Tag Archives: Aquifer

Forever chemicals in rainwater everywhere 2022-08-02

U.S. EPA may get around to mandatory limits for drinking water later this year.

[Worldwide, graph]
Worldwide, graph

Georgia and Florida have no mandatory limits for these per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Georgia EPD is monitoring drinking water (mostly clean) and some surface water (in north Georgia, with some bad results). FDEP “ continues its efforts to investigate and understand PFAS in the environment and the ecological and human health risks associated with PFAS contamination.

My backup drinking water is rainwater collection. Probably the charcoal filters I use remove PFOAS, although Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals sues Army Corps about oversight of strip mine site near Okefenokee Swamp 2022-06-27

Well, that did not take long. Only three weeks after an Assistant Secretary of the Army told the Army Corps it had to resume oversight of the proposed titanium-dioxide strip mine site too near the Okefenokee Swamp, the miners have sued the Corps. They still want to strip mine for white paint materials within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, an economic engine for southeast Georgia and northeast Florida, and an irreplaceable refuge for numerous land, water, and bird species. That Swamp is the headwaters of the St Marys and Suwannee Rivers, and above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink in south Georgia and north Florida, including for agriculture and industry. There must be better sources of jobs for Charlton County, Georgia.

[Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2022-02-12]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Twin Pines Minerals equipment on proposed mine site 2020-02-12, 30.52081, -82.1261

Mary Landers, The Current, June 27, 2022, Mining company sues Army Corps over project near Okefenokee: Twin Pines claims agency erred in overturning decision and seeking Muscogee Nation’s input.

Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals filed suit against the Army Corps of Engineers last week, claiming the federal agency erred when it bowed to “stakeholder pressure” earlier this month and made it harder for the company to get permits to mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

…In its filing, Twin Pines maintains “The Twin Pines Approved Jurisdictional Determinations were issued in compliance with all laws, regulations, and policies — including the tribal consultation policy — in effect when they were issued.”

More specifically, the company contends Continue reading

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff advocates for protection of the Okefenokee Swamp 2022-05-25

Like Sen. Ossoff, you can help stop a strip mine proposed far too near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, and the mine sits on top of the Floridan Aquifer from which we all drink.

Senator Jon Ossoff is advocating for the protection of the Okefenokee swamp, Kyra Purvis, WFXL, Wednesday, May 25th 2022,

[Sen. Ossoff at the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-05-14]
Sen. Ossoff at the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-05-14

Senator Jon Ossoff is advocating for the protection of the Okefenokee swamp and its national wildlife refuge.

The swamp is currently being looked at by Twin Pines Minerals LLC as a place for titanium mining.

Ossoff is asking for a joint effort between both parties and is calling on all environmental agencies to protect one of Georgia’s most precious natural resources.

“Our state may lose the Okefenokee swamp, this precious natural resource, unless EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), the Army Corps and Georgia’s environmental protection division take action to stop it,” said Ossoff in his call to action, “Overwhelmingly the people of Georgia and of the local community treasure the Okefenokee swamp. But I’m sounding the alarm because we need an all hands-on deck effort now to bring the pressure to bear necessary to save the Okefenokee swamp from destruction.”

Ossoff says he has Continue reading

Bridge to Bridge Suwannee River paddle for White Springs Wild Azalea Festival 2022-03-19

Update 2022-03-15: Due to high water, replaced by Hike: Bell Springs to Big Shoals, Suwannee River 2022-03-19.

Join us for a geologic education paddle through millions of years, on a scenic two-mile stretch of the Suwannee River. Led by Practicing Geologist Dennis J. Price of Hamilton County, Florida, we will pass White Sulphur Spring, the first Floridan Aquifer Spring encountered on the Suwannee River.

Once you land, you can go on up to the Wild Azalea Festival! The festival is conveniently located at the corner of Spring and Bridge Street, 10499 Spring St, White Springs, FL 32096.

[US 41 Bridge past FL 136 Bridge, Suwannee River, White Springs, Florida]
US 41 Bridge past FL 136 Bridge, Suwannee River, White Springs, Florida

Dennis Price explains, “For millions of years, Florida was a limestone platform not connected to the now North American continent. For eons the limestone bed would emerge, the bed surface would erode then sink again, several times. Each time the limestone would build again with a different set of fossils. The last limestone bed to deposit was the Suwannee Limestone. Florida thru this time was separated from the continent by the Suwannee Straits, similar to the Florida straits separating Florida from Cuba. Erosional sediments from the continent was slowly filling the Straits and when finally filled, sediments began covering the limestone that was Florida. These sediments are known as the Hawthorne formation today.”

