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.Continue reading
Update 2021-06-27: Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27.
Going by WWALS water quality testing results for Thursday, it’s best to stay off the Withlacoochee River, and maybe the Alapaha River, for a few more days.
Very unusual: too-high E. coli on the Alapaha River, at Willacoochee Landing on GA 135 in Atkinson County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Valerie Folsom. There was a lot of rain upstream in the previous few days, which make me wonder about the city of Alapaha’s wastewater treatment plant.
Unfortunately expected: way-high E. coli on the Withlacoochee River, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, downstream of Okapilco Creek, with many thousand cattle in Brooks County, Georgia. Thanks to WWALS tester Michael Bachrach. Don’t be surprised if Quitman had a spill and gets around to reporting it about a week later.
Somewhat puzzling: downstream on the Withlacoochee results range from acceptable to clean as a whistle at Cleary Bluff, between Allen Ramp and the Suwannee River. Thaks to WWALS tester Gus Cleary. Even with the river high and fast after the recent rains, it takes a little while for the contamination to wash downstream. Three inches of rain fell in Brooks County Thursday, so don’t be surprised if things get dirty downstream.
We have no new data upstream of Knights Ferry, because we had a technical glitch with upstream WWALS tests.
Meanwhile, Valdosta has posted nothing newer than for Monday. They did catch up to last week with the downstream data, which corroborated what we already knew from WWALS tests.
The Tuesday too-high Madison Health result for the state line still has not appeared on the FDEP website. Continue reading
Dan and Dylan Phillips planted posts and later went back and put signs on them for three locations on the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT).
They plan to finish planting all of the ARWT at-water signs in Georgia soon. Just in Georgia, because these signs, posts, and related brochures were mostly paid for by a generous grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR). We also thank the counties of Berrien, Atkinson, Lanier, Lowndes, and Echols for their support for the ARWT, either through a resolution in support of the ARWT, or through permission to plant signs.
All of these locations have the same top sign for the entire Alapaha River Water Trail: Continue reading
Voters in every county in Georgia approved Amendment 1, to dedicate state fees and taxes to their stated purposes. The statewide victory was 81.6%.
There is more work to do, to get the legislature to use this new law to stop taxes from being diverted to the general fund, so for example counties and cities can get more grants for tire amnesties. But now the mechanism is available.
That wasn’t the only good referendum news, and there is more voting for clean water to do.
The other good clean water news is that Amendment 2 passed with 74.5% Yes, also passing in every county. That’s HR 1023: people may petition for declaratory relief from certain acts of this state or certain local governments or officers or employees.
Dave Williams, Capitol Beat News Service, 4 November 2020, Georgia voters pass three ballot questions by wide margins,
The sovereign immunity amendment stems from a 2014 Georgia Supreme Court decision that essentially granted the state blanket immunity from citizen lawsuits in a case brought by the Center for a Sustainable Coast. The group had filed suit alleging the state Department of Natural Resources was illegally allowing alterations to private property in fragile coastal wetland areas protected by state law.
So that’s two victories for clean water by the people of the state of Georgia.
A Public Service Commission runoff that was scheduled earlier will also be on January 5, 2021. WWALS has long advocated for GA-PSC to make responsible decisions on power plants and pipelines that affect all our waters, from water levels to coal ash to mercury.
Once again, we urge you to vote for clean water.
As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, WWALS cannot Continue reading
Update 2020-11-18: Landslide Yes on Georgia Amendment 1 to dedicate trust funds!
People shouldn’t litter, but individuals are not the real litter problem. The companies that make all those throwaway items are the problem. There are fixes, which we can implement. One fix Georgians can vote on right now: vote Yes on Amendment 1 please!
There was no lack of trash on the Alapaha River in September, at Berrien Beach Boat Ramp in Berrien County and at Berrien Beach in Lanier County. We found the usual cigarette butts, shotgun shells, and yes, a few used diapers.
Plus tires. To help stop tires being dumped by rivers, please vote Yes on Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1 to stop fee diversions.
We found fewer shotgun shells and tires but more of everything else at Twomile Branch in Valdosta, Sugar Creek, and the Withlacoochee River in August.
Come to the big cleanup this Saturday on the Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha Rivers in Lowndes County and on Sugar Creek, Onemile Branch, and Twomile Branch in Valdosta October 10, 2020!
We expect as usual the most numerous items will be plastic and glass bottles and cans.
Sure people shouldn’t litter, but Anheuser-Busch and other beer makers, as well as Nestlé, Coca Cola, and Walmart, should stop making and selling disposable bottles and cans.
Fifty years ago those things had deposits on them, and people would collect them for the cash. In economic downturns such as right now, that could be useful to a lot of people, and a lot more cleanups would happen. Sure, there was still trash back then, but not as much.
