Tag Archives: swamp

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

Alligator snapping turtle threatened status: another reason to protect the Okefenokee Swamp 2021-04-07

Let’s put the end of the story up top:

John Quarterman, who is the Suwannee Riverkeeper with the WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., said he hopes potential new federal protections will highlight the need to shield part of the turtle’s potential habitat from a proposed mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp. The [Georgia] state Department of Natural Resource[s] is weighing whether to issue mining permits to Twin Pines [Minerals LLC of Alabama].

The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is included in the turtle’s range outlined by the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“It’s yet another reason to protect the swamp,” Quarterman said this week.

Please send your comments to Georgia officials asking them to thoroughly review and then reject the five permit applications from the miners:
https://waterkeeper.org/news/help-suwannee-riverkeeper-save-okefenokee-swamp/

Suwannee alligator snapping turtle
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) listed the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as State Threatened in September 2018.

Jill Nolin, Georgia Recorder, 7 April 2021, Feds propose protection for hefty Suwannee alligator snapping turtle,

A rare prehistoric looking turtle only found in south Georgia and north Florida might soon gain federal protection after struggling to rebound.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced this week that it has proposed listing the Suwannee alligator snapping turtle as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The announcement kicks off a public comment period that will wrap up this June.

The turtle is the largest found in north American rivers, with some males weighing in at more than 200 pounds. The Suwannee gator snapper makes its home in the waterways flowing through Tifton and Valdosta before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal agency reported Tuesday that only about 2,000 of the turtles remain across the two states. The Suwannee alligator snapping turtle was only recently split off as its own species.

“The science that the Service has gathered on this turtle indicates Continue reading

Public Hearing: Biomass wastewater permit, Madison County, Georgia 2021-03-02

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

Where: https://gaepd.zoom.us/j/96881364173

[Property Location]
Property Location


PUBLIC NOTICE

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

Protecting our waters from a strip mine –Suwannee Riverkeeper in Valdosta Daily Times 2020-12-23

“Dear runoff candidates: What will you do to stop this proposed strip mine far too near the Okefenokee Swamp?”

You can also ask that question of those candidates and of the Georgia governor and other elected officials:
https://wwals.net/?p=54109#howtocomment

[Dateline, Op-ed]
Dateline, Op-ed

The op-ed in the Valdosta Daily Times of December 23, 2020, was slightly shortened. Below is what I sent, including links to references.

A company from Alabama, Twin Pines Minerals LLC, proposes to strip-mine for titanium dioxide for paint within a few miles of the Okefenokee Swamp. Twin Pines is under a Florida Consent Order for titanium mines in north Florida. Its president was a proponent of the Franklin County, Georgia, biomass plant that caused a massive fish kill. The state had to pass a law to stop it from burning railroad ties. https://wwals.net/?p=53931

The miners have promised jobs, from 150 to 300, with no specifics. And at what cost?

A sign at I-75 Exit 16 for Valdosta says: “Okefenokee Swamp… 62 Miles.” The Swamp is an internationally-known treasure that Continue reading