When: Gather 8 AM, launch 8:30 AM, end 10 AM, Saturday, March 19, 2022

Put In: Suwannee River Wayside Park Ramp @ US 41. From White Springs, travel south on US 41 to the river; the ramp is on the south side in the town park, in Hamilton County.
This is where the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail officially starts, although the WWALS web pages and map include the entire river up into Georgia and the Okefenokee Swamp.

GPS: 30.3255, -82.739167 ,

Take Out: Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park Launch, 11016 Lillian Saunders Drive/U.S. Highway 41, White Springs FL 32096.
$5.00 per vehicle (up to 8 people) State Park entry fee.

White Sulphur Springs is after the second bridge but before the takeout. It was one of the first tourist attractions in Florida. Nowadays you can visit the empty bathhouse, see the trickle of water coming out, and read what Dennis wrote: The NFRWSP’s job is to figure out how to increase water levels in the aquifer. –Dennis J. Price 2016-12-12.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup. Mosquitoes can be bad at dusk so come prepared.

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

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US 41 Little Alapaha River Bridge

Actually, there is a US 41 Little Alapaha River bridge, and it may even be historic. So that’s five bridges across the Little Alapaha River, four above the Swallet, and one below, before its Confluence with the Alapaha River.

[Composite US 41 Little Alapaha River Bridge]
Composite US 41 Little Alapaha River Bridge

The US 41 bridge is the first bridge listed by bridgereports.com for Hamilton County, mislabled as “US-41 (SR-6 & 25) over ALAPAHA RIVER OVERFLOW”. But at 30.52389, -83.01550, it’s much closer to the Little Alapaha River.

At more than a mile east of the Alapaha River, that’s a bit far to be overflow. Continue reading

Groundwater considered important: WWALS to EPA 2022-02-07

WWALS sent EPA some comments on groundwater, which is very important here above the Floridan Aquifer in south Georgia and north Florida.

WWALS also signed on to comments by Waterkeeper Alliance and SELC, but SELC wrote almost nothing about groundwater, and there was more to say than was in the WKA comments. Those other comments are on the WWALS website.

The WWALS comments should appear on regulations.gov, Docket number EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0602, with Comment Tracking Number kzd-8bdc-p6xf, after EPA finishes reviewing it. Here they are in PDF and inline below.

[Dead River Sink, Alapaha River Rise, WWALS Letter to EPA]
Dead River Sink, Alapaha River Rise, WWALS Letter to EPA

Continue reading

Sprawl in an aquifer recharge zone back on the Lowndes County Commission agenda 2022-02-08

The same proposed rezoning in Lowndes County that WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman spoke against in November will be back on the Lowndes County Commission agenda for a decision at 5:30 PM February 8, 2022.

That’s 5:30 PM, Tuesday, February 8, 2022, on the second floor at 327 North Ashley Street, Valdosta, GA 31601.

Remember, this is upstream on the Little River from Florida and Brooks County Georgia, as well as Lowndes County. Because it’s a rezoning, anybody from anywhere can speak during the public hearing at that meeting. However, they will only allow a few people to speak for a few minutes.

So even better would be to send a written objection before the meeting to commissioner@lowndescounty.com. You can also try emailing the Commissioners individually, https://lowndescounty.com/directory.aspx?did=19 Beware that some of the Commissioners do not read their county email addresses, so best to also copy the County Clerk, belinda@lowndescounty.com.

Gretchen spoke against the new version of this rezoning (bigger lots) again Monday at the Greater Lowndes Planning Commission, this time pointing out that when community wells fail, their owners hand them over to the county, which puts the taxpayers on the hook for fixing them, so we don’t need any more community wells. A room full of opponents raised their hands at that meeting, and more than 300 signed a petition against the rezoning.

[Gretchen Quarterman at Planning Commission, aquifer recharge zone, sinkholes]
Gretchen Quarterman at Planning Commission, aquifer recharge zone, sinkholes

The subject property is also near some notorious sinkholes, the Myers Bluff Sinkhole on the Little River, and the Shiloh Road Sinkhole that fortunately did not take down that road or a nearby house. The Snake Nation Road Sinkhole, a bit farther south, forced the county to reroute that road to the tune of about half a million dollars. Continue reading

More than 40 scientists oppose strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-11-30

Dozens of scientists across the U.S. have written a letter spelling out dangers of strip mining near the Okefenokee Swamp.

