Tag Archives: Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

Pictures: Waterkeepers Florida, Santa Fe River and springs 2024-02-08

We saw many springs, divers, entrances to two big sinkholes (Little and Big Awesome Sucks), many turtles, some alligators, a wood stork, a cattle egret, a hawk, a great blue heron, and some buzzards, as well as many gar and other fish, more cypress knees than you can count, and one very old cypress tree, just below some less than scary shoals.

Perhaps most importantly, nobody was in a hurry to get anywhere. Everybody paddles leisurely, took in the sights, and socialized.

At one of our Friday morning Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) zoom calls, Jen Lomberk, the WKFL chair, asked Suwannee Riverkeeper to organize an outing while we would all be in Gainesville for an annual conference. The nearest Suwannee River Basin River is the Santa Fe, so I called on Doug Jipson of outfitter Rum 138 to shuttle us, and Merillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) to guide us. See also the pictures Merrillee sent.

[Waterkeepers Florida, Santa Fe River, Rum Island to FL 47 2024-02-08]
Waterkeepers Florida, Santa Fe River, Rum Island to FL 47 2024-02-08

Waterkeepers Florida consists of all 15 Waterkeepers of Florida,
https://www.waterkeepersflorida.org

Waterkeeper is the generic name that includes Riverkeepers, all licensed by Waterkeeper Alliance. Suwannee Riverkeeper and St. Marys Riverkeeper are Waterkeepers of both Florida and Georgia.

Eleven WKFL members showed up (some with more than one representative), which is about the usual percentage for the annual gathering. Some of them had never seen a blue spring before. We went to Gilchrist Blue Spring, Devil’s Eye Spring, Ginnie Spring, and numerous more, between Rum Island and FL 47 Ramp in Gilchrist County Santa Fe River Park.

Actually, we were going to put in at Rum Island County Park, but it was mysteriously closed that morning. So we put in at Merrilee’s private river access.

When we got to Rum Island, the work at the park was obvious: the incredibly ostentatious orange barrier at the swimming area.

Here are some video snippets:
https://youtu.be/8lzYtVt60ZU?si=Z6Ec8LaVkmM7XmlG Continue reading

Pictures: Santa Fe River and springs, Waterkeepers Florida –Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson 2024-02-08

Update 2024-02-17: Many more Pictures: Waterkeepers Florida, Santa River and springs 2024-02-08.

The fifteen Waterkeepers of Florida gathered on the Santa Fe River Thursday to see springs, parks, and submerged aquatic vegetation.

Well, eleven of them. And we also saw a wood stork, an anhinga, a hawk, buzzards, and many turtles.

[Banners, Springs, Santa Fe River, Waterkeepers Florida 2024-02-08]
Banners, Springs, Santa Fe River, Waterkeepers Florida 2024-02-08

No manatees, though, despite the best efforts of expert guide Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of the outfitter Rum138 and Our Santa Fe River (OSFR).

We were going to put in at Rum Island, but that county park was closed, it turns out to install the ostentatious swimming barrier you see pictured. So we put in at Merrillee’s house; thanks Merrillee.

We paddled into Gilchrist Blue Spring, Ginnie Springs, and many others.

Many more pictures later; these are some Merrillee sent.

As you can tell by the banner picture I took, WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper organized this outing.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

Continue reading

Hurricane Idalia damage in Suwannee County, FL 2023-09-21

There is little financial recourse for the extensive Hurricane Idalia damage to hoop houses, buildings, row crops, elevators, grain bins, irrigation systems, fences, and tree crops. Most of the insurers had already pulled out. FEMA will help with farmhouses, but not the rest. Many farmers will never recover.

[Collage, Suwannee County Agriculture Meeting 2023-09-21]
Collage, Suwannee County Agriculture Meeting 2023-09-21

County Administrator Gregg Scott noted that almost $900 million revenue that comes to the county because of agriculture, and $60 million of tax revenue “that goes through you”. 97% of Suwannee County farms are owned by local farmers; family farms are important.

Wesley Wainwright, owner of Wainwright Farms, explained much of the damage. Continue reading

PFAS forever chemicals are in everything –WUFT 2023-02-14

“This stuff is in everything,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman.

In the Withlacoochee River, in fish in the Alapaha River, maybe in your house. Georgia, Florida, and U.S. EPA should do something about it.

For what you can do, see:
https://wwals.net/issues/pfas/

[Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30]
Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30

Fernando Figueroa, WUFT, February 14, 2023, Community members speak up about new “forever chemicals” study

A new study by the Environmental Working Group, an activist group focused on research, revealed that eating a single freshwater fish is equal to drinking water with high PFAS levels for a month.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS or “forever chemicals,” are Continue reading

Phosphate and titanium mining, water withdrawals, and trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26

The North Central Florida Regional Planning Council had several public speakers cram topics into their three minutes each.

