Tag Archives: Waterkeepers Florida

Pictures: Waterkeepers Florida, Santa Fe River and springs 2024-02-08

We saw many springs, divers, entrances to two big sinkholes (Little and Big Awesome Sucks), many turtles, some alligators, a wood stork, a cattle egret, a hawk, a great blue heron, and some buzzards, as well as many gar and other fish, more cypress knees than you can count, and one very old cypress tree, just below some less than scary shoals.

Perhaps most importantly, nobody was in a hurry to get anywhere. Everybody paddles leisurely, took in the sights, and socialized.

At one of our Friday morning Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) zoom calls, Jen Lomberk, the WKFL chair, asked Suwannee Riverkeeper to organize an outing while we would all be in Gainesville for an annual conference. The nearest Suwannee River Basin River is the Santa Fe, so I called on Doug Jipson of outfitter Rum 138 to shuttle us, and Merillee Malwitz-Jipson of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) to guide us. See also the pictures Merrillee sent.

[Waterkeepers Florida, Santa Fe River, Rum Island to FL 47 2024-02-08]
Waterkeepers Florida, Santa Fe River, Rum Island to FL 47 2024-02-08

Waterkeepers Florida consists of all 15 Waterkeepers of Florida,
https://www.waterkeepersflorida.org

Waterkeeper is the generic name that includes Riverkeepers, all licensed by Waterkeeper Alliance. Suwannee Riverkeeper and St. Marys Riverkeeper are Waterkeepers of both Florida and Georgia.

Eleven WKFL members showed up (some with more than one representative), which is about the usual percentage for the annual gathering. Some of them had never seen a blue spring before. We went to Gilchrist Blue Spring, Devil’s Eye Spring, Ginnie Spring, and numerous more, between Rum Island and FL 47 Ramp in Gilchrist County Santa Fe River Park.

Actually, we were going to put in at Rum Island County Park, but it was mysteriously closed that morning. So we put in at Merrilee’s private river access.

When we got to Rum Island, the work at the park was obvious: the incredibly ostentatious orange barrier at the swimming area.

Here are some video snippets:
https://youtu.be/8lzYtVt60ZU?si=Z6Ec8LaVkmM7XmlG Continue reading

Pictures: Santa Fe River and springs, Waterkeepers Florida –Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson 2024-02-08

Update 2024-02-17: Many more Pictures: Waterkeepers Florida, Santa River and springs 2024-02-08.

The fifteen Waterkeepers of Florida gathered on the Santa Fe River Thursday to see springs, parks, and submerged aquatic vegetation.

Well, eleven of them. And we also saw a wood stork, an anhinga, a hawk, buzzards, and many turtles.

[Banners, Springs, Santa Fe River, Waterkeepers Florida 2024-02-08]
Banners, Springs, Santa Fe River, Waterkeepers Florida 2024-02-08

No manatees, though, despite the best efforts of expert guide Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of the outfitter Rum138 and Our Santa Fe River (OSFR).

We were going to put in at Rum Island, but that county park was closed, it turns out to install the ostentatious swimming barrier you see pictured. So we put in at Merrillee’s house; thanks Merrillee.

We paddled into Gilchrist Blue Spring, Ginnie Springs, and many others.

Many more pictures later; these are some Merrillee sent.

As you can tell by the banner picture I took, WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper organized this outing.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

Continue reading

Help stop FL SB 738, the environmental lawsuit penalty bill 2024-01-29

It’s hard enough to bring an environmental lawsuit in Florida already.

If these bills pass, it would be much harder.

Please ask your Florida state legislators to vote no on SB 738 and HB 789, “Providing that the prevailing party in certain actions against the Department of Environmental Protection or a water management district is entitled to reasonable costs and attorney fees”.

[Bad Bill Alert: No loser pays winners legal fees; Tell legislators Vote No on SB 738 and HB 739]
Bad Bill Alert: No loser pays winners legal fees; Tell legislators Vote No on SB 738 and HB 739

Here’s a handy form by Waterkeepers Florida for contacting your Florida statehouse members:
https://waterkeepersflorida.good.do/SB738_HB789/SB738JUD/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

FL Gov signed sprawl bill: need Rights to Clean Water 2023-06-08

Thanks to everyone who asked the Florida Governor to veto the sprawl bill, HB 359 / SB 540. But he signed it anyway, so now anyone who sues to stop a comprehensive plan change and loses has to pay the other side’s legal bills.

And the Supreme Court drastically limited the scope of the Clean Water Act in its decision in Sackett II.

Now we really need Right to Clean Water in Florida as a constitutional amendment. Please sign the petition and ask all your Florida registered voter friends and relatives to do so.
https://www.floridarighttocleanwater.org/petition

With enough signatures, the RTCW petition can get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2024, and there is nothing the legislature or governor can do to stop it.

[Right to Clean Water, FL SB 540]
Right to Clean Water, FL SB 540

Georgians, please encourage Floridians to sign the petition.

Here’s an explanation of why other means won’t work,
“Floridians who’ve been following along know that we are not going to achieve anything remotely resembling such protections through legislative action, which is why supporting this amendment is a no-brainer.”

