Tag Archives: Georgia

Valdosta: Catch Basin finished

Valdosta has completed the long-awaited catch basin at the entrance to the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). That won’t stop spills that happen elsewhere, such as the big one in December 2019, but it might have stopped 2/3 of the December 2018 sewage spill gallons. And Valdosta’s press release also emphasizes further fixes elsewhere.

Valdosta WWTP Catch Basin

First proposed December 6, 2018, by by City Council Tim Carroll, just as Valdosta had its third major sewage spill episode of 2018, including eighteen locations, followed by five more on December 14 and 15. Only three of those spills came from the WWTP, but those three did account for most of the gallons spilled. However, the record December 2019 spill did not come from the WWTP at all.

Valdosta got a permit for the catch basin from GA-EPD in December 2019, before it was required to dig it in a new GA-EPD Consent Order. Valdosta held a groundbreaking July 21, 2020.

Now the catch basin is finished, after only a year and a half. It should decrease the likelihood of spills from the WWTP. December is the traditional Valdosta sewage spill season, and so far there have been none. Meanwhile, sanitary sewer work continues elsewhere in Valdosta.

Valdosta PR, November 19, 2020, Equalization Basin at Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Completed, Continue reading

Sulak’s Defeat at Jennings Defeat 2020-08-26

Explorer Dr. Ken Sulak has solved an Alapaha River rapids naming mystery. He recounts:


So in 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote a poem inspired by a dream.

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

Insert three ‘A” and the dreamscape river becomes the Alapaha, and appropriately so. Yesterday, I embarked on the foolish idea of a solo kayak journey up 3 miles of the Alapaha from Sasser Landing (just below the confluence of the Alapaha and the Alapahoochee rivers) to the site of the 1800s Roebucks Ferry and later Roebucks Bridge.

[Jennings Defeat Rapids, Ogeechee Gum, GS&F RR trestle below CR 150]
Jennings Defeat Rapids, Ogeechee Gum, GS&F RR trestle below CR 150

That crossing brought settlers and other travelers from Jacksonville and Fernandina along the GA/FL border across the Alapaha to Miccotown, the old Seminole Indian town in the triangle of land protected by the two flanking rivers. The road/trail (gone now on both sides) continued west across the Alapahoochee at the site of the early 1900s Beatty Bridge (undoubtedly preceded in the mid-1800s by an undocumented ferry), and on to Hickstown in Madison County and westward. Miccotown became the first county seat of Hamilton County as the settlers suppressed the Seminoles and the old Indian town faded into obscurity in 1839. Continue reading

Langdale Park open and upgraded –Bobby McKenzie 2020-11-29

Bobby McKenzie says:

I drove by Langdale Park yesterday and it was open.

[Driveway, pavillion, streetlight, logjam, sandbar (rotated)]
Driveway, pavillion, streetlight, logjam, sandbar (rotated)

VLPRA did a great job cleaning up the road back there. There wasn’t a single rut to be seen, all filled in nice and smooth the whole way. Continue reading

Flood Inundation Mapper (FIM) 2019-10-21

Valdosta and Lowndes County spent some money for LiDAR to map flooding extents at various Withlacoochee River water levels. The result is in the USGS Flood Inundation Mapper.

The map starts just below the Skipper Bridge Gauge on the new Skipper Bridge, down to the GA 133 Withlacoochee River Bridge. Too bad they didn’t go about a thousand river feet farther down to the Little River Confluence.

Here are some screenshots at various levels.

[10.7feet]
10.7feet

Click on any small picture to see a larger one. Continue reading

Youngs Mill Creek Landing and Ray City Landing, GA 37, Withlacoochee River 2018-02-18

Stew, Sam, and Dave from south Florida brought fast kayaks to the most upstream put-in on the Withlacoochee River. It was a tad twistier and deadfalled than they expected, but after making only seven miles the first day, they sped up all the way to the Suwannee River.

[Boats, Leak, Paddlers, River, Yellow Jessamine]
Boats, Leak, Paddlers, River, Yellow Jessamine

Continue reading

Floyd’s Island, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River 2020-11-07

A little rain didn’t stop us on a fun two nights of camping and two days of paddling to and from Floyd’s Island in the Okefenokee NWR. Yes, the dozen of us saw gators, cormorants, and herons on the Suwannee River, the tree canopy over the run to Floyd’s Island, and deer on the island.

Thanks to Bobby McKenzie for leading this expedition, and to Shirley Kokidko for provoking it.

[banners, river, gator, canopy, island, deer]
banners, river, gator, canopy, island, deer

Also we saw Georgia River Network’s thirty paddlers coming in Sunday as we were going out, but my camera had run down by then. Here’s a picture of GRN E.D. Rena Ann Peck on the Friday before, in Moniac, GA.

Here are more pictures, also on the WWALS website.

Many paddlers posted pictures on facebook. Continue reading

Victory on Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1, and more voting for clean water

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.

[Victory: 82%]
Victory: 82%
Special thanks to the Suwannee River Basin cities of Adel, Hahira, and Valdosta, Atkinson, Lanier, and Lowndes Counties, for passing resolutions in support.
See also previous blog post.

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.

