Category Archives: GA-EPD

Ask the Georgia Legislature to act while GA-DNR keeps passing the buck about mining near the Okefenokee Swamp 2023-01-27

GA DNR keeps passing the buck about the proposal to strip mine for titanium within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, by miners from Alabama, Twin Pines Minerals, LLC. The Swamp is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers and it interchanges surface water with groundwater all the way down to the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink.

Please go ahead and send in your comment on the Mining Land Use Plan.

And ask your Georgia House Representative to sign on to HB 71, the Okefenokee Protection Act. That bill will not stop this permit application, but it would stop further expansion of that mine and any other mines on the east side of the Swamp.

[Trail Ridge Land LLC]
Trail Ridge Land LLC
Land the Charlton County Tax Assessors show owned by Trail Ridge Land LLC.
The northwest corner buts right up against the Swamp.

Floridians, you can comment. And you can ask your Georgia friends and relatives to ask their statehouse members to sign on to HB 71.

Back in September, Georgia DNR Board Chair Bill Jones said Continue reading

Videos: Morven Solar at Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Update 2023-02-06: Herbivores, sediment basins, silt fences for Morven Solar –WWALS to Brooks County Commission 2023-02-06.

These WWALS videos show the Public Hearing that was the only agenda item at the Brooks County Planning Commission, January 19, 2023.

[Movie: Rules for Speaking --Pat Sharpe, Chair (30M)]
Movie: Rules for Speaking –Pat Sharpe, Chair (30M)

The Planning Commission recommended approval with conditions.

The actual decision on the Special Exception will be made tonight at 5PM by the Brooks County Commission at Brooks County Courthouse, East Screven Street, Quitman, GA, 31643.

There is no agenda for tonight’s meeting on the county’s website, WWALS has still not received agenda nor board packet in response to our open records request of January 30, 2023.

Here’s a LAKE video playlist:


Videos: Morven Solar at Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19
Videos by John S. Quarterman for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS).

Below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker. Except for some camera glitches, these videos show the entire meeting.

See also the agenda, the board packet, the pictures of the sites of Morven Solar, and Report: Conditions wanted on Morven Solar by Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-20.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

Continue reading

Phosphate and titanium mining, water withdrawals, and trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26

The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council had several public speakers cram topics into their three minutes each.

[Phosphate and Titanium Mines, and Trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26]
Phosphate and Titanium Mines, and Trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26

Two directly-affected women and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a board member of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR), talked about the Cornerstone Crossings mega development on top of Clay Hole Creek and Cannon Creek confluence, a part of the Ichetucknee Trace, which is in the Southwest quadrant of I-75 and SR 47 Hwy interchange, due south of Lake City in Columbia County, Florida. Merillee wondered about the development’s water withdrawal permit, and how much PFAS it might unleash into the waterways and the underlying Floridan Aquifer. She displayed LiDAR maps she got from SRWMD that clearly show the Ichetucknee Trace. Continue reading

Limit water withdrawals, strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp, Valdosta trash –WWALS to NCFRPC 2023-01-26

The meeting is 7PM tonight in Lake City, with remote participation options; see:
https://wwals.net/?p=60792


January 26, 2023

To: Scott Koons, E.D., North Central Florida Regional Planning Council

Re: Limit water withdrawals, strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp, Valdosta trash

Dear NCFRPC,

Thank you for the opportunity for public input.

I would like to bring to the attention of the Council three issues:

[Three topics for NCFRPC from WWALS 2023-01-26]
Three topics for NCFRPC from WWALS 2023-01-26

  1. Deadline January 31st for public comment on the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (NFRWSP), Continue reading

Agenda: North Central Florida Regional Planning Council 2023-01-26

Update 2023-01-26: Limit water withdrawals, strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp, Valdosta trash –WWALS to NCFRPC 2023-01-26.

Tonight I will ask them to take up Valdosta trash as an issue like they previously successfully took up Valdosta sewage.

I will ask them to oppose the proposed titanium strip mine and to support the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, and the Floridan Aquifer.

And I will ask them to ask SRWMD and SJRWMD to add a water budget and constraints on water withdrawals to the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (NFRWSP).

[When and Where NCFRPC 2023-01-26]
When and Where NCFRPC 2023-01-26

Now I am composing a letter to send them before the meeting. Continue reading

Report: Conditions wanted on Morven Solar by Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-20

Update 2023-02-06: Videos: Morven Solar at Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19.

