Tag Archives: north Florida

All clear, Withlacoochee River 2021-09-22

All WWALS test results for Wednesday were clean in Georgia and Florida, but Valdosta got bad results at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River.

Yet there has been no significant rain since Tuesday, so in the opposite of last time, I’m going to say that E. coli has probably washed downstream and gotten diluted by now.

Make your own decisions, but I would boat on the Withlacoochee River this weekend. And the Alapaha River yet again seems clean. The Little River, probably, according to the one site we tested.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide

Valdosta results for last Friday corroborate what I said last time: because of the heavy rains, it would not be a good idea to boat, swim, or fish in the Withlacoochee River last weekend.

Valdosta even got too high results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp for Monday, after heavy rains Sunday in Brooks County, presumably because of the usual cattle manure runoff down Okapilco Creek. Continue reading

Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, Clinch and Ware Counties, GA –The Conservation Fund 2021-06-22

Tipped off by a local member of the Board of the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA), I looked up this Suwannee River Headwaters Land and Water Protection project.

[Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, GA-EPD Determination, Suwannee River in Georgia]
Suwannee River Headwaters Forest, GA-EPD Determination, Suwannee River in Georgia

These acquisitions would protect most of both banks of the Suwannee River from the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge to Fargo, which is in turn more than a third of the Suwannee River proper in Georgia (below the East and Middle Forks to the GA-FL line). Continue reading

Flooding on the Suwannee River at Suwannee Springs –SRWMD 2021-09-23

Like me, you may be wondering what is going on at Suwannee Springs since I first reported on the debris there after the July 2020 flooding. In January 2021, the answer was SRWMD would finishing removing the debris “in a few weeks, not months.”

Unfortunately, then there was repeated flooding, and in between floods the COVID-19 pandemic interfered.

So yesterday I asked again, and today Edwin McCook took this picture:

[Flooding on the Suwannee River at Suwannee Springs on 9/23/2021. Suwannee; Springs gauge 53.86'. Photo: Edwin McCook, SRWMD]
Flooding on the Suwannee River at Suwannee Springs on 9/23/2021. Suwannee; Springs gauge 53.86′. Photo: Edwin McCook, SRWMD

As you can see, the river water is close to the top of the spring wall.

Edwin says once the water recedes, the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) will continue planning to remove the debris. They had already reviewed options back in January, so they have a leg up on that planning.

More when I know more.

Meanwhile, the Suwannee Springs USGS gauge reads 53.86′.

That’s well below flood stage, which is 60′. However, you can see by the picture that working inside the spring wall would be difficult with the water that high. Continue reading

Valdosta Stormwater cleanup at Sugar Creek 2021-09-17

Great relief was felt by the WWALS Sugar Creek cleanup crew, because Valdosta Stormwater has taken a hand at the Sugar Creek trashjam!

[Trashjam Quartet by Angela Bray]
Trashjam Quartet by Angela Bray

You are all invited to come help clean up Sugar Creek on Saturday, October 9, 2021, at this same location behind the Salty Snapper on Gornto Road.

Meanwhile, thanks to Valdosta Stormwater for not just cleaning up, but starting some repeated steps to find out when this trashjam forms and where it’s coming from.

This is the same trashjam that was pictured in Valdosta’s 2010 Stormwater Master Plan, as discussed with Mayor Scott James on his radio show, August 12, 2021.

Finally, on Friday, September 16, 2021, Valdosta Stormwater Division got hands-on and cleaned up themselves! Continue reading

Good water quality results, then hard rain, Withlacoochee River 2021-09-16

Update 2021-09-24: All clear, Withlacoochee River 2021-09-22.

All the water quality samples WWALS collected Wednesday and Thursday tested good for all three rivers: Little, Withlacoochee, and Alapaha.

However, later Thursday hard rains fell. As hard as those last Thursday that washed E. coli into the rivers. So there’s a good chance the same thing has already happened, with contamination from livestock manure washing into the rivers.

[Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Rivers, Swim Guide

So according to the results we have, I have to say all clear for boating, swimming, and fishing.

