Tag Archives: GA EPD

Calling for pictures of swimming, diving, rapids, tubing, water skiing, or surfing, Suwannee River Basin, Georgia

Calling for pictures, personal experience, or other evidence of swimming or diving in lakes and rivers in the Suwannee River Basin, and evidence of investments in recreation.

[Candidate Recreational waterways, Georgia, legend, Suwannee River Basin]
Candidate Recreational waterways, Georgia, legend, Suwannee River Basin

For a waterway to be redesignated Recreational instead of Fishing, as we requested back in 2019, GA-EPD requires evidence of “Primary Contact Recreation,” which it says is “full immersion contact with water where there is significant risk of ingestion that includes, but is not limited to, swimming, diving, white water boating (class 3+), tubing, water skiing, and surfing.”

Recreational designation would mean tighter restrictions on contamination limits. That should be good for fish, fishing, people who swim, fish, and boat, and for eco-tourism.

Could everyone who has pictures, news reports, or other solid evidence of such activities in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia please send them in. That’s in the Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River, Alapaha River, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, Withlacoochee River, or Little River.

Please use this form:
https://forms.gle/DipPgU2TP5atc2Rf9
If you have difficulties with that, please email them to wwalswatershed@gmail.com.

Also, please send any evidence of investments in recreation along any of these waterways, with dollar amounts, if you have them.

No rush. We thought we had until the end of June, but recently GA-EPD truncated the deadline to May 28th. That’s Friday of this week. GA-EPD has indicated that the end-of-week deadline may be flexible, but please send what you’ve got as fast as you can.

They also applied a bunch of criteria, some of which we were previously unaware of, and tossed out many stretches of the rivers. We asked for an appeal process, but they have not provided one. So feel free to send in pictures and other evidence about all stretches, and we’ll see what we can do with them.

The good news is that still on the candidate list for Recreational redesignation is all of the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River in Georgia, Banks Lake, and Grand Bay Creek and Trail within the Grand Bay WMA. Also included is most of the Alapaha River within the Alapaha River Water Trail, but not upstream from the Willacoochee River, and not for ten miles downstream from Lakeland.

But almost all of the Withlacoochee River is eliminated, except for Tiger Creek (at Spook Bridge) to the state line, and all of the Little River is eliminated. Also gone is Lake Irma, because Continue reading

GA 376 Alapahoochee River Bridge to be replaced 2021-05-10

There was quite a bit of advance notice that the bridge that provides the most upstream paddling access to the Alapahoochee River is being replaced, and now the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has given public notice of a variance for a contractor to replace the bridge according to specifications by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and Echols County, Georgia.

[Notice, GA 136 Alapahoochee River Bridge in Lanier County News]
Notice, GA 136 Alapahoochee River Bridge in Lanier County News

This bridge is on the WWALS map of the Alapaha River Water Trail. Continue reading

Sen. Ossoff tries new Valdosta public transit; answers questions about Okefenokee Swamp –Valdosta Daily Times 2021-05-09

Georgia U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff’s positive answer to Suwannee Riverkeeper’s question about the Okefenokee Swamp was covered by the local newspaper of record.

[VDT, Ossoff, Warnock]
VDT, Ossoff, Warnock

You can use the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert to send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) asking it to reject the permit applications for that site; such messages will be forwarded to Georgia elected officials, including U.S. Senators Ossoff and Warnock.
https://www1.wwals.net?p=55092

Bryce Ethridge, Valdosta Daily Times, 6 May 2021, Ossoff: Millions for S.Ga. schools,

During Ossoff’s visit, Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman asked about the proposed heavy mineral sands mine near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

This refuge is the largest east of the Mississippi and carries a hefty amount of wildlife biodiversity. The mine could potentially impact the refuge’s native species, basin hydrology and overall integrity.

Continue reading

Senator Jon Ossoff: Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource 2021-05-06

Update 2021-05-09: Coverage in the local newspaper of record, Sen. Ossoff tries new Valdosta public transit; answers questions about Okefenokee Swamp –Valdosta Daily Times 2021-05-09.

“The Okefenokee is a sacred natural resource. It is a wildlife refuge that must be protected,” said U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff, responding to a question by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, today, in Valdosta, Georgia.

