We thanked the Atkinson County Commission for this letter, and later got a copy of it. The letter probably helped with GA-EPD deciding to redesignate Recreational an upper segment of the Alapaha River Water Trail, one containing Willacoochee Landing in Atkinson County. More redesignations are possible later. There’s a GA-EPD Update Meeting next week.Continue reading
A local and Georgia state institution since 1960, the Georgia Sheriffs’ Boys Ranch on GA 122 east of Hahira and just east of the Withlacoochee River has a wastewater treatment pond, which has never reported a spill.
According to GA-EPD, it has sufficient capacity that it probably never will.
Nonetheless, Monday I went to look at that pond of NPDES Permit No. GA0047228. Thanks to the front office (she did not say her name) for asking the maintenance man (I think she said his name was Mike) to show me the pond. Continue reading
Update 2021-04-07: GA-EPD GORA response about Ray City wastewater permit violations 2021-04-05.
The bad news: Ray City, Georgia, had not one, but two wastewater spills this year. The good news: they were both mostly treated effluent, and Fecal coliform levels were well within limits.
Why was it a spill, then? It exceeded limits of total suspended solids (TSS).
How did we find out about this? Informants (who shall remain nameless unless I confirm they want to be named) told us that Ray City Council minutes for January and February mentioned water quality tests being within GA-EPD limits, but did not say why this was relevant. But this appeared in the Berrien Press on March 24, 2021: Continue reading
This fact sheet from a month ago says the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) will hold “a public meeting” and “Comments will also be accepted at TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov. It’s not clear what they will do with comments if you go ahead and send them to that address. Since any such correspondence would be public record, retrievable via open records request, it would be odd if GA-EPD did not consider those comments in their permit review process.
Checking with GA-EPD this morning, the public hearing is not expected to be scheduled for several months yet, because they’re still waiting for documents that the miners did not previously supply. Plus they are communicating with the Army Corps about documents the Corps received before abdicating responsibility. Apparently the GA-EPD Land Division is taking the lead, perhaps because this is a mining project, near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River.
It’s good GA-EPD is being thorough, although this last paragraph casts some doubt on that: “ Any additional mining operations not included in the demonstration area will be considered new and unique and will require a new set of permits and a full permitting process.”
Sure and if that happens the miners will claim they have sunk costs and they’ll sue if they don’t get further permits. So expansion should be considered along with the original permit applications. And it’s much better to nip this whole thing in the bud.
Here are four of the five permit applications to GA-EPD from Twin Pines Minerals, LLC:
Since GA-EPD has confirmed they did actually receive an Air Quality permit application, I guess it’s time for me to request that one again.
DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES
Environmental Protection Division
Twin Pines Minerals, LLC
Permitting Fact Sheet
Twin Pines Minerals, LLC has submitted environmental permit applications to the Environmental Protection Division (Division) proposing a demonstration project for mining heavy minerals sands near St. George, Charlton County, Georgia. The northern boundary of the site is located approximately 2.9 miles southeast from the nearest boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.
How many permit applications have been submitted?
Twin Pines Minerals, LLC has applied for environmental permits from all branches of the Environmental Protection Division (Division). These permits are the same as those that may be required for any surface mine: NPDES Industrial Stormwater, NPDES Industrial Wastewater, Groundwater Withdrawal, Air Quality, and Surface Mining Permit. The Division is early in the process of conducting a thorough review of each of the applications received.
How will the Division ensure the Okefenokee is being protected?
The Surface Mining Land Use Plan (MLUP) will require an addendum detailing the environmental provisions for protection of the environment and resources of the State. Once this environmental provision addendum is received, the Division will conduct an initial review and ensure it is complete and adequate, with a focus on how the project’s proximity to the National Wildlife Refuge may impact the area’s groundwater hydrology.
Will public be able to provide comments?
Yes. After the Division has reviewed the MLUP and the environmental provisions addendum, a public meeting will be held to receive comments on these documents and to provide an update on the permitting process. Comments will also be accepted at TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov. We will then consider all public comments and request the applicant make any necessary changes to address those comments. Please note, the Division may be unable to respond individually to each comment received. However, we will post a collective response to comments on our website after the official comment period closes.
Once the MLUP and the environmental provisions addendum are finalized, the Division will proceed with the draft permit process, including a public notice and comment period on the Surface Mining permit as well as any additional public comment periods required for the other permits. These permits are for the proposed 740-acre demonstration mining area.
Will the mine be able to expand after it is permitted?
Any additional mining operations not included in the demonstration area will be considered new and unique and will require a new set of permits and a full permitting process.
February 8, 2021
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
This public hearing for a wastewater permit far away from the Suwannee River Basin is of interest because apparently the instigator of this biomass plant is also the president of Twin Pines Minerals, which wants to strip mine for titanium far too near the Okefenokee Swamp.
