Tag Archives: Suwannee River Basin

Florida Gov. DeSantis Urged to Declare State of Emergency Due to Red Tide 2021-07-19

“The Suwannee River Basin has been lucky in avoiding red tide so far, but we don’t want it anywhere,” said John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper. “Beyond this emergency, let’s stop the excess fertilizers and phosphate mine waste that are causing this problem.”

Several other Florida Waterkeepers signed the letter, as did Waterkeepers Florida, representing all the Waterkeepers of Florida.

[Red tide warning, beach closure sign in St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity.]
Red tide warning, beach closure sign in St. Petersburg, Fla.: Jaclyn Lopez, Center for Biological Diversity.

“Tampa Bay hasn’t been this sick since the 1970s when Clean Water Act regulations brought about the bay’s recovery,” said Justin Bloom, Suncoast Waterkeeper board member. “It is with a groundswell of public support that we call on our governor for leadership to protect and restore our bays and waterways.”

“Our right to clean water has been jeopardized and now is the time for action to protect Tampa Bay,” said Megan Eakins, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper board chair. “Our area needs the full support of our governor to take the actions necessary to mitigate this disaster and ensure this does not happen again.”

“Failure to remove dead and decaying marine life will exacerbate the intensity and duration of the red tide event,” said Andre Mele, executive director of Peace+Myakka Waterkeeper. “Dead marine life releases nutrients into the water column, which feeds the red tide organism and adds to the bloom, in a classic positive feedback loop.”

Plus the international Waterkeeper Alliance.

“Nearly 50 years ago, amid the era of burning rivers and rampant environmental degradation, the Clean Water Act was enacted, and yet almost five decades later, too many decision-makers continue to ignore the lessons history has taught us,” said Patience Burke, Waterkeeper Alliance organizer for the Gulf and South Atlantic regions. “We are bearing witness to an ecological catastrophe and will face judgment over the next 50 years about how we do, or do, not respond.”

Gov. DeSantis Urged to Declare State of Emergency Due to Red Tide

Hundreds of Tons of Dead Marine Animals Have Been Collected From Tampa Bay, Including Six Manatees

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— More than two dozen local businesses and conservation groups today asked Gov. Ron DeSantis to declare a state of emergency due to the ongoing red tide and fish kills in and around Tampa Bay. The St. Petersburg city council and mayor also have requested that the governor declare a state of emergency to help coordinate and fund desperately needed cleanup efforts and mitigate the worsening red tide.

The red tide appeared in Tampa Bay shortly after Florida regulators, in March, authorized the discharge of up to 480 million gallons of wastewater from the Piney Point phosphogypsum stack into Tampa Bay.

The Piney Point gypstack is a mountain of toxic waste topped by an impoundment of hundreds of millions of gallons of process wastewater, stormwater and tons of dredged spoil from Port Manatee. So-called “nutrient pollution” like ammonia, nitrogen and phosphorous from that discharge can significantly worsen red tides.

The hundreds of tons of dead marine life discovered in recent weeks has included manatees and goliath groupers, which can weigh hundreds of pounds, as well as puffer fish, eel, horseshoe crabs, sheepshead, mullet, snook, red drum, tarpon, sharks, grouper, catfish and numerous other species of fish.

“Red tide’s carnage is horrific and infuriating,” said Continue reading

Suwannee River Basin is bigger than several states, less populous than any

Suwannee Riverkeeper and WWALS work for fishable, swimmable, drinkable water in all 10,000 square miles of the Suwannee River Basin and Estuary.

But how big is that, compared to what? Other river systems, states, cities, territories?

[Rivers and Districts]
Rivers and Districts

Land Area

The Basin covers 9,950 square miles, plus some harder-to-estimate land and water area for the Estuary. See How big are WWALS Watersheds?

RiverGeorgiaFloridaTotal
Withlacoochee2,0902702,360
Alapaha1,7261141,840
Upper Suwannee River1,9048162,720
Lower Suwannee River01,590 1,590
Santa Fe River01,4001,400

Suwannee River Basin5,7204,2309,950

So 10,000 square miles is a good guess for the total land area.

Rivers Area

The Suwannee River Basin is one of the larger ones hereabouts, but far from the largest. Continue reading

Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11

Update 2020-07-14: Bad Friday and Saturday water quality results, Withlacoochee River 2020-07-11.

Not looking good downstream on the Withlacoochee River. Madison Health unusually tested on a Friday, and found too-high E. coli results at Florida 6, just above Madison Blue Spring: 414 cfu/100 mL. Saturday, WWALS results at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp were horrible: 5,233. Nankin Boat Ramp results were merely too high: 600. State Line Boat Ramp was within acceptable limits Saturday, but that contamination probably washed down that far by Sunday and well into Florida by this morning.

[Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide]
Withlacoochee River, Swim Guide

Thanks to WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach for collecting those downstream Withlacoochee River samples, and to Suzy Hall for providing the results. See also What do these numbers mean?

[Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6]
Dirty Knights Ferry, Nankin, FL 6
For the complete WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results and other context, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Friday Conn got 2,100 on Crooked Creek at Devane Road. Remember, Crooked Creek runs into Okapilco Creek downstream of US 84. That 2,100 is actually lower than many results we’ve seen at that location, and Crooked Creek has much less flow than Okapilco Creek. So that number is not enough to account for the 5,233 downstream of Okapilco Creek on the Withlacoochee River at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp the next day. Did it come from somewhere else, such as upstream on Okapilco Creek?

This map may help with understanding where all these places are.

[Landings, Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map]
Landings in Suwannee River Basin, WWALS Map

However many places the E. coli came from, there is reason to believe that the most likely sources are cattle.

[Little River, Swim Guide]
Little River, Swim Guide

Meanwhile on Saturday, upstream WWALS testers Conn Cole and John S. Quarterman found good results on the Little River at GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp) and GA 122 (Folsom Bridge Landing), as well as at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River (Hagan Bridge Landing). Friday Conn Cole aso got good results on Okapilco Creek at US 84.

Plus, Valdosta’s Friday results for US 41, GA 133, and US 84 are all good. Valdosta did get a high Fecal coliform result for US 41, but we go by E. coli. Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for getting these Valdosta Friday results published this morning.

Back downstream, you don’t even have to count the blue-with-bubbles colonies to see Continue reading

Subaru featured Tom Potter for science, cleanup, outings, and water quality

“If you get people out on the river and they have a positive experience with nature, they will help protect it,” wrote Dr. Tom Potter, pictured during the March 2019 Onemile Branch Cleanup at Drexel Park during Azalea Festival.

Kara Pound, Subaru Drive, Winter 2019, 2019 Subaru Drive Community Champions,

We are thrilled to celebrate these exceptional Subaru owners who embody the Subaru Love Promise by giving their time and talent to help their communities.

[The catch]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Tom Potter at Onemile Branch Cleanup during Azalea Festival, Drexel Park, Valdosta, GA, 2019-03-10.

The Watershed Protector

Tom Potter, 69
Valdosta, Georgia
Vehicle:
Subaru Outback
Volunteering: WWALS Watershed Coalition, which works to protect watersheds in South Georgia and North Florida

“I have a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry and a lengthy background in the science of water quality — I worked as Continue reading

Statement on Environmental Justice –Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS 2020-06-08

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

[Statement on Environmental Justice]
Statement on Environmental Justice
PDF

June 8, 2020

Statement on Environmental Justice

Suwannee Riverkeeper and WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. protect the Suwannee River Basin for the sake of every person who visits or lives here. Clean water is essential to everyone, regardless of their ethnicity, beliefs, politics, or anything else. However, during the course of our work opposing the Sabal Trail methane pipeline and other advocacy, it became clear that minorities and economically disadvantaged people will disproportionately experience negative effects. We continue to work against such environmental injustice across the entire Suwannee River Basin in dozens of counties in Georgia and Florida. Valuing all the watershed’s inhabitants is entirely compatible with having added concern for those facing added danger.

The killing of George Floyd and many other recent tragedies suffered by people of color show that even if we strive to love our neighbors equally, the threats and injustices they face are not equal. As professionals and volunteers we fight for the human right of clean water. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from a Birmingham jail, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” It appears to us that the economic forces that drive unnecessary pipelines under rivers and through disadvantaged neighborhoods and that have made it so difficult to oppose pipelines and mines are the same forces that have resulted in so many recent tragedies with little justice. We have always stood for nonviolent advocacy, but we cannot condemn the few who have used other means without also pointing to the large corporations that benefit from subsidies, tax breaks, and legal advantages while so many get nothing.

We seek to listen and learn from our colleagues and neighbors. We do not pretend to be experts on racial issues. Nevertheless, we promote clean water to ensure healthy communities, and we are concerned about all members of those communities: especially the most vulnerable. We stand against racism and injustice in any form.

As one small step, we plan to offer swimming and boating lessons especially to minorities and economically disadvantaged people; please contact us about that.

Meanwhile, an election is in progress. Please look at what each candidate says about environmental issues. If a candidate will not stand up to protect rivers and swamps, you may want to look more closely at their promises about people.