People still do in Hawaii and nine other states: California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Vermont, plus Guam. They don’t have nearly as big of a litter problem.
But Georgia or Florida do not have such container deposits. Maybe we should change that.
No, recycling will not solve this problem. There’s no market for plastic to recycle, and recycling has been pushed by big oil for years as an excuse to make more plastic throw-away containers. Laura Sullivan, NPR, 11 September 2020, How Big Oil Misled The Public Into Believing Plastic Would Be Recycled.
You’ve probably seen the famous ‘Crying Indian’ ad from 1971: Continue reading
Update 2020-11-18: Landslide Yes on Georgia Amendment 1 to dedicate trust funds!
Don’t you think taxes and fees charged by a state should go to the purposes the state said they would? Well, in Georgia, many such funds have been mostly diverted to the general fund, and then who knows where. You can vote in this election to stop that: vote Yes on Amendment 1.
Six cities and counties for Amendment 1: Adel, Hahira, and Valdosta, Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties.
For example, the state of Georgia charges a fee on every tire sold, with funds supposed to go to cleaning up old tires and other waste management. Yet more than $50 million of those funds have been diverted to other purposes. It’s not just tires. Other examples of diverted funds include ones for indigent defense and judicial programs, peace officer training, and teen driver training.
There is no organized opposition to Amendment 1. Pretty much the only opposition stated during passage of the authorizing bill was about being able to use funds during an emergency. The bill explicitly allows that. The bill passed the Georgia Senate unanimously and the House with only one vote against.
Organized support for Amendment 1 includes six cities and counties in the Suwannee River Basin: the cities of Hahira, Valdosta, Adel, and Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties, each of which passed a resolution in January 2019 in support of the bill that authorized putting Amendment 1 on the ballot for 2020. Also, the Valdosta Daily Times supported it in an editorial. WWALS supports Amendment 1, as do, so far as we know, all the Riverkeepers of Georgia.
This is how Amendment 1 appears on the ballot:
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended so as to authorize the General Assembly to dedicate revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were intended?
( ) YES
( ) NO
Please vote YES.
Below is the text that Amendment 1, when approved, will add to subparagraph (r)(1) to paragraph VI in section 9 of Article III of the Georgia state constitution: Continue reading
Update 2020-09-13: Pictures.
Cleanup on the Alapaha River in Berrien County, Georgia, at Berrien Beach Boat Ramp.
When: Gather 9 AM, launch N/A, end 12 PM, Saturday, September 12, 2020
Berrien Beach Boat Ramp. Concrete boat ramp on the north side of GA 168, west side of Alapaha River, in Berrien County, Georgia. About 20 minutes east of Nashville, GA, same southwest of Pearson. Less than 45 minutes southeast of Tifton and northeast of Valdosta. About an hour north of Madison, Jasper, Live Oak, or Lake City, FL; two hours north of Gainesville, FL.
The boat ramp is public, but the Berrien (west) side of the river is owned by Langdale Timber Company. Also known as Berrien Beach Landing. Float downstream under the bridge to the sand beaches of Berrien Beach.
Take Out: Berrien Beach Boat Ramp , which is on the WWALS Alapaha River Water Trail.
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.
Actually, you don’t have to bring a boat to this one: there’s plenty of trash to clean up right at the boat ramp.
Free: it’s a cleanup.
However, we recommend you support the work of WWALS by
becoming a WWALS member today!
Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, Public access on north side of bridge, with cement strip boat ramp at higher water level but no facilities. Access road is unpaved and about 1/4 mile long. Nice sandy beach 2014-10-20.
The winner of the second Within These WWALS contest is…
Shirley Kokidko, of Pearson, Atkinson County, Georgia!
She got a packet of WWALS photo notecards for Swamps and Springs from WWALS charter board member emeritus Bret Wagenhorst.
Because all these plants and animals are found in the Okefenokee Swamp, headwaters of the Suwannee River.
Remember to send a comment to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about the titanium strip mine proposed near the southeast corner of the Swamp.
Quiz #4 will start shortly, but first, here are the answers to Quiz #2.
Name the flower: Continue reading
Last night Georgia legislators from all over the state, including numerous committee chairs, feasted on quail supplied by Lowndes County and Valdosta in the annual Bird Supper, a six-decade tradition of local lobbying in the Georgia state capitol.
I thanked Jeff Jones (District 167) for his new coal ash bills, and reminded other legislators to vote for them this year, like they did his earlier ones last year: Continue reading
It was a nice day for a Hike to the Dead River Sink in the Alapaha Quest on the Alapaha River Water Trail, with Practicing Geologist Dennis J. Price of Hamilton County, Florida. Here are some pictures and a Google map from Saturday, January 27, 2018.