Tag Archives: Chris Mericle

Pictures: WWALS on The Rocks between Lakeland and Hotchkiss, Alapaha River 2015-07-11

Update 2023-06-24: Work in progress at Lakeland Boat Ramp 2023-06-20.

A good trip for experienced adult paddlers: deadfalls to paddle around or climb over, the famous rapids, The Rocks, plenty of sandy beaches for lunching or swimming beside, a mysterious platform that may be the remains of a very narrow bridge, all in a fine summer day on the Alapaha River, July 11, 2015.

[Collage, Lakeland to Naylor 08:30:00, 31.0458222, -83.0433889]
Collage, Lakeland to Naylor 08:30:00, 31.0458222, -83.0433889

It took us seven hours to paddle the fourteen river miles from Lakeland Boat Ramp, on GA 122 east of Lakeland, to Hotchkiss Road Landing. We were all experienced paddlers with plenty of supplies, especially water.

If you are a family with small children, please do not try this: it’s too far. There have been cases of such families calling 911 and having to be rescued.

A much more reasonable family paddle is Lakeland to Burnt Church Landing. That’s about two miles, and can be done in an hour. Or make it a leisurely paddle and still it should be doable.

FYI, Paffords Landing, just downstream from Lakeland Boat Ramp, is closed for the forseeable future. This is because too many people left trash and shot up things.

All these distances are in the WWALS web page for the Continue reading

Pictures: Sullivan Launch to Madison Blue Spring Withlacoochee River 2015-10-24

A fine day, balmy, breezy, sunny, with springs and rapids and fine company, from Sullivan Launch to Madison Blue Spring on the Withlacoochee River, in the October WWALS Outing, October 24, 2015.

[Onwards from Hardee Spring 30.5444069, -83.2500076]
Onwards from Hardee Spring 30.5444069, -83.2500076

This is part of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail, and you can join the committee!

Below are some pictures. Click on any small picture to see a larger version. Pictured: many shoals and rapids.

[Pinetta Gage steps and old-style measure 30.5957374, -83.2598038]
Pinetta Gage steps and old-style measure 30.5957374, -83.2598038

The Pinetta gage (pictured) read 6.4 feet. Any lower and more dragging boats would have been necessary. Lots of cypress, oaks, pines, and other native species.

Not pictured: a large turtle, numerous birds (heron, ibis, hawk, buzzard, others), and fish (mullet, bass). No gators. Very few invasive species, except the notorious Japanese climbing fern.

Watch the WWALS Outings for more outings and events!

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!


[WWALS at Madison Blue Spring --Gretchen Quarterman]
WWALS at Madison Blue Spring –Gretchen Quarterman



Pinnetta Gauge

[Pinetta Gage Tower 30.5957374, -83.2598038]
Pinetta Gage Tower 30.5957374, -83.2598038

Old Belleville Bridge

[Belleville Bridge buttress from below 30.5953369, -83.2596130]
Belleville Bridge buttress from below 30.5953369, -83.2596130

On the water

[CR 150 bridge, looking upstream 30.5956955, -83.2594681]
CR 150 bridge, looking upstream 30.5956955, -83.2594681

First Shoals

[Shoals 30.5941982, -83.2590637]
Shoals 30.5941982, -83.2590637


[Gretchen and the boaters 30.5822926, -83.2627106]
Gretchen and the boaters 30.5822926, -83.2627106

Second Shoals

[More shoals 30.5819988, -83.2626953]
More shoals 30.5819988, -83.2626953

First Spring

[Coffee Spring 30.5775184, -83.2618179]
Coffee Spring 30.5775184, -83.2618179


[Froth 30.5762119, -83.2609482]
Froth 30.5762119, -83.2609482

Third Shoals

[Sighting the rapids 30.5697098, -83.2624817]
Sighting the rapids 30.5697098, -83.2624817

On down the river

[Two directions 30.5679722, -83.2606277]
Two directions 30.5679722, -83.2606277


[Island, or rather eyott? 30.5653133, -83.2575378]
Island, or rather eyott? 30.5653133, -83.2575378


[Fossils for lunch 30.5626812, -83.2563248]
Fossils for lunch 30.5626812, -83.2563248