But according to experience, I’m not going on the Little or Withlacoochee Rivers this weekend.

FYI, no sewage spills have been reported. The contamination sources are most likely agricultural.

The Alapaha River is probably still good. And we have a paddle coming up Monday evening on Banks Lake, which is not downstream from anything, so it should be clean as usual. https://wwals.net/?p=56630 Continue reading

River and Creek Cleanup 2021-10-09

River and Creek Cleanup, WWALS, Lowndes County, Valdosta 2021-10-09 (PDF)

Hahira, GA, September 16, 2020 — WWALS has found some of the sources of the infamous trashjam on Sugar Creek, and at least one upstream property owner has made progress in stopping litter before it escapes. But there are other sources, and trash still collects back of the Salty Snapper.

Downstream on the Withlacoochee River, flood waters spread that trash all over the Land Between the Rivers at the Little River Confluence, where one day there will be a River Camp and a River Park. You are invited to join us at Troupville Boat Ramp to walk downstream and help clean up that property, too. Valdosta and Lowndes County also have cleanup locations that same day.

“If you are looking to help make a difference, these locations need the most help, 9AM, Saturday, October 9, 2021!” said WWALS member Bobby McKenzie, who has been on this trash case for a year now.

[Flyer]
Flyer

No boats necessary, although if you want to bring a boat, there are water cleanup opportunities. Please bring sturdy mud boots or shoes, long pants and clothes that can get wet or dirty, insect repellant, a refillable water bottle, and an emergency phone number. Trash bags and trash pickers will be provided, as well as drinking water and snacks, but bring your own if you can. Please maintain a physical distance of at least six feet from people not in your household. Please wear a mask when near people not in your household. We will have extra masks.

This event is part of the Georgia Rivers Alive cleanup program.

Also participating will be Current Problems from Gainesville, Florida.

Update 2021-09-17: facebook event.

Update 2021-09-20: meetup.

The WWALS locations are:

  • Salty Snapper (Sugar Creek)
    Address: Parking lot, Salty Snapper, 1405 Gornto Rd, Valdosta, GA 31602.
    GPS: 30.861809, -83.318841
  • Land Between the Rivers (Little and Withlacoochee Rivers) @ Troupville Boat Ramp
    Address: 19664 Valdosta Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31602, west of I-75 exit 18.
    GPS: 30.851842, -83.346536
    It will be hunting season. Please wear hunting orange. Do not cross the river. WWALS will have sign-in sheets that are also event waivers so our insurance will cover you.

The Valdosta Locations are:

Continue reading

More questions about strip mine near Okefenokee Swamp –GA-EPD to miners 2021-09-10

GA-EPD last Friday sent another request for clarifications to the miners about their proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

Meanwhile, you can ask GA-EPD to reject the five permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals for that strip mine, or at least to thoroughly study with independent review potential effects of that mine on the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, and the Floridan Aquifer.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter]
Rivers, Swamp and mine site, GA-EPD cover letter

Most of the new questions are about how bentonite clay will be used. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has actually been asking about that since December 5, 2019.

A question GA-EPD did not ask is what if the clay gets into waterways with fish? Bentonite in small particles can get into the gills of fish and suffocate them, and bentonite can also deplete oxygen: see Identification of Oxygen-Depleting Components in MX-80 Bentonite, Torbjörn Carlsson and Arto Muurine, Cambridge University Press, 01 February 2011.

GA-EPD also asked about water draining into the Floridan Aquifer or into rivers, or water moving in the other direction.

Exhibit I Modeling the GW Flow System Comments James L. Kennedy Ph.D., P.G.

Continue reading

Bad Little, Withlacoochee Rivers, good Alapaha River 2021-09-09

Update 2021-09-17: Good water quality results, then hard rain, Withlacoochee River 2021-09-16.

Like last week, but worse: the Alapaha River would be a better choice for boating, swimming, and fishing this weekend than either the Little or Withlacoochee Rivers.

