Tag Archives: Columbia County

O’Brien man places in songwriting contest –Lake City Reporter 2021-08-24

Staff Report, Lake City Reporter, August 24, 2021, “O’Brien man places in songwriting contest: Wingate one of nine finalists from across the southeast.” [See also Valdosta Today.]

VALDOSTA — Chosen from a record number of finalists, an O’Brien man was one of three winners named Saturday night at the fourth annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

Out of the nine finalists that competed at the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts’ Art Park, O’Brien’s KJ Wingate won for the best song from inside the Suwannee River basin. Wingate won a $50 prize from the WWALS Watershed Coalition for his folk/country song, “The Hymn of Convict Spring.”

[Lake City Reporter, KJ Wingate, Rachel Grubb]
Lake City Reporter, KJ Wingate, Rachel Grubb
Finalists that competed in the fourth annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting contest included O’Brien’s KJ Wingate (from left), Katherine Ball, David Rodock, Sweet William Billy Ennis, Jimi Davies and his brother, Kathy Lou Gilman and Rachel Hillman. Not pictured are Brandon Fox and Lake City’s Rachel Grubb, who could not attend. Angela Duncan Courtesy of WWALS.

Other winners Saturday included Continue reading

Petition to EPA: protect from radioactive phosphogypsum stacks

Many groups in many states yesterday petitioned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve federal oversight of radioactive waste and wastewater from phosphogypsum stacks.

“WWALS opposes expansion of the decades-old moonscape of a phosphate mine in Hamilton County, and another proposed in Union and Bradford Counties,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper. “These mines not only suck up massive amounts of water that reduce spring and river flows, they feed ever-growing phosphogypsum stacks with radioactive waste.”

PCS Phosphate Mine, 2016-10-22, WWALS Southwings flight
PCS Phosphate Mine 2016-10-22, Southwings flight for WWALS, pictures by Jim Tatum, https://wwals.net/?p=32043


For Immediate Release, February 8, 2021 Continue reading

Tonight Columbia BOCC can stop Niagara from bottling water 2020-01-07

Tonight at 5:30 PM the Columbia BOCC will vote on a water bottling operation by Niagara Bottling that has already been rejected by the Columbia County, Florida, Economic Advisory Board. The Board of County Commissioners makes the actual decision.

Especially if you live in Columbia County, please attend or send them email or call them. We don’t need more plastic bottles to clean up and we don’t need more drawdown of the aquifer and rivers. See the letter below by Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson for much more on what and why.

Besides, the demands Niagara makes sound like private prison company demands to have a certain number of prisoners or else penalties. For example:

Phase 1 water obligations of 650,000 gallons per day by Lake City to provide water is only relieved after Columbia County receives a non-appealable water use permit authorization sufficient to meet company’s water requirements at build out of 2,860,00 gallons per day of potable water and Columbia County has all water infrastructure completed and can independently serve the company.

The purpose of a county government is not to serve a private company from somewhere else.

See also background news stories by Stew Lilker, Columbia County Observer:

The word “potential” is important: just because a company promises jobs doesn’t mean they would actually appear. And if water bottling companies and phosphate mines and agriculture keep draining the aquifer, what jobs will be left?

Letter by Merrilee Malwitz-Jipson to Columbia BOCC


November 6, 2021

Good Evening Gentlemen,

I am a resident of Columbia County. I identify with and volunteer for a citizen based organization named Our Santa Fe River which opposes bottled water businesses in our region in order to protect our freshwater springs, rivers and public water supplies found in wells and municipality service systems.

Tomorrow night, Columbia County (FL) Board of County Commission meeting will be discussing and possibly voting on the Belle Project (Niagara water bottling plant proposal).

Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 5:30 P.M.
School Board Administrative Complex
372 West Duval Street

Regular scheduled meeting Agenda: Continue reading

Proposal for the Recharge of the Upper Floridan Aquifer –D.J. Price P.G. 2016-11-14

Dennis J. Price, P.G., sent this proposal to the committee for the North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan (NFRWSP), and that WWALS included in our comments.

