Tag Archives: springs

FDEP BMAPs update webinar 2021-07-14

I plan to attend, and I suggest others do, as well.

Here’s a monitoring gap: if Valdosta, Georgia, can test water quality three times a week on forty river miles to the GA-FL line, the great state of Florida can do the rest all the way to the Gulf.

And here’s a modeling gap: where’s the comparison of simply limiting water withdrawal permits compared to that SRWMD proposed double pipeline from the Suwannee River to Ichetucknee Headspring?

[Invitation]
Invitation

The cover letter says you can avoid Microsoft Teams by calling in:

Or call in (audio only): 1-469-305-1028

Phone Conference ID: 882 637 651#

Here’s the agenda.

Outstanding Florida Springs
Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) Update
Via Webinar
July 14, 2021
1:00 p.m.
Microsoft Teams link: Click here to join the meeting

  • Welcome / Introductions
  • Updates / Next Steps
  • Onsite Sewage Program Updates
  • Senate Bill 712 / Clean Waterways Act Updates
  • Monitoring Gaps
  • Funding Updates
  • DEP Activities and Updates

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Worse than Falling Creek: SRWMD wants to pipe Suwannee River water twice to Ichetucknee Springs 2021-06-08

Four years ago SRWMD proposed to pipe Suwannee River water from near White Springs to a sinkhole near Falling Creek to replenish the Ichetucknee River. Now the District has come up with something worse: not one, but two pipelines, adding one from Branford, both to spread water on the ground nearer the Ichetucknee headspring. SRWMD told reporters these were just tentative plans, but SRWMD’s own slides lay out a process just like four years ago when a plan was rubberstamped by SRWMD and SJRWMD despite numerous objections. Head it off now!

Here are some easier, less costly, and simpler methods than pipeline boondoggles: send pine plantation ditch water into the aquifer; three ways to limit water withdrawals, and Right to Clean Water.

[Map: Recharge %]
Map: Recharge % in SRWMD’s slides Prevention and Recovery Strategy for the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers and Priority Springs.

What we wrote four years ago applies twice as much this time:

“The Falling Creek project has very large up-front expense, involves environmental risk in running a large-diameter pipe through wetlands, and has high maintenance cost. In addition it only benefits the Ichetucknee Springs watershed. It is seasonal, for instance at the water levels now in the Suwannee, there is no water to pump to Falling Creek.”

Back then we included in our comments to SRWMD a much simpler and less costly proposal 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!

Bill Gates did nothing to stop fertilizer nitrates leaching into springs and rivers –Suwannee Riverkeeper via NBC News 2021-06-08

The story doesn’t say BMAP, but it does get at the heart of the problem the Basin Management Action Plans don’t actually solve, and Bill Gates did not, either.

April Glaser, NBC News, 8 June 2021, updated 9 June 2021, McDonald’s french fries, carrots, onions: all of the foods that come from Bill Gates farmland: Gates does not appear to count his farming investments as the nation’s largest farmland owner as part of his broader strategy to save the climate.

The reporter had never heard of Riverkeepers before, and now here’s one on NBC News.

Algae bloom

But some farmers whose land is adjacent to that of the Gateses have expressed disappointment that despite the couple’s wealth, they have not done more to preserve the environment. Quarterman also serves as the Suwannee Riverkeeper and advocates for conservation of the intricate network of springs and rivers in the region, where water from the swamps of Georgia flow into Florida before they release into the Gulf of Mexico. He said that this is where large tracts of rich farmland is used to raise livestock and grow many of the vegetables that end up in grocery aisles up and down the East Coast.

[John Quarterman stands by the Withlacoochee River in Georgia. Matt Odom / for NBC News]
John Quarterman stands by the Withlacoochee River in Georgia. Matt Odom / for NBC News

All that farming has led to large water withdrawals from Florida’s aquifer system and requires fertilizer, which leaches through the ground into waterways, emptying nitrogen that has led to destructive algae blooms and severe loss of fish and marsh habitats.

In the video segment, she also mentions manatees.

He hoped Gates would have Continue reading

Help SRWMD reject Nestle permit 2021-02-23

You can help the Suwannee River Water Management District Board uphold the public interest and reject Nestlé’s water withdrawal permit application.

[Agenda, Board, No Permit]
Agenda, Board, No Permit

Even SRWMD’s legal counsel only recommends approving the Seven Springs permit “under protest.” The DOAH judge’s Order is actually only a RECOMMENDATION, and the District filed eighteen pages of exceptions to that Order. The judge disallowed most of those exceptions, but SRWMD is still holding open the possibility of appeal with that “under protest”.

The Judge’s Order dances around the basic question: is putting water in plastic bottles after taking it from the Floridan Aquifer next to a depleted river and springs, all for profit of a Swiss company, in the public interest? Florida law and the judge attempt to narrow what can be considered down what can be considered for the public interest to what is in Florida rules or a handbook, even though none of those adequately address the real issues. The plain fact is that a contract to sell water does not determine any public interst in cleaning up plastic bottles from our springs and rivers, nor does it determine any public interest in lower springs and rivers, with bad effects on wildlife, public use of those waters, and eventually on drinking water.

The SRWMD board can deny this permit because it is not in the public interest. You can help them do so.

It almost looks like the SRWMD counsel is asking people to come protest, since he repeatedly mentions that Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) filed legal motions and both Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Michael Roth spoke in the legal hearing. Disclosure: WWALS has provided some financial support for OSFR’s legal actions in this matter.

If you’re going to attend this Special Meeting in person, get there early to get a spot. To attend online, be sure to sign up for both the webinar and cal in for audio. If you want to comment, you must also sign up for that separately. Don’t wait for the second day: if that happens at all, there will be no public comment.

