Tag Archives: swamp

Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee Rivers in GA-EPD Triennial Review Update 2021-09-13

We appear to be the poster child for Recreational redesignation of waterbodies by GA-EPD.

[Prioritization of Nominated Waterbodies]
Prioritization of Nominated Waterbodies; blue marks prioritized waterbodies.

That’s a slide from today’s update meeting.

Not all our blue prioritized waterbodies were redesignated: not Banks Lake nor Grand Bay. But the Withlacoochee and Alapaha segments were redesignated. We may have gotten more river miles redesignated than anywhere else in Georgia.

[Stretches redesignated Recreational]
Stretches redesignated Recreational on the GA-EPD map.

As you can see, GA-EPD stuck to considering swimming as most important for what they call primary recreation, which is what they require for Recreational redesignation. Thanks to all of you who sent in swimming pictures and locations. You can keep sending those in, especially for the Suwannee River. Thanks to those cities and counties and Chambers of Commerce that sent in letters of support. Continue reading

Parts of Alapaha, Withlacoochee Rivers to be Recreational –GA-EPD 2021-08-11

Update 2021-09-01: More Recreational redesignation of waterbodies still possible –GA-EPD 2021-09-01.

GA-EPD picked a subset of the river stretches they previously said they would consider for Recreational designation: in the Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards: parts of the Alapaha River, and a smaller part of the Withlacoochee River.

There’s an online Update Meeting next month.

[Header, Suwannee River Basin]
Header, Suwannee River Basin

So that’s the Alapaha River from the Willacoochee River to Dampier Branch, and from Cherry Creek to the state line. I guess you can still paddle from Willacoochee Landing @ GA 135 to Berrien Beach Boat Ramp @ GA 168 without getting into any non-Recreational stretches. But Lakeland Boat Ramp and Pafford’s and Burnt Church Landings are right out. But you can paddle from Hotchkiss Road Landing to Naylor Boat Ramp, Mayday Landing, Statenville Boat Ramp, and on to Florida.

Redesignated Recreational is the Withlacoochee River from Tiger Creek (at Spook Bridge, just below US 84) to the state line. So Knights Creek, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps can all be Recreational, even though they’re all downstream of Okapilco Creek and all those cattle in Brooks County, but Langdale Park Boat Ramp and Troupville Boat Ramp are not designated Recreational, despite the Valdosta Mayor’s letter of support.

However, the big win is that anything at all got redesignated. In previous cycles, GA-EPD declined to consider such a thing. And we can reapply next time.

Completely missing from this list are: Continue reading

Valdosta Mayor supports Recreational redesignation of rivers 2021-06-30

Maybe this letter will help GA-EPD to upgrade our waterways from Fishing to Recreational for tighter standards on contaminants.

[Water Trails, Mayor's Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp]
Water Trails, Mayor’s Paddle, cleanups, $100 million sewer improvements, Troupville River Camp
PDF

Letter, Valdosta Mayor to GA-EPD

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

Tropical Storm Elsa headed up Suwannee River Basin 2021-07-06

Update 9 AM 2021-07-07: Elsa again Tropical Storm, but hurricane warnings persist, landfall soon 2021-07-07

Recent heavy rains were just the start. Expect 4 to 6 inches more today or tomorrow from Tropical Storm Elsa, along with winds from hurricane force in Dixie County plus possible storm surge, dropping to maybe 30 mph in south Georgia, with marginal risk of flash flooding throughout.

[Rainfall]
Rainfall

Where I am near the GA-FL line, we already got 6.25 inches in the past two days. That’s six weeks of rain by the annual average. Also near the state line, western Brooks County, GA got almost an inch and a half, Skipper Bridge on the Withlacoochee River got almost an inch and US 84 more than half an inch, while Statenville on the Alapaha got almost an inch, and Fargo on the Suwannee got almost two inches.