[Phosphate and Titanium Mines, and Trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26]
Phosphate and Titanium Mines, and Trash @ NCFRPC 2023-01-26

Two directly-affected women and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, a board member of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR), talked about the Cornerstone Crossings mega development on top of Clay Hole Creek and Cannon Creek confluence, a part of the Ichetucknee Trace, which is in the Southwest quadrant of I-75 and SR 47 Hwy interchange, due south of Lake City in Columbia County, Florida. Merillee wondered about the development’s water withdrawal permit, and how much PFAS it might unleash into the waterways and the underlying Floridan Aquifer. She displayed LiDAR maps she got from SRWMD that clearly show the Ichetucknee Trace. Continue reading

Keep tugging on the not-to-mine end of the Okefenokee rope –Dink Nesmith 2023-01-25

Yes, why not this? “Why not have a rural development strike force that can laser in on the Charlton counties of Georgia? With enough bright minds, willpower and sufficient investment, oxygen can be pumped into the gasping communities that are—for the most part—on life support.”

That would be way better than a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink.

Dink Nesmith, Georgia Recorder, January 25, 2023, Okefenokee tug-o-war is long way from over,

[Protest and Dragline]
Protest and Dragline

The opposing sides are not barefoot on Jekyll Island’s beach, but there’s a definite line drawn in the sand. Feet are dug in, and muscles are straining. On one side is an Alabama mining company and its fleet of high-powered lobbyists. Pulling the other way are millions of nature-loving Georgians who want to thwart Twin Pines Minerals from strip-mining near the Okefenokee Swamp.

This tug-o-war has been off and on for years. First it was Continue reading

The regulatory trap at SRWMD: 30 speakers, yet unanimous Nestle permit 2021-02-23

A textbook case: “We present our three-minute, passionate oration about the risk to community health, but in the end, nothing we say must be taken into account by the state in issuing the permit.” Common Sense: Community Rights Organizing, by CELDF; thanks to Karma Norjin Lhamo for the reminder.

[Mermaid, Suwannee Riverkeeper, OSFR, Regulatory Fallacy, Charles Keith, Attorneys, Motion to Permit, unanimous SRWMD Board]
Mermaid, Suwannee Riverkeeper, OSFR, Regulatory Fallacy, Charles Keith, Attorneys, Motion to Permit, unanimous SRWMD Board

About 30 speakers gave impassioned orations for denial, after which the Suwannee River Water Management District Board unanimously approved the Nestlé permit as fast as the roll could be called.

[SRWMD Board: Larry Thompson, Lower Suwannee Basin; Charles Keith, At Large; Virginia H. Johns, Chair, At Large; Virginia Sanchez, At Large; Charles Schwab, Coastal Rivers Basin; Harry Smith, At Large; Larry Sessions, Upper Suwannee Basin]
SRWMD Board: Larry Thompson, Lower Suwannee Basin; Charles Keith, At Large; Virginia H. Johns, Chair, At Large; Virginia Sanchez, At Large; Charles Schwab, Coastal Rivers Basin; Harry Smith, At Large; Larry Sessions, Upper Suwannee Basin. Notice nobody on the SRWMD Board representing the Santa Fe River Basin. Water taxation without representation.

As one prominent local activist said afterwards, “Two years out of my life I’ll never get back! I don’t know if I’ll ever come back here.”

Sure, voting in a governor who would appoint better WMD board members would help, and into the legislature, too. New legislators would help pass what is really needed: a Bill of Rights for Nature.

That is a way out of the Regulatory Fallacy Box. 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

WWALS Honored at Georgia DNR Confluence Conference as Volunteers of the Year 2020-08-29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, August 31, 2020 — WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman zoomed into the annual Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence conference on Saturday, August 29, 2020, so WWALS could receive the statewide Volunteer of the Year award while we were finishing the Twomile Branch Cleanup.

[Award and Cleanup]
Award and Cleanup

The award is for “Individual has gone beyond the call of duty to improve water quality and meet AAS goals.” We emphasized it was not just one volunteer, but many, in our one-minute award acceptance video. We also thanked Georgia Power again for a grant. We didn’t have time to mention we’re getting testing kits to WWALS testers in Florida, upcoming WWALS water quality testing training, and branching out to the Santa Fe River, but all that is in this post.

Testers shown in the video include Sara Jay, Scotti Jay, Suzy Hall, Alex Chesna, Bobby McKenzie, Jacob Bachrach, and Trudy Cole. Continue reading

Central Florida Water Initiative Rulemaking Workshop 2020-07-09

Whatever happens in this workshop will no doubt be used as a precedent later for rules affecting the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

[CFWI Workshop scheduled for July 9, 2020]
CFWI Workshop scheduled for July 9, 2020
PDF

The three water management districts not named in that announcement are Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

SRWMD is not among the three. But remember, SJRWMD and SRWMD in 2017 jointly approved a North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan back in 2017.

Text of the Notice

Continue reading