Tag Archives: mayor

Pictures: Langdale Park Withlacoochee River logjam, Sugar Creek, Salty Snapper 2021-05-15

In which the Mayor of Valdosta does work. I lent him my Sawzall and he sawed off a deadfall.

[Boats, Withlacoochee River, Deadfalls, Sugar Creek, Salty Snapper]
Boats, Withlacoochee River, Deadfalls, Sugar Creek, Salty Snapper

Many kinds of boats started out at Langdale Park Boat Ramp. Continue reading

Sugar Creek Trash in 2010 Valdosta Stormwater Master Plan: Suwannee Riverkeeper and Mayor Scott James 2021-08-12

“If you see it, it’ll break your heart. In a deadfall it all gathers,” Valdosta Mayor Scott James said to me on his radio show about trash in Sugar Creek, just above the Withlacoochee River, where it washes downstream into Florida and the Suwannee River, onwards to the Gulf. We discussed how the problem has been documented by the City of Valdosta since 2010, and some inexpensive solutions.

[Radio 2021, Plan 2010]
Radio 2021, Plan 2010

Here is video I took for WWALS of that August 12, 2021, radio show. Continue reading

Valdosta Mayor supports Recreational redesignation of rivers 2021-06-30

Maybe this letter will help GA-EPD to upgrade our waterways from Fishing to Recreational for tighter standards on contaminants.

[Water Trails, Mayor's Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp]
Water Trails, Mayor’s Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp
PDF

Letter, Valdosta Mayor to GA-EPD

Continue reading

Videos: Vote on wood pellet farm –Adel City Council 2020-09-21

The Adel, Georgia, City Council passed the two ordinances for the wood pellet plant with no discussion, yet with some votes against, and protestors outside and inside, on September 21, 2020. There are still things you can do to stop this polluting project that would export our trees from throughout the Suwannee River Basin and beyond, to Europe to burn, producing yet more CO2.

[Protesters outside and in, and the Adel City Council split vote for the wood pellet plant]
Protesters outside and in, and the Adel City Council split vote for the wood pellet plant

Below are links to each LAKE video of those agenda items, with a few notes.

See also Vicki Weeks, Dogwood Alliance, 16 October 2020, Industrial Logging and the Wood Pellet Industry Hurt Us All.

And Dogwood Alliance’s petition to call on Georgia leaders to protect our forests.
https://www.dogwoodalliance.org/actions/stop-the-destruction-of-georgia-forests/

You can also ask GA-EPD to reject the air permit application. Probably more on that later.

For background, see: Continue reading

Adel, GA, resolution, Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail 2018-01-16

Thanks again to the City of Adel for Resolution #18-02 that they passed on January 16, 2018, in support of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.

[Resolution and WLRWT Sign]
Resolution and WLRWT Sign

Also in the big image above you see a new sign for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. More on that, later.

For now, note that the sign has the new City of Adel logo on it. That logo and the signed resolution are courtesy of City Clerk Rhonda P. Rowe.

Resolution

The text of the resolution we published at the time.

Here is a signed and executed copy. Continue reading

Wood pellet plant: speakers and documents @ Adel City Council 2020-09-08

Update 2020-09-11: fixed document and map links and added form for comments.

The Adel City Council had no questions after their Public Hearing on annexation and rezoning for a wood pellet plant, Tuesday, September 9, 2020, after thirty minutes of speakers for and against.

That was just the first reading. The second reading will be 5:30 PM, Monday, September 21, 2020, at Adel City Hall.

[Maps and speakers, wood pellet plant, Adel City Council 2020-09-08]
Maps and speakers, wood pellet plant, Adel City Council 2020-09-08

After the meeting I asked the City Manager, the City Clerk, and a couple of City Council members what maps and plans they had looked at. They all said they hadn’t seen any, and maybe I should talk to Economic Development. So I asked her, and she didn’t seem to indicate she’d seen any.

Yet there are maps and plans in the air permit application to GA-EPD, and others reviewed by the Planning Commission, which, as the City Manager pointed out during the meeting, issued a Public Notice of its public hearing on July 6, 2020. I don’t know why these state and county agencies have not published these documents, nor why the City of Adel has not. But those are public documents, so here they are (see Air Quality Permit maps and Planning Commission maps).

Below are videos by Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange (LAKE) of the pellet plant part of the Adel City Council meeting. See also the agenda and the WWALS letter to the Adel City Council. See also some helpful documents by the Dogwood Alliance

And this handy Dogwood Alliance form to send a comment to the Adel City Counci l.