In front of a standing-room-only audience, and after long hesitation, the Brooks County Planning Commission voted 3-1 to recommend Conditional Approval for the Morven Solar project, pending “A Valid Road use Agreement put in-place” and “Erosion Measures provided and Filtration Plants in the Retention Ponds”.

Here is the report sent from the Planning Commission to the County Commission for its decision on February 6th. The report has some puzzling omissions.

[Meeting 2023-01-19, Recommendation 2023-01-20]
Meeting 2023-01-19, Recommendation 2023-01-20

Staff still recommends denial, and the included Staff Analysis is the same as provided before the Planning Commission meeting. Continue reading

Public Comment on land use plan for titanium strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp –GA-EPD 2023-01-19

GA-EPD is providing more public comment opportunity than it has been promising for the past year. It has opened a comment period on Twin Pines Minerals Mining Land Use Plan, after which it will do what it previously promised: issue a draft permit and open a comment period on that.

You can object now to that titanium dioxide strip mine for white paint far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, and sits above the Floridan Aquifer from which we all drink in south Georgia and north Florida. You can email or paper mail your comments, or join one of two zoom webinars.

The comment deadline is 60 days after the notice of yesterday, so apparently Monday, March 20, 2023.

[Proposed Project Location, 2-MLUP-App-N-b-Modeling-the-Groundwater-Flow-System-on-Trail-Ridge-9-14-2021-Figs-Tables-and-Apps-0012]
Proposed Project Location, 2-MLUP-App-N-b-Modeling-the-Groundwater-Flow-System-on-Trail-Ridge-9-14-2021-Figs-Tables-and-Apps-0012

The Twin Pines Minerals Draft Mining Land Use Plan and Associated Documents for Public Comment are on the GA-EPD website, and also on the WWALS website.

Here is the public notice: Continue reading

Forever chemical residue can even be in your house lot 2022-11-27

That house you bought may come with forever chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which can harm human (and wildlife) health in many ways.

Florida permits shipping sewage sludge from south Florida to north Florida for agricultural fertilizer. It’s not clear how prevalent the same practice is in Georgia. But from fields it can wash into waterways, and subdivisions may be built on fields that had sludge applied.

[Human health, house PFAS sources]
Human health, house PFAS sources

Marina Schauffler, The Main Monitor, November 27, 2022, Forever exposure, forever anxiety: Coping with the inescapable toxicity of PFAS: Found in water, air, soil, food, consumer products and work settings, “forever chemicals” pose risks to both physical health and mental well-being.

At the end of Joy Road in Fairfield, a steep dead-end road climbs a hillside to a scattering of homes with distant mountain views and some of the higher concentrations of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) the state has found to date in groundwater. The neighbors here live under what one resident, Nathan Saunders, called the “cloud of an unknown future,” fearing how PFAS exposure may erode their health.

Continue reading

Agenda: One item, Morven Solar @ Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Update 2023-01-18: Pictures: sites of Morven Solar 2023-01-18.

It may be a long meeting even with only one item, since Morven Solar seems to be contentious.

[Aerial Map of Morven Solar and Agenda, Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19]
Aerial Map of Morven Solar and Agenda, Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Here is the agenda, received in response to a WWALS open records request from Brooks County Zoning and Code Enforcement Agent Melissa Smith. Continue reading

Morven Solar rezoning proposed around Slaughter Creek, Little River @ Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19

Update 2023-01-18: Agenda: One item, Morven Solar @ Brooks County Planning Commission 2023-01-19.

A large solar project, in agricultural fields and pecan groves scattered around wetlands, will be heard by the Brooks County Planning Commission at 5:30 PM this Thursday, January 19, 2023, at 610 S Highland Road, Quitman, GA 31643.

[Morven Solar, Slaughter Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Morven Solar, Slaughter Creek, Withlacoochee River

Staff’s recommendation:

Due to the staff’s concern of the amount of “prime farmland”, the quantity of jurisdictional wetlands, the threatened and candidate species potential impacts, and the amount of access roads because the parcels are not contiguous (especially Peach Road — dirt), the Staff recommends DENIAL of the applicant’s proposed use as a Large-Scale Solar Energy System.

WWALS is generally in favor of solar power, but this project raises serious doubts, most of which are expressed in the Staff Analysis.

The final decision will be made by the Brooks County Commission, 5:00 PM, Monday, February 6, 2023, also at 610 S Highland Road, Quitman, GA 31643.

The project is between Morven and Hahira, straddling Slaughter Creek, upstream from the Little River. Continue reading