Tag Archives: Santa Fe River

Detail of Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA * 8, Starke, FL * 6, 2021-07-08

Update 2021-07-09: Bad Elsa aftermath, water quality, Withlacoochee River 2021-07-08.

The Valdosta spills actually add up to 90,300 gallons of raw sewage from seven locations, mostly in the Withlacoochee River Basin, but one into the Alapaha River Basin. Or more spills, since we have a report of one more that the city limed but did not include in its list of spills.

The Starke spills apparently came from six locations, probably adding up to 45,000 gallons of raw sewage, all uphill from Alligator Creek 00277787, above Lake Rowell, Lake Sampson, Sampson River, Santa Fe River.

[Valdosta spills, Starke spills and mines]
Valdosta spills, Starke spills and mines during Tropical Storm Elsa 2021-07-07

Still, the good news is that there were no spills from Valdosta’s two wastewater treatment plants, and the new WWTP catch basin is only half full (so far). Plus, the Mayor of Valdosta called to let us know about these spills. And he says the notorious Wainwright Drive manhole on Onemile Branch is finally getting some attention. Oh, and for once there was no spills reported on Mildred Street.

See also the previous WWALS blog post.

Valdosta Spills

Here is the Valdosta Press Release about their spills. I have added which [waterbody] the spill was on or uphill from. GA-EPD still has not posted Valdosta’s spill reports in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.

The WWALS maps show where the spills were, as near as I could read the tea leaves of Valdosta’s vague “200 block” location reporting. They know the exact latitude and longitude of the affected manholes. Why don’t they include that?

Note that Valdosta’s list does not include a spill that Valdosta limed, between Continue reading

Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA, Starke, FL 2021-07-08

Update 2021-07-09: Detail of Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA * 8, Starke, FL * 6, 2021-07-08

Two cities spilled sewage during Tropical Storm Elsa: Starke, Florida, and Valdosta, Georgia.

The good news: there were no spills from Valdosta’s two wastewater treatment plants, and the new WWTP catch basin is only half full (so far). Plus, the Mayor of Valdosta called to let us know about these spills.

The bad news: Valdosta spilled 89,980 gallons of raw sewage from at least six manholes, and Starke spilled probably 40,000 gallons or more from at least six locations. At least one of the Valdosta spills was from a repeated spill offender we have complained about many times: Wainwright Drive on Onemile Branch.

[Closed manhole at 1208 Wainwright Drive]
Closed manhole at 1208 Wainwright Drive

The other Valdosta spills apparently went into either Twomile Branch or Sugar Creek upstream from the Withlacoochee River, and two possibly into creeks in the Alapaha River Basin. Can’t tell without more precise locations.

A press release is expected soon from Valdosta. I will probably follow up with that and which waterways were affected. Maybe GA-EPD will post Valdosta’s spill reports in the GA-EPD Sewage Spills Report.

The Starke spills were all into or near Alligator Creek 00277787, into Lake Rowell, Lake Sampson, Sampson River, Santa Fe River.

Valdosta Spills

Thanks to Valdosta Mayor Scott James for forwarding this message from Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber: Continue reading

Elsa again Tropical Storm, but hurricane warnings persist, landfall soon 2021-07-07

Update 2021-07-08: Sewage Spills: Valdosta, GA, Starke, FL 2021-07-08.

Elsa has downgraded to Tropical Storm again, and is late for landfall.

As of 8 AM this morning Elsa is 35 miles west of Cedar Key, according to the National Hurricane Center. Pretty much everything in Cedar Key is closed today.

The storm track has moved slightly west. “On the forecast track, Elsa will make landfall along the north Florida Gulf coast by late this morning or this afternoon.” Late morning would be high tide, making storm surge worse.

Elsa is still predicted to move north up the Suwannee River Valley, where county offices are closed today all the way up into Georgia. Then over the Okefenokee Swamp Thursday, on up the Georgia coast, but now somewhat inland, with tropical storm warnings most of the way, and storm surge warnings for the Georgia coast through Charleston, S.C. And on up the eastern seaboard, inland until Virginia, onwards to the Canadian Maritimes by Saturday.

[5-day Cone No Line And Wind]
5-day Cone No Line And Wind

A Storm Surge Warning is in effect for…

  • West coast of Florida from the Middle of Longboat Key to the Aucilla River, including Tampa Bay

A Hurricane Warning is in effect for…

  • West coast of Florida from Chassahowitzka to the Steinhatchee River

A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for…

  • West coast of Florida from south of Chassahowitzka to the Middle of Longboat Key
  • West coast of Florida north of the Steinhatchee River to Ochlockonee River
  • Mouth of St. Marys River, Georgia to Little River Inlet, South Carolina

A Tropical Storm Watch is in effect for…

  • North of Little River Inlet, South Carolina to Chincoteague, Virginia
  • Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds

Interests elsewhere in the Carolinas, the mid-Atlantic coast, southeastern New England, and the Canadian Maritimes should monitor the progress of Elsa.