River House

[House 30.5626812, -83.2563248]
House 30.5626812, -83.2563248

Left bank island

[Island on left 30.5626812, -83.2563248]
Island on left 30.5626812, -83.2563248


[Confab 30.5626812, -83.2563248]
Confab 30.5626812, -83.2563248

Tiny Fourth Shoals

[White water 30.5529365, -83.2608795]
White water 30.5529365, -83.2608795

Soon Spring

[Spring coming up 30.5446434, -83.2505264]
Spring coming up 30.5446434, -83.2505264

Hardee (Rossetter) Spring

[Hardee Spring dam 30.5446434, -83.2505264]
Hardee Spring dam 30.5446434, -83.2505264

After Hardee

[Onwards from Hardee Spring 30.5444069, -83.2500076]
Onwards from Hardee Spring 30.5444069, -83.2500076

Rock Tree

[Dan and the rock tree 30.5336761, -83.2483062]
Dan and the rock tree 30.5336761, -83.2483062


[Undercut caves 30.5118561, -83.2455368]
Undercut caves 30.5118561, -83.2455368


[A boat ramp 30.5118217, -83.2455063]
A boat ramp 30.5118217, -83.2455063

Black Rocks

[Interesting black rocks 30.4932423, -83.2414474]
Interesting black rocks 30.4932423, -83.2414474

Fifth Shoals

[Rapids 30.4910717, -83.2443161]
Rapids 30.4910717, -83.2443161

Karst Tree

[Karst tree 30.4899406, -83.2438965]
Karst tree 30.4899406, -83.2438965


[Green bank, white bird 30.4822121, -83.2433777]
Green bank, white bird 30.4822121, -83.2433777

FL 6 Bridge

[FL 6 bridge from downstream 30.4812660, -83.2434616]
FL 6 bridge from downstream 30.4812660, -83.2434616


[Just around those logs 30.4810009, -83.2436981]
Just around those logs 30.4810009, -83.2436981

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!

Valdosta sewage from Sugar Creek to Florida 2019-01-01 2020-01-01

Update 2020-01-03 Valdosta Sewage Public Meeting, Valdosta City Hall Annex, 2020-01-08.

You can see Valdosta’s sewage going down the Withlacoochee River as the high red numbers in these composite tables WWALS has cobbled together from various data sources (all acknowledged below).

Early on, the sewage apparently mostly sat in Sugar Creek downstream from the spill site, due to low water and no rain.

[Early (12/10-12/18)]
Early (12/10-12/18)

Most of the Georgia numbers in above table are from Valdosta Utilities data. The ones marked with a W are WWALS data using the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream 3M Petrifilms method.

Fecal coliform numbers started dropping in Sugar Creek at Gornto Road on December 14, and were much more acceptable by December 15 and 16th. Where did the sewage go? Continue reading

Valdosta sewage in Florida 2019-12-26

Update 2020-01-01: Much cleaner at Knights Ferry and State Line in Georgia; Valdosta Sewage is in Florida 2019-12-30

Apparently the biggest slug of Valdosta sewage passed the state line on December 26, 2019.

[Testing locations]
Testing locations

Thanks to Chris Mericle for forwarding the December 25 and 26 data from the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), which I think is getting from from the Florida Department of Health (FDOH). I’ve combined those data in a table with the numbers from December 24, and ordered them from north (upstream) to south (downstream).

Here are the preliminary Continue reading

High E. coli at state line in Florida DOH water quality data 2019-12-24

According to data sent yesterday by Florida Department of Health (FDOH), Valdosta found elevated E. coli and Fecal coliform counts at US 84, 14 miles downstream from Sugar Creek, on December 18th.

[14-18 Dec 2019]
14-18 Dec 2019

That is consistent with Suzy Hall finding high E. coli counts at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp 8.44 miles downstream and three days later on December 21st.

It’s also consistent with FDOH detecting elevated E. coli after a rainy weekend at the state line 15.55 miles and three more days later on December 24th.