They duly noted it in their matrix of comments. But, so far as I can tell, they did not follow any of its recommendations.

[Map and Proposal]
Map and Proposal

See also Dennis’s other letter on this subject.


SE ENVIRONMENTAL GEOLOGY
DENNIS J. PRICE, P.G.
P.O. BOX 45
WHITE SPRINGS, FL 32096
cell 362-8189, den1@windstream.net
Recharge-Proposal.pdf

November 14, 2016

North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership

RE: PROPOSAL FOR THE RECHARGE OF THE UPPER FLORIDAN AQUIFER IN THE NORTH FLORIDA FLATWOODS ENVIRONMENT, HAMILTON, COLUMBIA, UNION, BAKER AND ALACHUA COUNTIES.

My proposal is directed towards those areas in the SRWMD and the SIRWMD that are underlain by the Hawthorn formation resulting in extensive areas containing a surficial aquifer and the intermediate aquifers that exist in the Hawthorn. Recharge to the Floridan is retarded by the presence of the clay layers in the Hawthorn. Very large wetland systems are common in these areas.

Water balance studies were produced twice that I am aware of in the SRWMD, one by Continue reading

The NFRWSP’s job is to figure out how to increase water levels in the aquifer. –Dennis J. Price 2016-12-12

This is a letter Practicing Geologist Dennis J. Price wrote for publication.

December 12, 2016

RE: North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership

About 5 years ago, a report prepared for the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) indicated that under North Columbia County, East Hamilton County and Baker County, ground water levels in the Floridan aquifer (the aquifer the majority of us citizens get our water from) had dropped about 20 feet, more or less. The effects of the loss of that 20 feet was first felt and is very obvious in White Springs, 13 miles north of Lake City. The spring quit flowing for all intents and purposes. Tourism and the Towns economy plummeted.

[2019-04-03 White Sulfur Spring Flowing]
2019-04-03 White Sulfur Spring Flowing, so unusual an event it was reported for SRWMD by their Senior Hydrologist Fay Baird.

The report placed the greatest blame for the drawdown on water use by the coastal communities of South Georgia and North Florida. Scientists from the St. John’s River Water Management District (SJRWMD) at first concurred with this assessment. After objections from the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) and the removal of several key employees at the SJRWMD, the SJRWMD said they weren’t sure anymore and a study needed to be done.

So, you guessed it, a committee was formed, The North Florida Regional Water Supply Partnership (NFRWSP). Don’t get me wrong regarding this committee, it is probably the single most important committee ever formed in our area. Their plans will affect the continued growth of North Florida communities along with the economy and recreational opportunities in our lakes and rivers.

Figure C3: Aquifer surface change due to withdrawals in north Florida and south Georgia

The NFRWSP’s job Continue reading

Columbia County, FL, Parks Ordinance, No. 2020-08, 2020-06-18

Columbia County Attorney Joel Foreman sent a copy of this ordinance (see PDF) within minutes of being asked, along with this explanation:

Attached is the version of the Ordinance that was signed. The amendment was made at adoption to 78-3(B), adding that the Board would approve any supplemental rules by resolution.

Columbia County, FL BOCC Special Called Meeting 2020-06-18

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson posted the below explanation on facebook (reposted here with permission): Continue reading

Rum Island absorbed within Columbia County Park Ordinance: BOCC vote 2020-06-18

Update 2020-07-03: As amended and passed, Columbia County, FL, Parks Ordinance, No. 2020-08, 2020-06-18.

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 18, new rules for Rum Island Park will be voted on by the Columbia County BOCC. This park with its public boat ramp is a popular access to the Santa Fe River and its springs.

[Cover Sheet]
Cover Sheet

At the previous meeting in which they scheduled this meeting, Columbia County Commissioners were heard complaining about kayak and canoe outfitters being some sort of problem.

June 4, 2020, Columbia, County, FL, BOCC Regular Session video

The greatly expanded definitions in the ordinance add permits, with a limit of a total of four permits for “regular commercial uses of parks or recreational facilities”. It’s not clear what “uses” means. Does that include dropping off customers at a public boat ramp? Parking outfitter vehicles? Other?