Tornadoes are possible along the coast and inland. Continue reading

Filthy GA-FL Line, Withlacoochee River 2021-06-26

Update 2021-07-02: Clean Rivers after Tuesday blip and before Thursday rains 2021-07-01.

Sewage spills were reported last week, but not from Georgia: Florida State Prison Tuesday into the New River (of the Santa Fe), and Starke WWTF Saturday above the Santa Fe River. I must commend FDEP for sending out pollution notices on a Sunday, and Starke WWTF for reporting on a weekend. We don’t know what effect those spills had on those rivers, because so far as we know nobody tests there.

Floridians, please ask SRWMD and FDEP to test water quality frequently on all the rivers, all the way to the Gulf, instead of wasting money on water pipe boondoggles.

Meanwhile on the Withlacoochee River for Saturday, Suzy Hall found State Line Boat Ramp filthy, yet Florida Campsites downstream pretty clean. Gus Cleary found Cleary Bluff below Allen Ramp spotless for Friday and with only one spot for Saturday.

How can it be dirty upstream but clean downstream? With all this recent rain, the rivers are moving fast, and a glob of E. coli can flit right past in a few hours.

We can also hope much of the cattle manure has already been washed off. See also Cattle and hogs: Withlacoochee River water quality status 2021-06-27.

We have no data from Valdosta more recent than for Monday, and nothing from Madison Health more recent than Tuesday. Meanwhile, WWALS testers wanted to know, so you could know.

I’d still be wary of the Withlacoochee River until we see repeated clean State Line results. Continue reading

Bill Gates, farms, rivers, springs

The NBC News story has legs.

Rebecca Heilweil, Vox, 11 June 2021, The controversy over Bill Gates becoming the largest private farmland owner in the US: People are drawing connections between Gates’s vast farmlands and climate change advocacy.

One Georgia farmer and environmental advocate, John Quarterman, told NBC that while he expected that Gates would encourage more sustainable practices after buying farmland nearby, his acquisition of that land didn’t change much. And the National Farmers Union has suggested that the growing number of non-farmer owners like Gates buying up farmland — and renting it out — could lead to practices that hurt the environment: Short-term farmers who rent land are less likely to take long-term conservation steps, the organization argues, and non-farmer owners don’t have the experience to “understand the importance of protecting natural resources.”

[Photo: Chris Mericle, Dust storm in Hamilton County, Florida, March, 2014, Suwannee Riverkeeper by NBC News, June, 2021]
Photo: Chris Mericle, Dust storm in Hamilton County, Florida, March, 2014, Suwannee Riverkeeper by NBC News, June, 2021

The Vox story includes the Leading Harvest greenwashing of Gates’ tinkering around the edges, but goes harder on this:

But whatever Gates might wish, many observers can’t quite separate the two things. For them, Bill Gates the environmentalist is also Bill Gates the commercial farmland owner, and they think the two roles are connected even if Gates doesn’t consider them to be.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

OSFR kayaktivism at Ginnie Springs, Santa Fe River 2021-05-29

Not a WWALS outing, but we recommend it: Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) is doing kayaktivism tomorrow, Saturday, May 29, 2021, on a mile and a half of Santa Fe River frontage next to Ginnie Springs.

This is to protest the recent ridiculous award of a water withdrawal permit by the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) to Seven Springs Water Company (SSWC) and Nestlé or Nestle Water North America (NWNA) or BlueTriton as NWNA is called after being bought by One Rock and Metropoulos. It’s so ridiculous SRWMD is appealing its own decision, in addition to three or more other lawsuits.

Paddle if you can, with signs.

Group of paddlers at Ginnie Springs

For all details about outing, see this OSFR blog post: KAYAKTIVISM Sat. May 29, 11am-2pm On The River By Ginnie Springs Campground.

WWALS has contributed financially to the lawsuit OSFR has brought against SRWMD.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

SRWMD disclaims responsibility for new Chemours titanium mine near Starke

Much like the SRWMD Board listened to its attorneys and approved Nestlé Ginnie Springs water withdrawal near the Santa Fe River, SRWMD says it has no authority to stop the proposed new titanium mine Chemours wants near Starke, the fifth one in Florida, plus the two or three Chemours has in Georgia, plus the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, all on Trail Ridge, the north-south divide between the Suwannee River and St. Johns River Basins in Florida, and the dam that holds in the Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia.

The reporter has a good idea: SRWMD could charge Chemours for access through state property to its mine site.

Meanwhile, FDEP Mining and Mitigation has issued a Notice of Intent to Issue Environmental Resource Permit, which includes contact information for comments, and how you could file a request for a legal hearing.

You can also still ask Georgia officials to stop the other proposed mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp:
https://wwals.net/?p=55092

[Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC]
Location, Mine, SRWMD, Bradford BOCC

Craig Pittman, Florida Phoenix, 20 May 2021, FL allowing mining of state-owned wetlands has a certain smell to it,

But the region also boasts a multitude of springs, lakes, creeks, and rivers, including the Santa Fe and the famous Suwannee, celebrated in our problematic state song. Overseeing these watery state assets is the Suwannee River Water Management District, which in 2015 spent $3.9 million to buy more than 2,000 acres of forest and swamp near Starke from the timber company Rayonier.

