Tag Archives: Alapahoochee River

New Valdosta Directors of Utilities and Public Works 2024-07-01

Congratulations to Jason Barnes on being promoted to Valdosta Director of Utilities after a year as Acting Director.

He has a lot of work left for him by previous city administrations, both in drinking water quality and a planned new well site, and of course in fixing Valdosta’s chronic sewer leaks, overflows, and spills, while expanding the sewer system to accomodate new industry.

[Jason Barnes, Valdosta, Utilities Director 2024-07-01, Water and sewer systems, Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers]
Jason Barnes, Valdosta, Utilities Director 2024-07-01, Water and sewer systems, Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers

The Withlacoochee River gets the most news, because most of Valdosta’s spills have been into creeks that flow into that river. But the collapsed sewer main next to Knights Creek ends up in Mud Swamp Creek, the Alapahoochee River, and the Alapaha River. The city seems to have finally gotten a handle on that one, having replaced most of that sewer main, with the rest to be scheduled as regular repairs instead of expensive emergency fixes.

Nobody is going to be happy until there are no more spills, but I have seen fewer spills that did not last as long since Jason Barnes has been in charge.

About the first thing I heard from him once he became Acting Director was that a sewage spill had contaminated Sugar Creek, so we rerouted from a boating cleanup to an onland cleanup. Jason Barnes showed up in person at that cleanup, where we thanked him for telling us. Continue reading

Alapahoochee River Cleanup, 2024-07-21

Join us for a river cleanup including many deadfalls, some interesting creeks, an old steel bridge, some rapids, and Turket Creek Waterfall.

Most paddlers will paddle and collect trash, and some of us will have chainsaws.

This is a relatively strenuous paddle, so it is not recommended for beginners. It’s only 2.83 river miles, but it’s jam-packed.

Thanks to Bird Chamberlain, who lives nearby, for leading this outing.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 2 PM, Sunday, July 21, 2024

Put In: GA 135 Alapahoochee Landing, Between Jennings, Florida, and Statenville, Georgia, in Echols County, 3/4 mile upstream of the GA-FL line and west of Pear Tree Lane, north side of road, left (west) bank.

GPS: 30.62845, -83.0893

[Alapahoochee River, Cleanup 2024-07-21, GA 135 to, Sasser Landing]
Alapahoochee River, Cleanup 2024-07-21, GA 135 to, Sasser Landing

Continue reading

Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man’s water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium 2024-03-25

Update 2024-03-27: Last days to oppose GA HB 1146, the rich private water system bill 2024-03-27.

Help stop the Georgia legislature from passing bad bills in a rush before it ends Wednesday.

[Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man's water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium]
Help oppose bad Georgia bills HB 1146 rich man’s water system, HB 1172 river trespass, and SB 132 fake Okefenokee moratorium

The former fake dragline mining moratorium that failed got pasted onto another bill, SB 132. Although you cannot even see the current text on the Georgia legislature web page, this slapped-in bill still has too many restrictions on appeals and would do nothing to stop the currently proposed mine or any other mine using different mining methods.

Here’s how to contact your Georgia Senate member:

Here’s how to contact your Georgia House member:

Floridians, please ask your Georgia friends and relatives to do this.

HB 1172 says people can boat or fish on “navigable” rivers, but doesn’t say they can step ashore, even if they capsize. The previous poorly-fashioned bill to define navigable did not pass, so HB 1172 would also leave the possibility of streams long used for boating and fishing getting closed off by private property owners according to Georgia’s antiquated 1863 definition of navigable. Also, removing any mention of the public trust doctrine is not a good idea. Continue reading

A 19th-century navigable definition does not work for 21st-century river economies

We never had bales of cotton boated down the Withlacoochee River, because there are too many shoals.

[19th-century navigable definition; 21st-century river economy]
19th-century navigable definition; 21st-century river economy

But we do get fishing both from the shore and in paddle and power boats up and down our rivers, and for other recreation, There are massive investments by nearby cities and counties and other organizations in cleaning up the rivers for those purposes.