[24 Dec 2019]
24 Dec 2019

FDOH sent no data from Valdosta for any days after Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper asks Georgia EPD to require Valdosta to do better about its record sewage spill 2019-12-17


Hahira, Georgia, December 19, 2019 — Compelled by the severity of Valdosta’s record raw sewage spill and the expenses and stigma incurred nearby and downstream, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition has sent a letter requesting ten enforcment actions to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD). WWALS member Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, summed it up: “As a person living downstream on the Withlacoochee River in Florida, I feel shat upon by Valdosta over and over. I cannot drink the water from my well. I worry about the health of the river itself and the animals that live in it and drink from it. We in Florida were patient while Valdosta was improving their wastewater plant, which apparently was not adequate since we still have spills when it rains heavily. But this time it was not a rain event. It was gross negligence. I am out of patience. I believe it is time for legal action.”

The Suwannee Riverkeeper letter notes GA-EPD already has a legal action against Valdosta, a Consent Order. WWALS asks GA-EPD to use its enforcement power to require notification, water quality testing, education, and plans and procedures not only for preventing such spills but also for tracking them as they travel down our creeks and rivers and for remediation of effects on wells and reputation.


“Valdosta says it does what GA-EPD tells it to do, so we’re asking GA-EPD to tell them,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Today we’re forwarding the letter to Continue reading

Sabal Trail, WWALS, OSFR’s Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, and FERC’s John Peconom in Jasper, FL 2014-10-21

Four years ago Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson set the festive tone outside a special Sabal Trail Open House:

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and family, Open House
Photo: John S. Quarterman, the family that demonstrates together stays together: “No pipeline in springs heartland” and “No pipeline in my future” and “Stop fossil fuel production”.

Merrillee has been in the thick of opposing fossil fuel boondoggles and promoting clean solar power since at least 2013.

Why was this one of only two Sabal Trail Open Houses in fall 2014, way back when FERC’s John Peconom actually answered when any of us called? Continue reading

2017 Annual Progress Report and 2018 Estimates, Hamilton County Mining Ordinance 2018-05-15

Received May 27, 2018 from WWALS member Chris Mericle:

The Hamilton County BOCC finally at its last meeting (May 15) voted on the Nutrien 5 year permit renewal.

The BOCC voted to approve the permit with the modifications recommended by the environmental consultant and attorney.

[2,3,4,5 Draglines]

I consider this a win for us because it requires Nutrien to: Continue reading

Nutrien (PCS Phosphate mine) 5-year permit renewal 2018-03-16

See also: Nutrien (PCS) mining phosphate and water in Hamilton County and soon in Columbia County? 2018-07-11.

Hamilton County citizen and WWALS member Chris Mericle sent this Friday, with permission to post.

Hey John,

I just wanted to relate to you the status of the 5 year mining permit renewal for Nutrien (formerly PCS).

I was in a long teleconference yesterday afternoon where we were trying to negotiate for several modifications to the mining permit.

Figure 4. Location of existing and proposed Phosphogypsum Stack Systems (PGSS), Map
Figure 4. Location of existing and proposed Phosphogypsum Stack Systems (PGSS), in FINAL REPORT: Review of PCS Phosphate — White Springs; Activities and Operations Related to Five-Year Renewal of Special Permit 03-1. Review Period: January 2013 through December 2017 Prepared tor: Hamilton County Board of County Commissioners. February 23, 2018. Prepared by: Lampl-Herbert

In attendance: Continue reading

Pictures: PCS Phosphate mine permit Public Hearings, Jasper, FL 2018-01-23

See also: Nutrien (PCS Phosphate mine) 5-year permit renewal 2018-03-16.

Update 2018-01-25: Fixed Attorney Scott Shirley’s attribution.

Hamilton County did due diligence by hiring a consultant to review the PCS phosphate mine’s record and permit applications. The Mericles and me were the only non-county non-PCS people who spoke, but the Planning and Zoning Board interacted quite a bit last night at the public hearings. Both the motions they passed recommended approval of the permits, but the second motion included taking into account the points raised by the public, such as better public access to permit materials and review of the mining company’s water quality data.

Some of the cast; Cliff Adams took notes throughout, Public Comment
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Left to right: Deanna Mericle, Consultant Gregory M. Hitz, County Attorney Cliff Adams, Planning and Zoning Board: A.L. Milner(?), Eddie Wynn, Megan Carter, Jim Tompkins, Harrell Tyree, Riley L. Anderson, for PCS: Attorney Scott Shirley, Danny Johnson.

County Attorney Cliff Adams took notes throughout, and there was a sound recording.

The public consisted of Continue reading