They couldn’t cover everything, but they found scientific evidence running from habitat loss, fire risk, and lowering the Floridan Aquifer, to dark skies, tourism, and economy, including: “Mining will impact the water quality of the Okefenokee Swamp and downstream rivers, including the St Mary’s and Suwannee Rivers, through release of stored chemicals, including toxic heavy metals.”

You can mention the scientists’ letter when you ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to deny the miners’ permit applications.

[Heavy Mineral Mining In The Atlantic Coastal Plain-0006]
The mine site is labeled Saunders Tract in the middle of this map. See Figure 5.

The situation is no different from when DuPont tried to mine next to the Swamp twenty years ago. As Gordon Jackson points out in The Brunswick News (December 9, 2021), “The argument two decades ago and today is there has never been a comprehensive study to show how much of an impact, if any, disturbing the layered soil would have on the refuge.”

Naturally, the miners disagreed, according to Emily Jones for WABE (December 1, 2021): Continue reading

Supreme Court ruling on underground water could affect proposed titanium strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp

Here’s yet another reason you can cite when you ask the Georgia Enviromental Protection Division (GA-EPD) to stop the mining proposal by Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) to strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, above the Floridan Aquifer.

David Pendered, Saporta Report, January 3, 2022 5:13 pm, Okefenokee Swamp mining proposal could be affected by Supreme Court ruling,

The proposal to mine sand near the Okefenokee Swamp could be affected by a groundbreaking ruling on water rights issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.

[Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days]
Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days

For the first time, justices have determined the same laws that apply to water flowing above ground apply to water in multi-state underground aquifers.

“This court has never before held that an interstate aquifer is subject to equitable apportionment,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a unanimous opinion issued Nov. 22, 2021. This doctrine “aims to produce a fair allocation of a shared water resource between two or more States,” according to the ruling.

The ruling sets a legal foundation to manage future disputes over the usage of interstate groundwater. This issue is expected to arise more frequently as drought and climate change poise to alter the United States’ traditional water supplies and challenge agreements among governments to share water.

This ruling could be brought into play at the proposed mine near the Okefenokee, in part because of the amount of water to be extracted for mining operations from the four-state Floridan Aquifer. For that to happen, a party that has standing to file a lawsuit would have to do so on behalf of one or more of the four states that are above the Floridan Aquifer — Florida, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. Two of these states have previously litigated Georgia’s use of water from the Chattahoochee and Flint rivers. The Supreme Court ruled against Florida’s claim in April.

Continue reading

More water questions from GA-EPD about TPM strip mine too near Okefenokee Swamp 2021-12-07

Since September, GA-EPD has twice more asked the miners for more information on their permit applications to strip mine for titanium dioxide too near the Okefenokee Swamp. We have more questions beyond those. You can ask GA-EPD questions, and to deny the mining permit applications.

On October 20, 2021, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) asked more questions about water: retention, disposal, reclamation. The miners’ answer on November 19th apparently was not satisfactory, because on December 7, 2021, GA-EPD asked more water questions.

[TPM Ponds and Another GA-EPD Letter]
TPM Ponds and Another GA-EPD Letter

I’ve got another: how can Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) with a straight face promise “zero discharge of wastewater” and in the next paragraph say “Overflow from the process water primary overflow pond may occur due to heavy rain events.” That’s exactly what happened after Hurricane Irma at three north Florida Chemours mine sites where TPM was processing tailings, resulting in TPM still being under a Florida Consent Order. What if wastewater overflows into the Okefenokee Swamp during a hurricane or other “heavy rain event”? What stops wastewater even in TPM’s proposed retention ponds from seeping down into the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink?

And another: TPM still shows piezometers for water monitoring on property it does not own, with a disclaimer that it has no access to. So how will TPM monitor that area, which is downhill towards the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the St. Marys and Suwannee Rivers?

You can ask GA-EPD for a moratorium on mining permits, or to deny the permits, or at the very least to examine them very thoroughly and produce the equivalent of the Environmental Impact Statement that the Army Corps should have been working on.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

You can also use Protect Georgia form to end a message to your Georgia statehouse delegation.

Floridians, this mine site is upstream from Florida, and you can also use these forms.

All of this GA-EPD correspondence with the miners and the permit applications is Continue reading