Tag Archives: GA EPD

Light Parade at Banks Lake, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest on Steve Nichols radio 2020-12-08

We’re proud to announce that Steve Nichols has accepted our invitation to be the Master of Ceremonies at the Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Saturday evening, August 2021, at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, GA.
https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-08-21–songwriting/

He and I will talk about that on his radio show at 8:30 AM Tuesday, December 8, 2020, on 105.9 FM WVGA.

We’ll also discuss the WWALS Solstice Light Parade, Saturday, December 19, 2020, at Banks Lake, just west of Lakeland, GA.
https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-12-19–light-parade/

And how Georgia is all that stands between some strip miners from Alabama and the Okefenokee Swamp, and how you can help.
https://wwals.net/?p=54187

Suwannee Riverkeeper on Steve Nichols radio, 2020-10-06

WVGA FM says:

The top rated morning talk show in south Georgia, Steve Nichols offers both sides of every story from Berrien County to the Beltway, and everywhere in between.

When: 8:30 AM, Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Where: 105.9 FM WVGA

or the WVGA Live apps,
through ValdostaToday.com (link on front page),
on Alexa devices,
or you can stream in-studio video at the official Morning Drive Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/TheMorningDriveWithSteveNichols/ Continue reading

WWALS asks GA Gov. Kemp to stop strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2020-11-30

Everyone please ask Georgia to stop this strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

Here is what we wrote to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and staff.

[Mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, TIAA land, TPM land]
Mine site, Okefenokee Swamp, TIAA land, TPM land

Copies will go to GA-EPD, to selected Georgia state and national elected officials, and to all statewide candidates in the Georgia runoff elections.

The Letter

See also PDF.

November 30, 2020

To: Governor Brian Kemp

Cc: Trey Kilpatrick, Chief of Staff
Caylee Noggle, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations
Bert Brantley, Deputy Chief of Staff, External Affairs

Dear Governor Kemp and staff,

Thank you again for being the first governor to visit Hahira since Jimmy Carter; it was good to speak with you there. Last year you sent a staff delegate to the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) meeting. For the second year running, the Okefenokee Swamp is on GWC’s Dirty Dozen worst threats to Georgia waters, because of a threatened mine. https://wwals.net/?p=54109

Georgia is all that stands between a titanium strip mine within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp, proposed by coal miners from Alabama. Please direct the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to thoroughly examine the five state permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM). https://wwals.net/?p=54009 The evidence indicates DNR should reject those applications. At the least, an environmental review equivalent to an Environmental Impact Statement should be conducted.

Continue reading

Help Georgia stop titanium mine threatening Okefenokee Swamp –Dirty Dozen 2020, Georgia Water Coalition 2020-11-17

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, November 17, 2020 — Once again, the Okefenokee Swamp features in the Georgia Water Coalition Dirty Dozen, “the worst offenses to Georgia’s water.” The Swamp and the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers and the Floridan Aquifer are still threatened by a strip mine, but this time only Georgia can stop it, with your help.

[Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site]
Great Blue Heron, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, TPM mine site

Contact: This Okefenokee item was submitted by Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman (229-242-0102, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org) and Georgia River Network Executive Director Rena Ann Peck, (404-395-6250, rena@garivers.org).

They also recently observed the mine site that threatens our ecosystems and drinking water for private profit. [TPM mine site with ONWR on left]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, TPM mine site with ONWR on left

They met again that same weekend on the Suwannee River in the Okefenokee Swamp with forty paddlers, experiencing the fragile natural beauty that makes the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge a great economic benefit to both Georgia and Florida.

[Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07

The entire text of the Okefenokee Dirty Dozen item is below. Also below is how you can help.

This year’s Dirty Dozen report includes the following: Continue reading

Horrendous water quality at GA 133 & US 84 Wednesday, clean downstream 2020-11-12

Update 2020-11-16: Better now, Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-14.

We’ve never seen anything quite like this.

Valdosta got 137,600 cfu/100 mL E. coli for Wednesday at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River. That’s 137 times the Georgia Adopt-A-Stream alert limit of 1,000.