According to the National Hurricane Center at 8AM this morning, Tropical Storm Elsa is west of Key West, heading up the Florida Gulf Coast past Tampa, expected to make landfall around 2AM Wednesday (tomorrow), probably in Dixie County, for which county a hurricane warning has been issued. Continue reading

Upgrade Suwannee River Basin rivers to Recreational –WWALS to GA-EPD 2021-06-30

There are a couple of new things in what I sent on the deadline day, yesterday. (PDF)

  1. Funds are now available to buy the private land at the Little River Confluence with the Withlacoochee River, which was the main impediment to plans for the Troupville River Camp and Troupville River Park.
  2. Stakeholders in the One Valdosta-Lowndes initiative met and decided their number one community and economic development priority is: Troupville River Camp.

For what this is all about, see Calling for pictures of swimming, diving, rapids, tubing, water skiing, or surfing, Suwannee River Basin, Georgia.

[Rivers, Letter]
Rivers, Letter


June 30, 2021

To: EPD.Comments@dnr.ga.gov
Elizabeth Booth, Environmental Protection Division
Watershed Protection Branch,
Watershed Planning & Monitoring Program,
Suite 1152 East, 2 Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr., Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Dear Ms. Booth,

Once again I would like to commend you and all the GA-EPD staff for your diligence in this Triennial Review process. I thank you for your consideration of the request by WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) to upgrade GA EPD’s designated use of the Little, Withlacoochee, Alapaha, and Suwannee Rivers, as well as Grand Bay WMA, Banks Lake NWR, and the Okefenokee NWR, from Fishing to Recreational, to set higher water quality standards for these bodies of water.

In the interests of saving you and me time, I will try to merely summarize the arguments I have already made, while adding some material you may not have previously seen.

Year-Round

As you know WWALS would prefer that redesignation applied uniformly, year-round. As you mentioned in the recent EPD zoom meeting on this subject, perhaps one reason Florida has all its rivers as Recreational by default is its climate. South Georgia, like north Florida (and unlike north Georgia) has a subtropical climate in which we are not surprised by 80-degree weather in January. People swim, dive, fish, and boat on our rivers year-round. Some people even prefer to be on and in the water in the winter because there are fewer insects. I have recently been reminded that local churches also use them for immersion baptisms, which can happen in any season of the year.

Recreational Data Spreadsheet

Per request of EPD, please find attached a Recreational Data Spreadsheet, which is also online here:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1g9gLcNnbRx4H9djZAlKd1ZaB7zrlmDbz/view?usp=sharing

In that spreadsheet are examples of swimming and diving locations, including almost every boat ramp or landing, plus selected sandbars, beaches, and springs. Also included are a few examples of rapids. None of them are Class III, but at least two are Class II+, and as Gwyneth Moody pointed out on the recent zoom, people frequently capsize in those.

Included for every location in that spreadsheet is a link to further information, mostly to one of our three river trails (“blue trails”):

Continue reading

Suwannee River Sill, Griffis Fish Camp 2019-12-08

The water gates at the Suwannee River Sill are always open, despite the widespread Florida myth that in big rains Georgia opens them to flood Florida.

[The Sill is always open for Suwannee River water, 09:50:32, 30.804, -82.4177]
The Sill is always open for Suwannee River water, 09:50:32, 30.8040000, -82.4177000

These pictures are from camping two nights at Griffis Fish Camp.

See also the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, extended into Georgia. Continue reading

Calling for pictures of swimming, diving, rapids, tubing, water skiing, or surfing, Suwannee River Basin, Georgia

Update 2021-06-21: The real deadline is June 30, 2021.

Calling for pictures, personal experience, or other evidence of swimming or diving in lakes and rivers in the Suwannee River Basin, and evidence of investments in recreation.

[Candidate Recreational waterways, Georgia, legend, Suwannee River Basin]
Candidate Recreational waterways, Georgia, legend, Suwannee River Basin

For a waterway to be redesignated Recreational instead of Fishing, as we requested back in 2019, GA-EPD requires evidence of “Primary Contact Recreation,” which it says is “full immersion contact with water where there is significant risk of ingestion that includes, but is not limited to, swimming, diving, white water boating (class 3+), tubing, water skiing, and surfing.”