[Chart, Awful Plates, Rivers, Swim Guide]
Chart, Awful Plates, Rivers, Swim Guide

Yes, Madison Health today lifted its Health Advisory for the Withlacoochee, because they got good results for Tuesday and Thursday. But WWALS has more recent upstream data, and it’s not pretty. Continue reading

Restore pre-2015 Waters of the U.S. –Waterkeeper Alliance to U.S. EPA 2021-09-03

Suwannee Riverkeeper signed on to this Waterkeeper Alliance request for EPA to protect both surface and groundwater.

It includes a mention of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) abdication of oversight over the proposed titanium strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.

[Restore WOTUS, mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, groundwater recharge]
Restore WOTUS, mine too near Okefenokee Swamp, groundwater recharge

That USACE decision was based on the EPA and USACE 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Rule (“NWPR”) redefining jurisdictional “Waters of the United States” (“WOTUS”) under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”). On August 30, a U.S. District Court vacated the NWPR. On September 3, Waterkeeper Alliance these lengthy comments on EPA’s WOTUS rulemaking.

Also on September 3, EPA announced that EPA and USACE have halted implementation of NWPR and will be applying the pre-2015 WOTUS definition, which was one of Waterkeeper letter’s requests.

Meanwhile, you can ask the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) to reject the five permit applications from Twin Pines Minerals for that strip mine, or at least to thoroughly study with independent review potential effects of that mine on the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River, and the Floridan Aquifer.
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07]
Great Blue Heron flying, Suwannee River, Okefenokee Swamp, 2019-12-07

Update 2021-09-11: This is what the Waterkeeper Alliance letter says about the Okefenokee Swamp and the threatening strip mine:

Additionally, Alabama-based mining company Twin Pines has proposed a heavy mineral sand strip mine between the St. Mary’s River and Okefenokee Swamp, one of the largest and most celebrated wetlands in the country, and home to both a National Wildlife Refuge and a National Wilderness Area.140 The proposed mine would be 50-feet deep on average and would destroy hundreds of acres of wetlands and streams that are critical to the St. Marys River and Okefenokee’s diverse ecosystems, threatening the hydrology of the swamp. Recently, the Corps determined that nearly 400 acres of previously jurisdictional wetlands near the Refuge are now unprotected by the Clean Water Act, allowing the mining company to begin mining without any involvement by the agency.141 For reasons that are unclear, the Corps did not discuss the streams at the site, which appear to be, but not are not being treated as, jurisdictional waters under the CWA.142 This decision has important implications for the initial part of the mine as well as the longer-term expansion of the mine to more than 8,000 acres near the Refuge.

140 St. Marys Riverkeeper and Suwannee Riverkeeper work to protect waters that are impacted by this decision.

141 Corps Approved Jurisdictional Determination, ORM Number: SAS-2018-00554 (Oct. 14, 2020) (Attachment 11).

142 National Wetlands Inventory Map of the Twin Pines Mine Site Area, available at: https://www fws.gov/wetlands/data/Mapper html (Attachment 12).

[Multiple Streams and Wetlands, including Wetlands Intersecting Streams]
Multiple Streams and Wetlands, including Wetlands Intersecting Streams
PDF

The entire Waterkeeper comment letter is on the WWALS website, along with its exhibits: Continue reading

First Prize, Sweet William Billy Ennis, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest –VDT 2021-08-23

Below there is WWALS video of the winning song, described by Amanda M. Usher, Valdosta Daily Times, August 23, 2021, By the Riverside: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest winners revealed,

VALDOSTA — Sweet William Billy Ennis of Palatka, Fla., is the first-prize winner of the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

[First Prize Winner Sweet William Billy Ennis]
First Prize Winner Sweet William Billy Ennis.
Top: receiving the prize from Judge J.J. Rolle, introduced again by M.C. “Big Country” Wes James WAAC FM to play again.
Bottom: Sweet William Billy Ennis and his band playing his winning song, “Flat Bottom Boats.”
Photos: Angela Duncan for WWALS.

The annual competition was sponsored by WWALS and took place Saturday Continue reading