That’s far higher than the highest E. coli reading we’ve ever seen for the Withlacoochee River, which was the 39,000 Valdosta got on December 10, 2019, just after its infamous record spill. Which at least makes it unlikely that this contamination is coming from Valdosta.

Even the 85,600 Valdosta got for US 84 Wednesday is higher than that previous record at GA 133, and far above unprecedented for US 84. The previous US 84 record was 1,505 on April 1, after a big rain.

GA 133 is the same place Valdosta keeps finding very high E. coli and Fecal coliform, including 11,600 E. coli Friday a week ago. There has not been any rain. Which makes it very unlikely that this is runoff from farm animals.

[Horrendous upstream, clean downstream]
Horrendous upstream, clean downstream
Photos: Michael and Jacob Bachrach at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Yet Valdosta’s Wednesday downstream water quality results were all good, as were those by WWALS and Madison Health for Thursday.

According to the latest water quality results downstream of US 84, things look great for the Withlacoochee River this weekend. But I have to tell you I wouldn’t get in that water without more sampling.

I wish I could tell you what caused this, but so far I can only say a few things it’s not, and then speculate. Continue reading

Twin Pines Minerals permit applications to GA-EPD

Here are four of the five active permit applications to GA-EPD from Twin Pines Minerals related to the proposed titanium mine far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, and interchanges water with the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink. Apparently there is also an air quality permit application. Since the Army Corps has abdicated oversight of this mine, you can ask the Georgia government to reject these permits.

[Page 2]
Page 2
Figure 75: Proposed Project Aquatic Feature Impact Areas Map –Twin Pines Minerals

Here is the relevant passage from GA-EPD’s responses to my open records request. I have interleaved links to where the files for each application are on the WWALS google drive.

Here is a summary of the permit applications in the GA EPD Watershed Protection Branch: Continue reading

Videos: vote for clean water 2020-11-03

From four locations on the Withlacoochee River, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter urge you to go vote today for clean water.

[US 41, NSRR, US 84, Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River]
US 41, NSRR, US 84, Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River

At US 41 (North Valdosta Road), at the Norfolk Southern Railroad bridge just downstream from the notorious Sugar Creek, at US 84, downstream from GA 133 where Valdosta often sees high E. coli, and at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, downstream of Okapilco Creek with all those Brooks County dairy cows, we sampled for bacteria and DNA Friday.

Vote for people who will fully fund the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) so they can do some river sampling themselves, and watch over not only Valdosta, but also Quitman, Adel, Tifton, Rochelle, and Ashburn, all of which have spilled sewage into the Suwannee River Basin this year. Maybe then FDEP will be able to do its job, instead of trying to take more tasks from the Army Corps.

Vote for people who will protect the Okefenokee Swamp from strip mining and other threats.

Pick your most important water issue: https://wwals.net/blog/issues/. They could all use elected officials who will support clean water.

We’ve never met anyone who wants to drink dirty water. So please vote for clean water! Continue reading

Please vote for clean water and Yes on Georgia Amendment 1, 2020-11-03 2020-11-01

WWALS members already got our monthly Tannin Times newsletter via email. We’re posting this one, because its second page has many reasons to vote for clean water. Please vote for clean water on Election Day, if you have not already!

Georgians, don’t forget to vote Yes on Amendment 1.

[Tannin Times, WWALS monthly newsletter]
Tannin Times, WWALS monthly newsletter PDF

November 2020 Tannin Times

WWALS Biota November 2020: Remembering biota past

In both Mesoamerican indigenous cultures and European Christian traditions, late autumn is a time when the dead are remembered, as seen in the Dia de los Muertos in Mexico and All Souls Day in many other western countries. It seems fitting, then, as November comes in and autumn is felt across the coastal plain, that we consider biota past.

Continue reading

Water quality sampling and vote for clean water 2020-10-30

Please vote for clean water!

Vote for clean water

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and WWALS Science Committee Chair Dr. Tom Potter took a moment from water quality sampling at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River to make these videos to ask everyone to vote for clean water.

Vote for people who will fully fund the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division so they can do some river sampling themselves, and watch over not only Valdosta, but also Quitman, Adel, Tifton, Rochelle, and Ashburn, all of which have spilled sewage into the Suwannee River Basin this year.