The state of Georgia needs to revise its 19th-century definition of navigability and passage to match the 21st-century present.

The antique 19th-century definition

The Georgia 1863 definition says a navigable stream “is capable of transporting boats loaded with freight in the regular course of trade either for the whole or a part of the year.” See Georgia Navigability Report, 3rd Edition and O.C.G.A. 44-8-5 (2010)

Some people once tried boating down to the Suwannee to establish commerce. They sold the remains of the boat and returned to the former Lowndes County seat of Troupville, at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River. Atlanta Constitution, January 29, 1889, Continue reading

Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 2024-02-27

Update 2024-02-28: Navigability in HB 1397 in GA House Natural Resources & Environment Quality Subcommittee 2024-02-26.

Sent this morning.

[Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 --WWALS 2024-02-27]
Navigable stream additions to GA HB 1397 –WWALS 2024-02-27

February 27, 2024

To: Cc:

Rep. James Burchett (176), james.burchett@house.ga.gov

Rep. John Lahood (175), john.lahood@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Dexter Sharper (177), dexter.sharper@house.ga.gov,

Rep. John Corbett (174), john.corbett@house.ga.gov ,

Rep. Chas Cannon (172), chas.cannon@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Penny Houston (170), penny.houston@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Darlene Taylor (173), darlene.taylor@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Clay Pirkle (169), clay.pirkle@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Leesa Hagan (156), leesa.hagan@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Bill Yearta (152), bill.yearta@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Noel Williams (148), noel.williams@house.ga.gov,

Rep. Patty Bentley (150), patty.bentley@house.ga.gov

Re: Navigable stream additions to HB 1397

Rep. Burchett,

You are invited to the Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle on the Withlacoochee River just west of Valdosta, this Saturday, March 2, 2024. Continue reading

Nashville, Georgia, resolution opposing strip mining in or near the Okefenokee Swamp

Thank you, Nashville, Georgia, Mayor and Council, for passing a resolution supporting the Okefenokee Swamp against the proposed strip mine.

[City of Nashville Resolution and Okefenokee NWR sign]
City of Nashville Resolution and Okefenokee NWR sign

For the increasing number of these resolutions, see:

Please ask your Georgia statehouse members to pass HB 71. Floridians, ask your friends and relatives in Georgia to do that. And ask your city or county in Florida to also pass a resolution.

For more about this issue, see:

The resolution

Continue reading

Training: Water Quality Testing 2024-02-10

Update This class will be ALL in person at John W. Saunders Park, Pavilion #3.

You can learn how to help test water quality in the Suwannee River Basin.

WWALS testing trainer Gretchen Quarterman will do the classroom portion of the course by zoom, followed by hands-on practical training at a waterway with physical distancing. will teach both chemical and bacterial training in person. There is a classroom portion with demonstration, followed by practical and test for each class. Classroom materials will be provided. The tests are on paper and are to be taken on-site.

This is both Chemical and Bacterial training by Georgia Adopt-A-Stream (AAS) methods.

Yes, we can and do use this in Florida as well as Georgia, and we have testers based in Florida.

[WWALS Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Testing Training 2024-02-10]
WWALS Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Testing Training 2024-02-10

We currently have testers on the Little, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Ichetucknee, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers.

We need more of those, and also for the Alapahoochee River, as well as Cat Creek, Beatty Branch, Sugar Creek, Okapilco Creek, and others.

For more, see: https://wwals.net/testing/

Sign up: https://forms.gle/37DawiGAJYoyqtPKA Continue reading

Four more Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17

Update 2024-02-22: Some Knights Creek plans in Valdosta Boone Drive and Knob Hill small sewage spills 2024-02-20.

Update 2024-01-31: Spill from Chemours Trail Ridge South TiO2 mine SE of Starke, FL 2024-01-30.

Four small Valdosta sewage spills appeared in the January 26, 2024 GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report, all listed as happening December 17, 2023, and as “Did not enter State waters”.

