of the Little River we can resubmit.]

Incomplete nomination packages were received for the following waterbodies. EPD will continue to solicit information from the nominators to complete these packages. If EPD receives complete nomination packages, EPD will review the complete packages and consider changing the designated use of these waterbodies to recreation as part of the 2022 Triennial Review:

Missing Documentation of year-round primary contact recreation:

Continue reading

Parts of Alapaha, Withlacoochee Rivers to be Recreational –GA-EPD 2021-08-11

Update 2021-09-01: More Recreational redesignation of waterbodies still possible –GA-EPD 2021-09-01.

GA-EPD picked a subset of the river stretches they previously said they would consider for Recreational designation: in the Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards: parts of the Alapaha River, and a smaller part of the Withlacoochee River.

There’s an online Update Meeting next month.

[Header, Suwannee River Basin]
Header, Suwannee River Basin

So that’s the Alapaha River from the Willacoochee River to Dampier Branch, and from Cherry Creek to the state line. I guess you can still paddle from Willacoochee Landing @ GA 135 to Berrien Beach Boat Ramp @ GA 168 without getting into any non-Recreational stretches. But Lakeland Boat Ramp and Pafford’s and Burnt Church Landings are right out. But you can paddle from Hotchkiss Road Landing to Naylor Boat Ramp, Mayday Landing, Statenville Boat Ramp, and on to Florida.

Redesignated Recreational is the Withlacoochee River from Tiger Creek (at Spook Bridge, just below US 84) to the state line. So Knights Creek, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps can all be Recreational, even though they’re all downstream of Okapilco Creek and all those cattle in Brooks County, but Langdale Park Boat Ramp and Troupville Boat Ramp are not designated Recreational, despite the Valdosta Mayor’s letter of support.

However, the big win is that anything at all got redesignated. In previous cycles, GA-EPD declined to consider such a thing. And we can reapply next time.

Completely missing from this list are: Continue reading

Alapaha, Withlacoochee Rivers, Lowndes County Commission 2021-08-10

For voting Tuesday evening, three water-related items have more implications than might appear from the agenda of the Lowndes County Commission.

[Lake Alapaha water treatment, Bay Branch tributaries in Building Valdosta Subdivision, Army Corps on Val Del Villas]
Lake Alapaha water treatment, Bay Branch tributaries in Building Valdosta Subdivision, Army Corps on Val Del Villas

7.a. REZ-2021-09 Building Valdosta Subdivision (0070 018), R-A to R-21, Community Well & Septic, ~64.84 acres.

This subdivision has two creeks crossing it, leading to Bay Branch and the Withlacoochee River, plus at least one retention pond.

7.c. REZ-2021-13 Val Del Villas, Val Del Rd. P-D Amendment, County Water and Sewer, ~28.436 acres

For this existing subdivision, Northside Property Development wants to add more houses. It got the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to determine that the remaining part of Val Del Villas off Val Del Road is not jurisdictional wetlands. That’s uphill from Sermons Branch and the Withlacoochee River. Northside Property Development has the same registered agent as Uvalde Land Company that bought the Cherry Creek Mitigation Bank next to the other side of the Withlacoochee River, and wants to deannex the upland half of it from Valdosta. The uplands in that Bank tract are not jurisdictional wetlands, either.

8.b. Alapaha Plantation Water Treatment Pilot Study

This is the kind of extra expense Valdosta avoided by sinking its water wells at Guest Road twice as deep after Withlacoochee River water was discovered reaching them from Shadrick Sink, on the other side of the Withlacoochee River, and the other side of what is now the Cherry Creek Mitigation Bank, recently sold to Uvalde Land Company, which wants to deannex half of it from Valdosta.

For much more background, including the so-far $225,415 running total for Lowndes County subsidizing water for the private Lake Alapaha subdivision next to the Alapaha River, see The never-ending Lake Alapaha Water Treatment Plant saga @ LCC 2021-08-10.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Valdosta Mayor supports Recreational redesignation of rivers 2021-06-30

Maybe this letter will help GA-EPD to upgrade our waterways from Fishing to Recreational for tighter standards on contaminants.

[Water Trails, Mayor's Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp]
Water Trails, Mayor’s Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp
PDF

Letter, Valdosta Mayor to GA-EPD

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

Twin Pines Minerals supplied more documents to GA-EPD about mining near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-06-25

The miners finally responded to GA-EPD’s questions from April about more information for the five permit applications to strip mine titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Checking today with Georgia Environmental Protection Division Deputy Director John Eunice, it will probably take several weeks for EPD’s Mining group to review the documents. If EPD finds documents or information still missing, they may ask Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, for more. When at some point EPD finds enough information to call it a complete application, they will announce a Public Hearing with a public comment period.

You can go ahead and ask GA-EPD to reject the permit applications, or at least thoroughly evaluate them:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

The miners’ recent documents contain plenty of reasons to reject the permits, including they say themselves they didn’t answer all the questions, and they keep sending maps including land owned by TIAA as part of their mine site after TIAA rejected that many months ago.

[Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps]
Upon completion; Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee and St Marys Rivers; TIAA land still in mining site maps

I’d say the miners themselves said their responses were incomplete in items 5 and 6 on page 12 of their Response to Comments: Continue reading