Recreational designation would mean tighter restrictions on contamination limits. That should be good for fish, fishing, people who swim, fish, and boat, and for eco-tourism.

Could everyone who has pictures, news reports, or other solid evidence of such activities in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia please send them in. That’s in the Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River, Alapaha River, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, Withlacoochee River, or Little River.

Please use this form:
https://forms.gle/DipPgU2TP5atc2Rf9
If you have difficulties with that, please email them to wwalswatershed@gmail.com.

Also, please send any evidence of investments in recreation along any of these waterways, with dollar amounts, if you have them.

No rush. We thought we had until the end of June, but recently GA-EPD truncated the deadline to May 28th. That’s Friday of this week. GA-EPD has indicated that the end-of-week deadline may be flexible, but please send what you’ve got as fast as you can.

They also applied a bunch of criteria, some of which we were previously unaware of, and tossed out many stretches of the rivers. We asked for an appeal process, but they have not provided one. So feel free to send in pictures and other evidence about all stretches, and we’ll see what we can do with them.

The good news is that still on the candidate list for Recreational redesignation is all of the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee River in Georgia, Banks Lake, and Grand Bay Creek and Trail within the Grand Bay WMA. Also included is most of the Alapaha River within the Alapaha River Water Trail, but not upstream from the Willacoochee River, and not for ten miles downstream from Lakeland.

But almost all of the Withlacoochee River is eliminated, except for Tiger Creek (at Spook Bridge) to the state line, and all of the Little River is eliminated. Also gone is Lake Irma, because Continue reading

Pop-up Paddle, Okefenokee Swamp, and Songwriting Contest on Scott James radio 2021-05-11

Update 2021-05-14: There’s good water quality news upstream for tomorrow’s Withlacoochee River paddle from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to Sugar Creek and the Salty Snapper. Not so good downstream.

The Salty Snapper pop-up paddle this Saturday may be a bit truncated, due to water levels getting low. We may paddle only from Langdale Park Boat Ramp to the Salty Snapper, because the second leg on to Troupville Boat Ramp is getting too low. Expedition leader Bobby McKenzie will post updates on the facebook event and the meetup, and we’ll blog final status before the paddle. Bobby’s out paddling the route right now.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1136633426809951/
https://www.meetup.com/Withlacoochee-Alapaha-Suwannee-RIvers-WWALS-Outings/events/278008951/

Follow this link for other details on this outing:
https://wwals.net/?p=55532

Looks like you can shuttle by scheduling with the new Valdosta on-demand minibus transit service for a $2 ride back from the Salty Snapper to Langdale Park Boat Ramp.
https://www.valdostacity.com/public-works/valdosta-demand

[Movie: Pop-up paddle, no fee, at Langdale Park, Saturday, 2021-05-15]

Tuesday morning, Suwannee Riverkeeper was talking about this paddle with Scott James on his 92.1 FM radio show.

Here’s a WWALS video playlist:

Continue reading

Water Trail Brochures available: Alapaha, Withlacoochee, and Little Rivers

WWALS has printed 10,000 z-fold brochures for each of two water trails, through a generous grant from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GA-DNR). Plus Georgia Beer Company is a new sponsor, adding to a long list of cities, counties, tourist councils, and development authorities that have assisted with money or letters or resolutions of support. The images here are updated to what we printed. Contact us to get printed copies of these brochures: they’re free to individuals or to groups that will distribute them to the public.

[ARWT front and back, WLRWT mapside]
ARWT front and back, WLRWT mapside

This is the third edition of the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT) brochure, and the first-ever Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) brochure.

You can help defray the cash match for the grant, online, or contact us. Or maybe you’d like to contribute to our water trail signs.

WWALS is currently updating all our online water trail maps and web pages. You can help:
https://forms.gle/qXkPr7eCK51P4X4u7

There are also many other ways you can participate in the activities and advocacy of WWALS:
https://wwals.net/donations/

Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT)

See: https://wwals.net/maps/alapaha-water-trail/

The two previous ARWT brochure editions, 10,000 copies each, lasted about four years. This one has Continue reading