More voting for clean water to do

As everyone probably knows, there are Georgia runoff elections on January 5, 2021, with the usual early voting and absentee ballots. Both Georgia U.S. Senate seats are in the runoff.

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

Better now, Withlacoochee River water quality 2020-11-14

Update 2020-11-20: Good since Thursday, Withlacoochee River Water Quality 2020-11-17

Whatever that was Wednesday at GA 133 and US 84, it did not reappear on Valdosta’s Friday results at the same locations, nor in the WWALS results upstream and down for Saturday on the Withlacoochee and Little Rivers.

[Maps, Chart]
Maps, Chart

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for publishing the updated Valdosta upstream Friday results on a Saturday afternoon. She says the City of Valdosta has not had any spills. And according to Valdosta Assistant City Manager Richard Hardy, the city goverment is well aware of the problem and is working on ways to find the culprits. I have left a message with Lowndes County Utilities. I am also talking to law enforcement. A letter will go to GA-EPD today.

[Better now]
Better now
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida water quality, see
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Thanks to WWALS testers Jacob and Michael Bachrach for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps. Thanks to WWALS testers Angela and Josh Duncan for testing at US 41 and Troupville Boat Ramp. The point of that last one, on the Little River, is as a control: since Troupville Boat Ramp is about 2,000 feet upstream of the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, it should be clean.

And it was. But so were all the other test locations. So whatever it was either moved so fast downstream it was below FL 6 when Madison Health tested Thursday, or it was small although toxic, and got diluted pretty quickly.

The chronic problem test station at the GA 133 Withlacoochee River bridge is highlighted Continue reading

Troupville to Spook Bridge, Mayor’s Paddle, Withlacoochee River 2021-02-06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, November 12, 2020 — Join the Mayor of Valdosta and a hundred of his closest friends for a leisurely paddle on the Withlacoochee River. Mayor Scott James says, “Over a year removed from a terrible spill into our area waterways, and right at a year of massive improvements to our infrastructure since our last ‘Mayors Paddle,’ I am again looking forward to fellowship on the river February 6.”

All elected officials present will have three minutes to speak. And you can paddle up to them and ask questions.

WWALS President Tom H. Johnson Jr. said, “This stretch of river extends from the most populous city in the Suwannee River Basin past some suburbs and many rural woods. It is important for all the upstream city and county wastewater treatment plants to keep a grip on their sewage, because many people depend on the Withlacoochee River for swimming, fishing, and boating, plus water wells nearby may be affected by anything that goes into the river. It’s a joy that publicly elected officials are involved in this activity, and that the Mayor is helping organize it.”

It was fun last year, so let’s do it again! There is plenty of room to stay six feet apart, at Troupville Boat Ramp, the lunch stop, and at Spook Bridge, and of course on the water. We are still working out how the shuttle will work.

Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman said, “Thanks again to The Langdale Company for riverside access at the mid-way lunch stop, and at the Spook Bridge takeout.”

[Pictures from last year]
Pictures from last year, 2020-01-18.

Attractions include Valdosta’s famous Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) Outfall, which has not spilled since December 2019. Yes, we know some people in the Valdosta city government consider that not a spill, since the raw sewage never actually got into the WWTP. We hope Valdosta’s new catch basin prevents that. Most of the route is downstream from GA 133, where Valdosta has frequently gotten high E. coli results from nobody yet knows what source. The entire route is upstream of Okapilco Creek, which sometimes carries cattle manure runoff after big rains. We will once again test the water quality from the river.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 4 PM, Saturday, February 6, 2021

Put In: Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602: on GA 133 off I-75 exit 18. in Lowndes County.

GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536

Take Out: Spook Bridge, west from Valdosta on US 84, left onto Ousley Road, right onto Old Quitman Highway, stop at the gate.
Thanks to The Langdale Company for access through their private property to Spook Bridge for this outing and for water quality testing.

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.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net/donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Troupville Boat Ramp (upper right) to Spook Bridge (lower left)]
Troupville Boat Ramp (upper right) to Spook Bridge (lower left) in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

Continue reading

Odd water quality upstream, Withlacoochee River 2020-11-04

Update 2020-11-07: Horrid quality at GA 133 Friday, but good downstream and Saturday 2020-11-07

We don’t know what that contamination was upstream Wednesday on the Withlacoochee River at US 41 and GA 133. Rain didn’t cause it, because there was no rain.

We do know it was not the Tuesday Tifton spill, because that was into the Little River, which joins the Withlacoochee River downstream of GA 133.

We can speculate that whatever it was should be reaching the state line about now, or at least Knights Ferry. But we don’t know, because we have no downstream data: neither Valdosta nor Madison Health have reported anything below US 84 since last week, and our usual Thursday testers are out of commission this week.

[Chart and Map]
Chart and Map

So it’s hard to say what Withlacoochee River conditions might be right now.

[What's that?]
What’s that?
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results, see
https://wwals.net/issues/testing/

Maybe FDEP will report Withlacoochee River results in the morning.

Meanwhile, we did get good news for the Alapaha River Sunday, November 1, 2020, from WWALS tester Renee Kirkland: good quality at Sheboggy (US 82) and Statenville.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!