So come early on the first day, in person or online, Tuesday, February 23, 2021.

The entire SRWMD Special Meeting Board packet is on the WWALS website: https://www.wwals.net/pictures/2021-02-23–srwmd-nestle-special-meeting-packet/

Here is the agenda, with how to attend online: Continue reading

Special Nestle permit meeting 2019-02-23; Regular SRWMD business 2021-02-09

Update 2021-02-09: Back to Live Oak and online: SRWMD Nestle Special Meeting 2021-02-23.

This time the judge recommended accepting the permit, as the Nestlé case bounced back to SRWMD from DOAH for a second time.

So the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) has scheduled a special meeting at 9AM on Tuesday, February 23, 2021, at the Suwannee River Fair Pavilion in Fanning Springs. I wonder if all those postcards had any effect on scheduling a special meeting?

SRWMD will not accept any comments on this subject at their regular board meeting next Tuesday.

[Special SRWMD Meeting, Suwannee River Fair Pavilion, 2021-02-23]
Special SRWMD Meeting, Suwannee River Fair Pavilion, 2021-02-23

This time, SRWMD should take the public interest into consideration.

Which would mean a Swiss company profiting on plastic bottles, at the expense of the Floridan Aquifer, Ginnie Springs, and the Santa Fe River levels, is not in the public interest.

You can still send a postcard to SRWMD:

SRWMD Board Members
9225 CR 49
Live Oak, FL 32060

NO Nestlé PERMIT

Here’s the announcement of the special meeting in the current SRWMD Board packet: Continue reading

Resounding applause for M-CORES toll road boondoggle repeal bill 2021-02-03

Elimination of the proposed boondoggle is just what the state needs

TALLAHASSEE, February 3, 2021 — The announcement today of a bill filed in the Senate (SB1030) and soon to be filed in the House, to repeal the bill that created M-CORES, the program that would construct 330 miles of unneeded and fiscally dangerous toll roads through rural Florida, was welcomed by No Roads to Ruin Coalition partners from across the state. After 93% of public comments were opposed to M-CORES, the failure by FDOT and outside analysts to identify any need at all for these roads, and the brutally obvious fiscal reasons to stop the M-CORES process in its tracks, repealing the bill and devoting the billions of dollars it would have devoured instead to critical state needs is exactly what Floridians need.

“Need should have been established before wasting millions of dollars on M-CORES workshops, but that was not possible, because there is no need,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER, WWALS Watershed Coalition. “US 19 from Crystal River to Thomasville, Georgia has nowhere near enough traffic to justify the Suncoast Connector toll road, before even getting into the damage it would cause the Suwannee River, springs, farms, and forests. Cancel M-CORES and spend some of the money directly on pandemic relief, rural broadband, solar panels and batteries, and hurricane shelters,”

[Empty US 19 Photo: Janet Barrow 2020-12-19]
Empty US 19 Photo: Janet Barrow 2020-12-19

Newton Cook, President of United Waterfowlers of Florida said, Continue reading

Withlacoochee advisory lifted; more FDEP DNA marker and chemical tracer data 2021-01-12

Update 2021-01-21: Clean Withlacoochee 2020-01-14 and Suwannee River tests 2021-01-18.

It’s lifted: the bacterial advisory from Madison and Hamilton Health Departments, because of two successive good sets of results from Madison Health on the Withlacoochee River, the lastest for Tuesday. And Valdosta got good results upstream for Monday. All of which corroborates the Thursday Madison Health, Friday Valdosta, and Saturday WWALS results.

[Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map]
Lifted, Chart, Markers, Map

We also have more DNA marker data from FDEP, for Wednesday, January 6, 2021, which shows continued high ruminant DNA marker results on the Withlacoochee River, this time for Horn Bridge at the State Line, plus CR 150 at Sullivan Launch, and FL 6 just above Madison Blue Spring. Plus some clarifications of what I wrote in the previous blog post.

Before we get into all that, happy boating, swimming, and fishing on the Withlacoochee River! Continue reading

Contaminated Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee Rivers 2021-01-04; cleaner 2021-01-09

Update 2021-01-14: see clarifications and updates in Withlacoochee advisory lifted; more FDEP DNA marker and chemical tracer data 2021-01-12.

The Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers were contaminated with E. coli Monday, January 4, 2021, all the way from US 41 at North Valdosta Road to US 90 below the Withlacoochee River Confluence, and probably farther downstream, according to Valdosta, Madison Health, and FDEP data for that day. We also have preliminary DNA marker results from FDEP.

The culprit? Ruminants. The only ruminants numerous enough to cause the sky-high DNA marker results for the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers? Cattle.

This is a good example of how when testing happens upstream and down, we can all tell what is going on. Florida needs to fund frequent, regular, closely-spaced water quality testing from the state line to the Gulf. Continue reading

Ichetucknee up and back paddle 2021-01-02

A bit of TV coverage for conserving springs and the WWALS Ichetucknee upstream paddle.

Dylan Lyons, WJCB.com, January 2, 2021, Local environmental organization hits the springs for their first kayaking event of 2021 (follow the link for WCJB’s embedded video),

[WCJB, WWALS]
WCJB, WWALS

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB)—WWALS Watershed Coalition is an organization in North-Central Florida and South Georgia dedicated to conservation and education about natural springs. Their goal is to bring focus to problems like excessive water withdrawal. They do that by bringing people out to the springs to see the issues first hand and recognize the beauty of the natural waters.

“More exposure is great because the more people that see the rivers are there and that they are all great like they are and especially the people that get on them. The more they’ll help take care of them,” said John S. Quarterman, the Suwannee Riverkeeper.

Continue reading