Vote for people who will protect the Okefenokee Swamp from strip mining and other threats.

We could also mention Nestlé, phosphate mines, coal ash, and many other issues.

We’ve never met anyone who wants to drink dirty water. So please vote for clean water! Continue reading

What stinks worse than a titanium mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp? Biomass plants in north Georgia

Should we assume a titanium mine started by the same people would be any better than the stinking biomass plants they started? You can ask the Georgia government to stop the mine that would be far too close to the Okefenokee Swamp. And don’t forget to vote for people who support clean air and water!

The “clean” wood-burning biomass plants in north Georgia stink so bad a chicken CAFO operator says he can smell it. So bad people working at the plant get sick with masks on. So bad local people say they were betrayed and a local government is suing. So bad it’s caused a fish kill in a nearby creek. So bad investors are suing. So bad it’s behind in its taxes.

Photo: Franklin Locality, Problem: GRP Pollution
Photo: Franklin Locality, Problem: GRP Pollution

So bad local people say no amount of jobs is worth it. One asks, “did you have anybody investigate the two companies that run that plant; had they ever had EPD/EPA violations, had they ever been sued or had formal complaints brought against them”? Well, many people investigated Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, and found TPM is under a Florida Consent Order for multiple violations just across the GA-FL line.

Yet the Charlton County, Georgia, Board of Commissioners passed a resolution in favor of that titanium mine. Maybe they should review that decision in light of this track record of another project by the same people.

Maybe GA-EPD should take all this into account while considering TPM’s five permit applications. And then reject those applications.

You can help by asking them to do so.

And don’t forget to vote for people who will protect our waters and people.

Lee Shearer, Athens Banner-Herald, 12 September 2015, Alabama company plans wood-burning electricity plants near Athens,

The EPD’s Air Quality Branch earlier this summer approved one of the two pollution permit applications filed by GreenFuels Holding Company of Birmingham for a 79 megawatt plant near the Franklin County town of Carnesville.

The company filed its application for a 58 megawatt plant near Colbert about two weeks ago. State officials won’t begin to evaluate it for another couple of weeks, until a 30-day window has passed when the public can make formal comments, said Eric Cornwell, the Air Quality Branch’s program manager for stationary source permitting.

GreenFuels has a policy to not comment publicly to media, said GreenFuels vice president Steven Ingle.

Yes, the same Steven Ingle who is president of Twin Pines Minerals LLC that already has equipment on its mine site within a few miles of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge. But Ingle tells us that mine will be safe. Which is also what his biomass LLC told everybody.

Biomass has become the new coal, Continue reading

U.S. Army Corps abdicates at Okefenokee Swamp, but titanium miners still need Georgia permits 2020-10-19

Monday morning I heard from a mining source that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will soon announce that, due to federal rollback of the Waters of the U.S., the Corps no longer considers the streams next to the proposed mining site to be under Corps jurisdiction, even though they are far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Alligator
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, alligator in the Okefenokee Swamp

Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) lost no time announcing the next day that they intended to plow ahead. Molly Samuel, WABE, 20 October 2020, Proposed Mine Near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp Gets A Major Hurdle Removed.

But TPM admits they still need five Georgia permits. So let’s try to stop those.

As we’ve been saying for a long time, please write to state and federal regulators, to the Georgia governor and the Georgia DNR board, and to state and federal elected officials. See below for how.

Also, there’s an election going on. As an IRS 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit, WWALS can’t tell you what candidate or party to vote for. But we can ask you to vote for the environment.

If the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, is not protected, what is? If you live in south Georgia or north Florida, your drinking water probably comes from the Floridan Aquifer or groundwater above it, all of which can be adversely affected by strip mining or other pollution.

Please vote for the environment.

Georgians, don’t forget to vote for Amendment 1 while you’re voting.

Russ Bynum, Associated Press, 21 October 2020, Trump environmental rollback spurs mining near Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp.

The Army Corps reassessed certain wetlands at Twin Pines’ request after Trump’s new clean-water rules took effect in June. The agency confirmed Tuesday that, under the rules change, the tract would no longer require a federal permit.

“This property now has Continue reading