[Four small Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17]
Four small Valdosta sewage spills 2023-12-17

However, Valdosta Acting Utilities Director Jason Barnes confirms that these spills did happen. Which you can see for yourself in the pictures I took on January 23 of the Mile Street spill locations.

The most unusual part of these spill reports is that bit for “WATERWAY IMPACTED”: “Did not enter State waters”. That means these spills were stopped and contained before they could reach Knights Creek or Cherry Creek. Which is impressive considering that Sunday, December 17, 2024, saw more than an inch of rain at every gauge we follow, after more than half an inch the previous day. (See below for one reservation about one of these spills.)

Nobody is going to be happy until the number of Valdosta sewage spills is zero. And WWALS continues watching closely.

However, watching also includes complimenting Valdosta Utilities when things go right. So, congratulations, Valdosta Utilities, for catching these spills before they did any damage.

Curiously, these spills did not appear in the next day’s Sewage Spills Report, or in any later days. Considering recent typos in those GA-EPD Sewage Spills Reports, I’m assuming those later omissions are due to EPD’s problems with lack of staffing and funding.

Let’s look at each of these spills. Continue reading

Dirty Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers 2024-01-11

Update 2024-01-19: Three Clean Rivers 2024-01-17.

We got bad results for Thursday for one Alapaha River site and horrible results for one Withlacoochee River site.

Russ Tatum’s Holly Point site went from zero E. coli for Wednesday to 5,000 for Thursday. We don’t know whether this is related to Valdosta’s Wednesday 100,000-gallon sewage spill into Three Mile Branch to the Withlacoochee River, but it could be. In the last week, no other pollution spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia, and none at all in Florida.

The most recent City of Valdosta Withlacoochee River results we have are for Monday, and they are all too high after last Saturday’s rain. There was more rain Tuesday, and a bit more yesterday (Friday).

If I were you, I would avoid the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers this weekend. Maybe even the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers.

We shall see whether the Withlacoochee is clean enough and low enough Sunday week for the Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-21.

[Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-11]
Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-11

WWALS tester Kimberly Godden Tanner tested the Alapaha River at Lakeland Boat Ramp @ GA 122 and at Naylor Park Beach @ US 84. She wrote, “Both locations were clean [of trash]. The only additional item of note was a couple a dead fish on the ground at the boat ramp in Lakeland. I am not a fisher, so I am unaware of why this might be.” Continue reading

Three Clean Rivers 2024-01-04

Update 2024-01-13: Valdosta sewage spill, Three Mile Branch, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-10.

We got excellent results for eleven sites on three rivers for Thursday: Alapaha, Withlacoochee, and Santa Fe. Valdosta’s Wednesday results on the Withlacoochee River in Georgia concurred. Even Valdosta’s weekly test results on Knights Creek concurred.

However, there was almost an inch of rain upstream this Saturday morning, so that may have washed E. coli into the rivers, but probably not a lot.

More rain is predicted starting tomorrow. Meanwhile, the rivers are back down to reasonable levels. So if you don’t mind being chilly, happy fishing, swimming, and boating this weekend, and once again Happy New Year!

Please join us on zoom this Thursday as Fannie Gibbs kicks off the new WWALS Webinar series.

Please join us in two weeks for a Sunday Langdale Park to Sugar Creek Chainsaw Cleanup, Withlacoochee River 2024-01-21.

[Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-04]
Chart, Rivers, Map 2024-01-04

In the last week, no pollution spills were reported in the Suwannee River Basin in Florida.

And no new ones in Georgia. But GA-EPD corrected the December 11 Valdosta major spill location on December 28 to 1850 E Park Ave. That’s better, since that is where the problem sewer line is. I still don’t know why latlong GPS coordinates cannot also be included. Florida requires them for every report.

On January 2, GA-EPD corrected the December 17 Quitman wastewater plant lift station spill to Quitman instead of DeKalb County.

Thanks, GA-EPD, for the corrections, after Suwannee Riverkeeper asked you to look into it. Continue reading