By the way, this kind of work does take time and effort, so feel free to contribute to WWALS. . Continue reading

Send your comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order –Albany Herald

In the Albany Herald, May 9, 2020, Deadline set to comment on Valdosta EPD Enforcement Order,

The Enforcement Order includes a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Fla., who was among the WWALS members who met with the city of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The rest of the article is from the WWALS press release.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

This is not the kind of black water we want:

[Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River.]
Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River. By Tim Bonvechio.

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order Continue reading

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

Hahira, GA, May 4, 2020 — May 27th is the deadline to comment on the Enforcement Order the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) finally issued on Valdosta for sewage spills. For decades, Valdosta has spilled wastewater into the Withlacoochee River. People downstream, even on the Suwannee River all the way to the Gulf, worry about fishing, swimming, or even boating and some even say their wells are contaminated by fecal bacteria from these spills. Many had hoped that Valdosta’s big spills were over in 2016 with the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant uphill out of the flood plain, plus a Force Main with two Pump Stations. Valdosta says it has spent about $80 million on water system improvements. Yet the spills continued. The Order also reveals a massive fish kill.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

“The December 2019 spill was the biggest yet, with no rain, and nothing actually broke. It was a massive failure of supervision,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Citizens and elected and appointed officials in Georgia and a dozen counties in Florida demanded something be done.”

This Enforcement Order includes the most popular request, a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Florida, who was among the WWALS members who met with the City of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. She added, “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The Order addresses much (but not all) of what Suwannee Riverkeeper asked GA-EPD to do: https://wwals.net/?p=50979 For example, it requires the City to test water quality all the way down to the state line. One thing it does not include is any requirements for reimbursing downstream well and river testing expenses.

“It’s good to see that the EPD is FINALLY taking this issue seriously!” said Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair. “I can’t help but feel WWALS’ diligence in testing has been a big part of this action, and must continue regardless of any order for the City to conduct testing.”

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
https://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order will finally get the City’s attention,” said Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair and taxpayer of the City of Valdosta.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
WWALS Watershed Coalition
850-290-2350, 229-242-0102
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

===

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13

Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.

Much of what many people requested is in this Enforcement Order EPD-WP-8904 of the Public Notice of April 27, 2020.

[Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.]
Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.

Perhaps the most popular request, a fine, is included. As a Project In-Lieu of Penalty (PIP) stream testing is required, three times a week, down to the state line. Plus: “The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.”

All 250 sewer line creek crossings must be inspected by drone crews.

Valdosta must notify many Florida agencies, plus in Georgia Lowndes Health and Brooks EMA.

Other things are missing. WWALS is not on that notification list, for example.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

And the Order reveals some Valdosta violations the public never knew about, such as a massive fish kill in December 2019. The cost of that calculated by GA-DNR Wildlife Division seems inadequate, since it doesn’t take into account people being unwilling to fish on the Withlacoochee River, for example.

If you think there should be more or changed requirements, the Public Comment period ends May 27, 2020.

Send comments to: Continue reading

Repurpose toll road funds for virus relief

Update 2020-04-16: Videos: No Build: Fire and Traffic at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11.

Here’s an idea from WWALS member Janet Mikulski Messcher.

To: Governor Ron DeSantis
GovernorRon.Desantis@eog.myflorida.com
800-342-3557

Dear Governor DeSantis,

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please seek ways to shift funding from unnecessary and destructive projects to those that support our current public and community health needs. In particular, the M-CORES legislation, passed in the 2019 session, includes money for the task force process and for construction of three destructive tollroads. There is significant public opposition to these roads which have not been proven to be necessary nor economically viable. Attention should be focused on supporting our public health, including additional testing and research to support development of a vaccine.

If the Legislature returns to Tallahassee for a special session to address the budget in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that the House and Senate budget leaders consider diverting the $135 million (FY 2019/20 and FY 2020/21) earmarked from the M-CORES tollroads to go to pandemic response efforts and other community health priorities.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]

Please share this post and send in your letters. Feel free to copy your M-CORES Task Force members.

Photo: Bill Galvano, President, Florida Senate, Twitter, 17 May 2019.
Photo: Bill Galvano, President, Florida Senate, Twitter, 17 May 2019.

Here are more videos from the Madison County meeting of February 11, 2020, continuing the series that I started yesterday. I do not know whether these speakers support repurposing the funds as above, but Florida Conservation Voters was among the 90 organizations that asked Gov. DeSantis to veto the toll roads bill, as part of the No Toll Roads to Ruin coalition.

Lindsay Cross of Florida Conservation Voters asked the M-CORES Task Force to consider community vision instead of the toll road vision foisted on all of us by a few people in Tallahassee.

The Mayor of Monticello, Troy Avera, had been trying to sit on the fence, but he really doesn’t like a bypass, which would starve his city.