Link to this statement: https://wwals.net/2020/06/08/statement-on-environmental-justice-suwannee-riverkeeper-for-wwals-2020-06-08

For the rivers and the aquifer,
John S. Quarterman
Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
229-242-0102
contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org

GA-EPD Listing of Waterbodies, Clean Water Act Section 303(d) 2020-04-03

What Georgia streams are not impaired?

[Georgia impaired waters, map]
Georgia impaired waters, map
Map: GECAP.

Very few, apparently.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has drafted the “Georgia 2020 305(b)/303(d) draft list of waters was prepared in accordance with Sections 305(b) and 303(d) of the Federal Clean Water Act and guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

There’s an online public meeting 1PM, Wednesday, May 20, 2020 for questions and comments.

Comments may also be emailed on or before 4:30 PM June 4, 2020, to Continue reading

Earth Day online with Waterkeepers Florida 2020-04-22

Update 2020-04-23: Video of WKFL Toast to Earth Day and examples of #SuwanneeCleanup.

Join Suwannee Riverkeeper and all of Waterkeepers Florida tomorrow evening to toast clean water in the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day.

WWALS is also celebrating with a distributed cleanup. Go to any convenient river, creek, spring, or swamp, pick up trash, and post pictures or video with the hashtag #SuwanneeCleanup.

When: 5:30 PM – 6:00 PM, Earth Day, Wednesday, April 21, 2020

Where: Facebook livestream in the facebook event.
We will start a watch party.

Also on Zoom: https://zoom.us/j/91684283854
Dial in: +1 929 205 6099 / Meeting ID: 916 8428 3854#

[WKFL Earth Day Toast]

Physical: State Line Boat Ramp, 6461 Madison Hwy, Valdosta, GA 31601
That’s where Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman will be speaking.
You can come help clean up, provided you keep six feet apart.
Post pictures or video of yourself, and use #SuwanneeCleanup. Continue reading

Gear Swap at Banks Lake: find a new boat, maybe try it out, or get rid of an old one 2020-03-07

Sent to the media Wednesday (see also PDF):

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Gear Swap at Banks Lake: find a new boat, maybe try it out, or get rid of an old one

[2020-02-26--gear-swap-pr-0001]
2020-02-26–gear-swap-pr-0001

Lakeland, Georgia, February 26, 2020 — Here’s something new: a fun-filled day of promoting paddle activities and trying various boat designs, at Banks Lake on the first Saturday of March. This new event by WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) should help paddlers find a new boat or get rid of an old one. If the owner permits, you can try out a boat right there on Banks Lake. This should help get everyone ready to kick off a new paddling season in the great Suwannee River Basin.

[Bret Miller, NWXpeditions, outfitting a paddler]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, of Bret Miller of NWXpeditions, 2020-02-09

WWALS Outings Chair Bobby McKenzie, who thought up this Gear Swap, says, “Many thanks to Continue reading

Cost of reclassifying Georgia rivers from Fishing to Recreational in Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Recently I was asked if there would be water monitoring costs to cities or counties because of upgrading our main Suwannee River Basin waters in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, as we have requested in Georgia’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. Here’s the answer, as best I could determine. And how you can help. For those who wonder why upgrade from Fishing to Recreational, please see the previous blog post.

[Satellite Map]
WWALS Satellite Map of landing in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia

Specifically the question was: would reclassifying rivers or swamp from Fishing to Recreational cause cities or counties to have to spend more money on water quality monitoring, specifically if a wastewater treatment plant had a spill, more money on water quality sampling afterwards?

The brief answer is: probably not.

Recently, I asked James A. Capp, Chief, Watershed Protection Branch, EPD. He said that for that case, there should be no change, because sampling after a spill is determined mostly by the number of gallons spilled.

Let me use some NPDES permits I have on hand to illustrate.

Here is the language in NPDES Permit No. GA0020222 for Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, first about number of gallons, then about the required sampling. Continue reading

Last year’s winner Laura D’Alisera headlines Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Last year, Laura D’Alisera of Jacksonville, Florida, won both the $50 prize for best song from outside the Suwannee River Basin, and the $300 First Prize for best song. This year, she’s on the committee that selected the seven finalists who will play for the three judges and you this Saturday, August 24, 2019. But first, Laura and Joe Smothers will entertain you, so come on down, 1-5 PM, to The Salty Sanpper, 1405 Gornto Road, Valdosta, GA, where radio personality Chris Beckham will be our M.C.

Laura D'Alisera (Sara Jay)
Photo: Sara Jay, of Laura D’Alisera winning the First Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest last year (2018).

Laura said her song is Continue reading