You can use the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert, to send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) asking it to reject the permit applications for that site; such messages will be forwarded to Georgia elected officials, including U.S. Senators Ossoff and Warnock.
https://www1.wwals.net?p=55092

[Valdosta on demand, City Hall, Senator Jon Ossoff on Okefenokee, Valdosta Mayor, Council, Staff, Sen. Ossoff]
Valdosta on demand, City Hall, Senator Jon Ossoff on Okefenokee, Valdosta Mayor, Council, Staff, Sen. Ossoff

Here is the WWALS video: Continue reading

Chemours: new Florida mine, what about next to the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia? 2021-04-23

On the same day the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) filed a notice of intent to issue a permit for a new titanium mine on Trail Ridge in Bradford County, Florida, the Sierra Club posted an action alert for people to ask what does Chemours intend to do about the Twin Pines Minerals mining application within three miles of the Okefenokee Swamp in Charlton County, Georgia?

You can use the Sierra Club Action to ask Chemours to disavow any interest in that Twin Pines Minerals mine or site.
https://act.sierraclub.org/actions/Georgia?actionId=AR0326624

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp welcomed yet another Chemours mine to Georgia just last fall, yet the day before these two events he refused to state an opinion on the proposed mine next to the Okefenokee Swamp. You can ask him to speak up against it, by using the Waterkeeper Alliance Action Alert, which will send a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) and Georgia elected officials asking them to reject the permit applications for that site.
https://www1.wwals.net?p=55092

[Map of mines on Trail Ridge, Twin Pines Minerals, Chemours]
Map of mines on Trail Ridge, Twin Pines Minerals, Chemours

The Twin Pines Minerals proposed mine site is in the middle right of this map, barely southeast of the Swamp, south of Chemours Mission Mine North and Mission Mine South in Georgia, and north of a string of Chemours mines in north Florida, with the new Chemours Trail Ridge South Mine indicated at the bottom end of that row.

Why would Chemours not be interested in a mine in the middle of Trail Ridge, where Twin Pines Minerals has said the mining is the most convenient? Continue reading

Four U.S. Senators ask U.S. FWS to assist GA-EPD against mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-04-28

“Georgia’s senators want the federal government to get involved in the state’s review of a mine proposed at the doorstep of the East Coast’s largest wildlife refuge.”, James Marshall, E&E News, 30 April 2021, Senators worry about mine project near Okefenokee.

And you can still use the Waterkeeper Alliance action alert to Help Suwannee Riverkeeper Save Okefenokee Swamp by sending a message to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division asking them to reject Twin Pines Minerals’ five permit applications, or at least to go through a full process to review them:
https://www1.wwals.net?p=55092

[Letter, Mine site, Senators, Signatures]
Letter, Mine site, Senators, Signatures

Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock also got Senators Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island and Tom Carper from Delaware to co-sign their letter of Wednesday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It’s good they’re doing what many of us asked all the candidates to do in the Georgia Senate race last year.

Mary Landers, Savannahnow, 29 April 2021, U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff urge scrutiny of Okefenokee mining proposal.

The economy was on Warnock’s mind last week when he released a statement about the mining near the Okefenokee.

“I am a fierce champion for strengthening rural economies, and finding ways to ensure rural Georgians don’t just survive, but thrive,” he wrote. “At the same time, the Okefenokee is integral to the local ecology and economy, and we owe it to our planet and the communities that depend on the swamp to ensure its health and integrity for future generations. As a voice for Georgians in the Senate, I look forward to working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and engaging their expertise in these on-going conversations to make sure we protect this cherished Georgia landmark as we work to bring more good-paying jobs to our rural communities.”

Well, that’s good to hear. I look forward to the local Chambers and all the organizations concerned about the Swamp finding some businesses for Charlton County and other rural south Georgia and north Florida counties.

The Letter (PDF)

Continue reading

Georgia Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch WPCP 2021-04-26

A local and Georgia state institution since 1960, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch on GA 122 east of Hahira and just east of the Withlacoochee River has a wastewater treatment pond, which has never reported a spill.

[Entrance arch, WPCP, Founded 1960]
Entrance arch, WPCP, Founded 1960

According to GA-EPD, it has sufficient capacity that it probably never will.