“It seemed like a good purchase,” Tom Mirti, the district’s deputy executive director, told me this week.

District officials figured they could use that land for a variety of environmentally beneficial projects, including creating a wildlife corridor for bears and other wide-ranging animals between the Ocala National Forest and the Osceola National Forest, he said.

There was just one problem: Rayonier kept the mineral rights to the property. Then the timber giant turned around and leased those mineral rights to Chemours. And there wasn’t a thing the water agency could say about it.

Continue reading

Training: Water Quality Testing, All, mostly online, 2021-05-08

Chemical and Bacteriological water testing training for Georgia Adopt-A-Stream standards by our local trainers.

If you’d like to get trained and do testing for WWALS, please fill out this form:
https://forms.gle/DzWvJuXqTQi12N6v7

Yes, training is difficult in this pandemic situation, but Georgia Adopt-A-Stream has worked out methods, mostly online. With last year’s generous grant from Georgia Power WWALS has purchased enough testing kits so that trainees can have one to use during the training.

[Test kit]
Test kit
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman 2021-02-13.

In the form, remember to say where you can test. We need testers pretty much everywhere:

  • In Georgia on the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers, especially upstream in Lanier, Berrien, and Atkinson Counties, on Okapilco and Crooked and Piscola Creeks in Brooks County, on Onemile Branch, Twomile Branch, and Sugar Creek in and near Valdosta, and upstream on the Little River in Brooks, Cook, and Colquitt Counties, including where we already have testers, because everybody needs time off.
  • In Florida on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee, and Santa Fe Rivers, and on creeks that run into them, especially in Madison, Hamilton, Suwannee, and Lafayette Counties.

For the testing story so far, see Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02.

For much more context and recent testing results, see https://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

We look forward to you getting trained and joining our testing team!

When: 9 AM, Saturday, May 8, 2021

Put In: Mostly online via zoom.

Free: This training is free.

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

Event: facebook, Continue reading

Notice of SRWMD appeal of Nestle decision, purchase one tract, conservation easement another, Suwannee River, SRWMD Board 2021-04-13

The SRWMD board will decide next Tuesday on a land acquisition and a conservation easement amendment on two different parcels on the Suwannee River.

Plus SRWMD legal counsel was prodded by citizen petitions into filing a notice of appeal of SRWMD’s own Nestlé decision to approve that permit, and the Board now has to agree or do something else.

You can attend in person if you get there early enough to get one of the limited seats, or remotely via the usual GoToWebinar https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/1866408207680852239 and dialin 1-888-585-9008, Conference Room Number: 704-019-452 #. If you want to speak, don’t forget to fill out the public comment form: www.MySuwanneeRiver.com/Comments The board packet is on the WWALS website.

[SRWMD appeals its own Nestle order, acquisition, easement, steps]
SRWMD appeals its own Nestle order, acquisition, easement, steps

Agenda Item No. 14 – Lasky Tract Acquisition, Gilchrist County starts on page 29.

Agenda Item No. 15 – Warner-Harrell Conservation Easement starts on page 35. It’s all so somebody can build at their own expense some steps down to a sinkhole.

In more evidence the attorneys really run SRWMD, legal counsel George T. Reeves filed a notice of appeal of the SRWMD Board’s own decision in the Nestle case, and did it after the last SRWMD Board meeting. This only happened because persons un-named by counsel petitioned the SRWMD board at that last meeting that &ldqou;since Seven Springs did not own or control the Facility, the Renewal Permit should not have been issued.” That is the same reason the SRWMD issued its decision “under protest”. Since the SRWMD Board did not go ahead and file its own notice of appeal, the petitioners plan to appeal to the Division of Administrative Hearings. So SRWMD counsel filed a notice of appeal on behalf of SRWMD so SRWMD could be a party. The Board can agree with that at this meeting, or do what exactly instead is not clear.

On pages 14 and 15 of the board packet: Continue reading

Florida needs water quality testing and sign posting

Florida needs to test our rivers all the way to the Gulf, several times every week, instead of depending on Madison County and the city of Valdosta and WWALS.

Jim Tatum caught me and Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson collaborating, probably about getting FDEP to do the DNA marker and chemical tracer tests that have been instrumental in showing most of the recent Withlacoochee River contamination has come from ruminants, of which the most numerous are cattle.

Photo: Jim Tatum, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman and OSFR Founder Merillee Malwitz-Jipson
Photo: Jim Tatum

Calusa Riverkeeper John Cassani knows I bring up the need for statewide Florida testing at almost every weekly Waterkeepers Florida meeting, after he mentions testing where he is.

Jim Tatum, Our Santa Fe River, Guest opinion: Floridians have the right to know if our waters are safe, Continue reading