We thanked the Atkinson County Commission for this letter, and later got a copy of it. The letter probably helped with GA-EPD deciding to redesignate Recreational an upper segment of the Alapaha River Water Trail, one containing Willacoochee Landing in Atkinson County. More redesignations are possible later. There’s a GA-EPD Update Meeting next week.Continue reading
Maybe this letter will help GA-EPD to upgrade our waterways from Fishing to Recreational for tighter standards on contaminants.Continue reading
There are a couple of new things in what I sent on the deadline day, yesterday. (PDF)
- 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.
- 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.
June 30, 2021
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.
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:
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
Thanks again to the City of Adel for Resolution #18-02 that they passed on January 16, 2018, in support of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail.
Also in the big image above you see a new sign for the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail. More on that, later.
For now, note that the sign has the new City of Adel logo on it. That logo and the signed resolution are courtesy of City Clerk Rhonda P. Rowe.
The text of the resolution we published at the time.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
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.
For the rivers and the aquifer,
John S. Quarterman
At Nankin Thursday: 533 cfu/100 mL E. coli, well above the state limit of 200, and up from 33 on December 15, and zero on December 11 and 8 and November 23.
Florida already saw elevated bacterial counts at the state line on Tuesday, so the Withlacoochee River is apparently contaminated with Valdosta sewage all the way from Sugar Creek down to the Florida line. Yet Valdosta still hasn’t put up any warning signs on the Withlacoochee River downstream from Sugar Creek.
That December 26th reading by Suzy Hall at Nankin Boat Ramp isn’t as high as her recent numbers at Knights Ferry: 6,767 on December 24 and 4,966 on December 21st (with 100 on December 15th and zero on December 11th). Nonetheless, it looks like Valdosta’s sewage has spread downstream from Knights Ferry to Nankin.
At 533 cfu/100 ml, you probably don’t want to get that river water on you. Georgia standards indicate Continue reading
Florida provides Get Out of Jail Free cards for fertilizer, sewage, and manure (FSM), wrote Waterkeepers Florida in this letter sent Friday to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in its Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards:
If actual substantial harm is eventually found, the only result is a planning processes that lead to Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs). BMAPs are largely collaborations of the operators of FSM pollution sources, and the only consequence of the failure of the plan to actually curb FSM pollution is a requirement to report the failure. Where BMAPs were hoped to be practical mechanisms to reduce FSM pollution, they have in fact functioned as a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for agriculture industries and other sources of as FSM pollution, while our waters continue to be degraded. The FSM rules have been implemented over the past seven years, during which time, widespread massive algae outbreaks have taken place on the St. Johns River, and in other rivers and lakes throughout Florida.
Much of this letter from most of the members of Waterkeepers Florida, including Suwannee Riverkeeper, is about cyanotoxins, which fortunately we do not yet have in the Suwannee River Basin, and coral reefs, which are a southern Florida regional matter. Yet every regional matter affects the whole state of Florida, the southeast, the nation, and the world. For example, about II. Routes of Ingestion:
This calculation only takes ingestion while swimming into account. Exposure to cyanotoxins can also occur dermally and through inhalation of aerosolized particles. These routes are not taken into consideration, as EPA states, because adequate effects data are not available. The relative source contribution that was a part of the 2016 recommendations has been removed, to focus on the ingestion.
Plus people all over Florida and beyond eat fish caught in the red tide areas: how much exposure to ingested cyanotoxins do we all have?Continue reading
Update 2019-07-05:: Some WWALS videos on YouTube.
The first day of #PaddleGA2019 was a fun day, with a confluence, greetings by VIPs, creeks, small rapids, a limpkin, Valdosta’s notorious Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant Outfall, one bad water quality reading (not there), swimming, an even more notorious fracked methane pipeline, and Spook Bridge, with a pet deer across the river. Thanks to The Langdale Company for that takeout and the Port-A-Potty location, and thanks to the Battery Source for the loan of the golf cart to WWALS.
Here’s Gwyneth Moody, Georgia River Network Water Trail coordinator, getting her orange kayak in the water.
Somebody was flying a drone. Continue reading
Update 2018-12-21: GA-EPD daily online Sewage Spill Reports!
Update 2018-12-14: Now plus a petition individuals can sign.
Update 2018-12-12: Four more Georgia groups make 31: Georgia Women (And Those Who Stand With Us), Atlanta Audubon Society, Chattahoochee Parks Conservancy, and No Ash At All—Wayne County.
Florida groups: you can sign on, too, like some already have!
WCTV came to Hagan Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River to interview Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman about what Madison County and 10 more Florida counties are doing about Valdosta sewage spills into local rivers. Don’t forget the Tour of Valdosta wastewater treatment plants 9:30 AM this morning, Wednesday, October 3, 2018.
Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 2 October 2018, North Florida communities look to solve sewage spills in Valdosta, Continue reading