When: 7 PM, Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Notice of Application for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit to Discharge Treated Wastewater Into Waters of the State of Georgia.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has received a new NPDES permit application for the issuance of a new NPDES permit. Having reviewed such application, the Environmental Protection Division proposes to issue for a maximum term of five years the following permit subject to specific pollutant limitations and special conditions:
GRP Madison Renewable Energy Facility, LLC, P.O. Box 909, Colbert, Georgia 30628, NPDES Permit No. GA0050283, for its steam electric facility located at 268 Office Drive, Colbert, Georgia 30628. A maximum of 3.55 MGD treated boiler blowdown, boiler feedwater, boiler area drains, reverse osmosis reject water, STG sump area drains, cooling tower blowdown, and stormwater is discharged to an unnamed tributary to Beaverdam Creek in the Savannah River Basin.
EPD will host a public hearing via Zoom software at 7:00 p.m. on March 2, 2021. Zoom is a free web conferencing platform that also allows participation by phone. In accordance with EPD’s safety precautions regarding the COVID-19 virus, EPD encourages members of the public to participate in the public hearing via Zoom. The purpose of the public hearing is to receive comments on the draft NPDES permit for GRP Madison Renewable Energy Facility, LLC.
To log into the public hearing on your computer, please click this link or copy and paste it into your browser to join the meeting: https://gaepd.zoom.us/j/96881364173
To ensure that you are ready to participate when the meeting begins, we recommend that you download Zoom in advance. Zoom can be found here: https://zoom.us/
To dial in by phone, please call this number: 1-470-381-2552
The meeting ID is 968 8136 4173
The passcode is 572750
Please note that if you choose to participate by phone, your number may be visible to other meeting attendees.
The public hearing is a formal process to Continue reading
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.
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
How is the mysterious Vickers Branch south of Hahira related to the Hahira Land Application Site? What is that creek the rest of that LAS is on? And what does all this have to do with Lowndes County’s new IMPAIRED WATERS MONITORING AND IMPLEMENTATION PLAN? Why do we care about all this for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail?
About six weeks ago, the bridge on Old US 41 North just south of Hahira broke and Lowndes County fixed it. Revealing that nobody knew a name for it. Except Phillip Williams, who says, “Some maps show it as Vickers Branch. The Vickers family were the ones who owned most of the land in the area back in the 1800s.”
The Vickers Branch Bridge marker south of Hahira looks slightly too far south, but it’s where google street view and aerials show the bridge. It seems that the USGS stream trace I used in this map is not quite right.
Upstream of that Vickers Branch US 41 bridge, several branches or runs that drain quite an area. I have named them after Continue reading
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, still from WWALS Video, Madison, Florida, of Carol L. Kemker, Director, Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, and others.
In Georgia, the Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has authority for establishing procedures for how permitted utilities are to respond during a major spill event. The EPA has delegated permitting authority to the state under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Program (NPDES). However, the EPA does maintain a state oversight role. After the sewage spill into the Withlacoochee, the EPA reached out to EPD to ensure the spill’s cause was properly addressed and notification procedures were followed. The EPA continues to work with EPD to reduce the possibility of future spills from Valdosta into the Withlacoochee River.
No detail was included in the EPA Region 4 letter to WWALS as to how the spill’s cause was to be addressed, or why notification procedures were the only other topic worth mentioning. EPA Region 4’s response says nothing about water quality testing, tracking procedures, alternative water supply, water well testing cost reimbursement, wildlife on land and water, underground plumes of contamination, or an educational campaign; all topics listed in the WWALS letter to which EPA is replying.
Apparently it took a week for the email I forwarded to EPA Region 4 on December 17th to get there on December 23, 2019. Then it took another month for EPA to send a paper reply letter in fancy packaging.
EPA also recommended: Continue reading
Thanks to Lewis Hays, Watershed Compliance Program, GA-EPD, for the tip.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
Update 2019-01-22: Yes, that’s the same day as the 4PM meeting in Lake City, Florida of the Task Force of the downstream counties. Since each county only has one Task Force delegate, maybe they can send other people to the Valdosta City Council meeting. Or, if Valdosta is too far for you, maybe you’d like to go to Lake City Thursday.
WWALS Watershed Coalition board member Eileen Box invited downstream counties and residents to come speak to the Valdosta City Council this Thursday. Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman added, “Every Valdosta City Council agenda has Citizens to be Heard. They’re tired of hearing from me about sewage spills. Maybe if some of the affected parties downstream spoke to them directly they would notice. Come on up and give it a try!“
Photo: Jamie Wachter, Suwannee Democrat, Youtube video, 2019-01-14.
Jamie Wachter, Suwannee Democrat, January 16, 2019, ‘IT’S A SHAME’ Residents, officials share wastewater spill concerns with legislative delegation,
[Eileen] Box, who is a board member of the Suwannee Riverkeeper, said North Florida residents may need to expand the reach of their complaints. She said those concerns need to be directed at the people who can do something about it — the Valdosta City Council.
“If they start hearing from Suwannee County and Hamilton and Madison and all these counties that are affected, when you come and talk, it does have an effect, she said. That may be one little thing that we can do.”
The next Valdosta City Council meeting is this Thursday:
When: 5:30 PM, Thursday, January 24, 2019
Council Chambers, 2nd Floor
Valdosta City Hall
216 East Central Avenue, Valdosta, GA 31601