Nonetheless, Monday I went to look at that pond of NPDES Permit No. GA0047228. Thanks to the front office (she did not say her name) for asking the maintenance man (I think she said his name was Mike) to show me the pond. Continue reading

2020 ANNUAL REPORT, Lowndes County Impaired Streams Monitoring 2020-04-07

Some good news: “Low level mercury levels are well below acute standards at all sampling points.”

Some bad news: “fecal coliform sampling results indicated all sampling points exceeded water quality standards for the June and September sampling events.”

[Cover, Franks Creek and Mud Creek]
Cover, Franks Creek and Mud Creek

That’s in the 2020 ANNUAL REPORT from Lovell Enginnering Associates to Lowndes County for its Impaired Streams Monitoring project that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) required the county to do.

Thanks to Lowndes County Engineer Mike Fletcher for sending this report in response to a WWALS open records request. I don’t know why Lowndes County did not publish this report themselves. Maybe they did, and I just haven’t found it online yet.

Working through this data, so far it seems that Franks Creek, which comes down west of Hahira to the Little River, shows spikes in Fecal coliform after rains. Those spikes usually occur downstream of Hahira’s wastewater treatment facility. Continue reading

GA-EPD GORA response about Ray City wastewater permit violations 2021-04-05

Ray City has had a long string of wastewater violations, many each year, going back years, at its wastewater treatment plant on Cat Creek, just below Beaverdam Creek, and 8.36 Cat Creek miles upstream from the Withlacoochee River.

[Catwalk, Outfall, Fecal coliform]
Catwalk, Outfall, Fecal coliform

Most of them did not involve fecal bacteria, but two did, on monthly average, for December 2018 (see page 57), for August 2017 (see page 73). Curiously, none of these violations ever showed up in GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, nor in its underlying spreadsheet going back to 2015, which is as far back as I have it. We have some idea why not about the January and February 2021 Total Suspended Solids (TSS) overflows, but not about the previous incidents.

In response to a Notice of Violation of September 22, 2020, on November 2, 2020, the City of Ray City told GA-EPD it was “in the process of developing a Corrective Action Plan (CAP) to address the issue of non-compliance with the 85% Minimum BOD removal rate stipulated in our NPDES Permit.“ The City proposed to change its sampling method to deal with “periodic low influent BOD levels”, and also to get on with dealing with the “high volumes of infiltration and inflow“ it says is the cause, including filing an application for a CDBG grant before the end of March 2021.

Thanks to Jay Howell of the EPD Southwest office in Albany for scanning and emailing to me the documents of my Georgia Open Records Act (GORA) request of last week. I asked for all the enforcement actions on Ray City that I found listed on EPA ECHO, (see the previous post) together with related correspondence. documents and emailing them to me yesterday. They are on the WWALS website. Update 2021-04-07: website page labels fixed for this GORA document.

This November 2020 CAP is apparently a new one, after the CAP accepted by GA-EPD on June 19, 2019, and submitted by the City on May 2, 2019: Continue reading

Okefenokee Swamp south drains west to Suwannee River

Most of the south end of the Okefenokee Swamp drains west into the Suwannee River.

This is one reason Suwannee Riverkeeper is so interested in stopping titanium strip mine proposed far too near the southeast corner of the Swamp by Twin Pines Minerals LLC of Alabama.

Please send your comments to Georgia officials asking them to thoroughly review and then reject the five permit applications from the miners:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

[WWALS map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin]
WWALS map: All Landings in the Suwannee River Basin

Highlighted on the left is the Little Swannee Creek Confluence with the Suwannee River, several miles downstream from Fargo. That creek connects with Breakfast Branch, which comes down out of the Swamp before crossing FL 2 (GA 94). Orange waterways are in the Suwannee River Basin, and red ones are in the St. Marys River Basin, according to USGS, but see below.

Next to the north is Cypress Creek, which has tributaries way out in the Swamp, and flows pretty much straight west, reaching the Suwannee River a couple of miles downstream of Fargo.

Upstream from Fargo, almost halfway to Griffis Fish Camp, is a creek for which USGS has no name. I’m calling it Strange Island Creek, because it comes west out of the Swamp past North Strange Island and Middle Strange Island. It has branches coming south down from Jack Island. Those islands show up Continue reading