Presumably issuing permits for fees will affect later budgets. Note that the agenda sheet only says “This item has no effect on the current budget.”

You can comment if you attend, or you can send email beforehand; see below.

WWALS has no official position, although we will send a letter asking the BOCC to be sure such permits don’t interfere with Sec. 78-6(C):

“(C) Boats, including human-powered craft and boats of common horsepower motors, shall be allowed.”

So far as I know, Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) also has no official position.

When: 5:30 PM, Thursday, June 18, 2020

Where: Columbia County School Board Administrative Complex Auditorium, 372 West Duval Street, Lake City, Florida 32055

What: Special called meeting of the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners

Purpose: To adopt a Rum Island Park Ordinance within a broad Columbia County Park Ordinance that includes all of the recreational holdings of the county.

To comment: Attend in person. Or send email to:
To: Board Secretary Penny Stanley <penny_stanley@columbiacountyfla.com>
Cc: County Attorney Joel Foreman <jforeman@columbiacountyfla.com>
Subject: Columbia County BOCC Park Ordinance

Thanks to Continue reading

Videos: Don’t split farms, and don’t harm nature, schools, or aquifer, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Toll roads splitting farms would be generational damage, said farmer Ernest Culver of Jackson County, and the Task Force doesn’t take into account churches or schools, not to mention nature, rivers, or the Floridan Aquifer, said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Columbia County, at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

[Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson]
Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

The idea of repurposing toll roads funds for virus pandemic relief continues to get more at least indirect support. Craig Pitman, Florida Phoenix, 9 April 2020, Does Florida still need that trio of billion-dollar toll roads?,

Florida’s controversial new toll roads hit a potential roadblock this week.

Two of them are supposed to Continue reading

BIG Little River Paddle Race in Lake City Reporter 2020-02-22

Thanks to Jim Tatum for sending us this very nice article by Monty Stephens, Lake City Reporter, February 22-23, 2020, Paddling for Great Cause — Clean Water in Our Rivers:

[Page0009-0001]
Page0009-0001
PDF

The “Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race” is scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2020. Everyone that drinks or uses water needs to support this worthwhile “Cause.” The “Cause” is clean water in our rivers. This is a [3] mile canoe, kayak, [but not paddleboard] race. It can be a leisurely float down the [Little] River to [Reed Bingham State Park Lake] or an “All out fierce race,” your choice. The [WWALS] Watershed Coalition is a non-profit organization that supports the Suwannee [Riverkeeper].

[Below the bridge (BW)]
Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of the 2019 race start.

The [Suwannee Riverkeeper] works to protect the Suwannee River and its tributaries, the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, [Little, and Santa Fe Rivers]. These rivers join together and become the Suwannee River as they flow through North Florida and out into the Gulf.

Here is the problem, civilization in general, tends to create pollution. The traditional method of dealing with pollution is to dump it somewhere, let the wind will blow it away, or dump it in a river. In other words, “Just get rid of it.” None of these methods deal with the real problem. Dumping pollution in the river just creates issues for people downstream. Since we’re in Florida, we’re “Downstream.” This is why we need a Riverkeeper.

Our Riverkeeper is Continue reading

Okapilco Creek better, Withlacoochee still clean 2020-01-22

Update 2020-01-25: Florida advisory lifted, but WWALS warning signs stay up, and keep testing rivers, creeks and wells.

Okapilco Creek is down from 2419.6 cfu/100 mL E. coli last Thursday to 365 yesterday, Wednesday, January 22, 2020, according to data from Lowndes County received during the Florida Rivers Task Force meeting in Lake City.

[Okapilco Creek in Brooks County]
Okapilco Creek in Brooks County in Brooks County Tax Appraiser map.

That’s still higher than we’d like to see, but not way up in don’t touch the water range like before.

[Lowndes County 2020-01-22]
Lowndes County 2020-01-22
Thanks to Lowndes County Chairman Bill Slaughter for sending these results, which are on the WWALS website along with the entire entire updated WWALS composite spreadsheet of all results from all sources.

Where did that contamination go? Did it show up on Continue reading