Cheryl Lasse, Palm Beach Post, June 8, 2023, New Florida law and court ruling leave state’s waterways in peril, Continue reading

Veto Florida fertilizer preemption

Please ask the Florida Governor to veto the part of the budget bill that could end up with preemption of local fertilizer bans.

You can use this handy Waterkeepers Florida form to do that: https://waterkeepersflorida.good.do/stopthefertilizerpreemption/

[Veto fertilizer ban preemption]

Who would benefit by the bill? Phosphate mines.

As everyone knows, fertilizer nitrates leaching through the soil into our springs and rivers is the main cause of the algae blooms that crowd out native vegetation and starve fish and manatees in the Suwannee River Basin. The state’s Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) won’t solve that problem. Counties and cities can pass ordinances to address the problem, but not so easily the relevant part of this bill becomes law.

The relevant part of line item 146 of SB 2500 reads: Continue reading

Veto FL SB 540 to preserve local development responsibility

Update 2023-06-08: FL Gov signed sprawl bill: need Rights to Clean Water 2023-06-08.

Citizens and nonprofits can’t afford to sue about bad development decisions if they might lose like this.

This year’s Florida legislature “session of sprawl” passed HB 359/ SB 540 entitled “Local Government Comprehensive Plans” that would allow the winning parties to recover their attorney fees from the losing parties in legal challenges to comprehensive plans and plan amendments. Developer attorneys tend to be very expensive. You probably can’t afforsd to pay for them, and we can’t, either.

[Veto SB 540]
Veto SB 540

We need local governments to be accountable to the people.

Please ask Governor DeSantis to veto HB 359 / SB 540. You can use this handy Waterkeeper Florida form:
https://waterkeepersflorida.good.do/Development_Bills/SB540_Rules-2/

For more about Waterkeepers Florida, of which Suwannee Riverkeeper is a member, see:
https://www.waterkeepersflorida.org/

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can help with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable, water in the 10,000-square-mile Suwannee River Basin in Florida and Georgia by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/

Waterkeepers Florida in Gainesville 2023-02-03

Once a year, the Waterkeepers of Florida gather in Gainesville to attend the Public Interest Environmental Conference (PIEC) at the University of Florida Levin College of Law.

[Waterkeepers Florida at PIEC 2023-02-03]
Waterkeepers Florida at PIEC 2023-02-03

Eight out of fifteen ain’t bad. A few more attended the actual Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) meeting via teleconference.

Waterkeepers Florida asks you to ask Georgia officials to stop a proposed strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, and sits above the Floridan Aquifer from which we all drink in south Georgia and most of Florida:
https://wwals.net/?p=61437

For more about Waterkeepers Florida, see:
https://www.waterkeepersflorida.org/

I drove Continue reading

Please stop a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp that threatens both Florida and Georgia –Waterkeepers Florida

Update 2023-03-20: All nine Riverkeepers of Georgia oppose the mining permit applications by Twin Pines Minerals too near the Okefenokee Swamp 2023-03-09
Also, you can still send a comment to TwinPines.Comment@dnr.ga.gov.

Waterkeepers Florida, representing all fifteen Waterkeepers of Florida, opposes a titanium dioxide strip mine too near the Okefenokee Swamp, in a letter to Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Friday.

You can still comment to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division by 4:30 PM, Monday, March 20th, and ask Georgia legislators to pass bills protecting the Okefenokee Swamp, the Suwannee and St. Marys Rivers, and the Floridan Aquifer.

[Support the Okefenokee Swamp, not a strip mine --Waterkeepers Florida 2023-03-17]
Support the Okefenokee Swamp, not a strip mine –Waterkeepers Florida 2023-03-17


March 17, 2023

[Logo of Waterkeepers Florida]

Governor Brian Kemp
206 Washington Street
Suite 203 State Capitol
Atlanta, GA 30334
Delivered via email to: brian.kemp@georgia.gov

Re: Please stop a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp that threatens both Florida and Georgia

Dear Governor Kemp and staff,

In support of our fellow Waterkeepers’ missions to protect the St. Marys River and the Suwannee River, we, Members of Waterkeepers Florida, are again expressing serious concerns regarding the activities the proposed Twin Pines Minerals, LLC (TPM) application number SAS-2018-00554-SP-HAR will have on the Okefenokee Swamp, its river systems, and the Floridan Aquifer. Waterkeepers Florida is a regional entity composed of all 15 Waterkeeper organizations working in the State of Florida to protect and restore our water resources across over 50,000 square miles of watershed, which is home to over 15 million Floridians.

Continue reading

EPA gives Florida 12 months to fix its water quality standards 2022-12-05

This month the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required the State of Florida to update its water quality standards within twelve months, or EPA will do it instead.

This is an outcome WWALS and other Florida Waterkeepers have been pursuing since at least 2016, before we got the Suwannee Riverkeeper license and before the formation of Waterkeepers Florida.

[Determination, Map]
Determination, Map

Douglas Soule and James Call, Tallahassee Democrat, December 5, 2022 (updated December 7, 2022), EPA: Florida must change water quality standards to protect citizens’ health

TALLAHASSEE — The United States Environmental Protection Agency has determined that Florida’s antiquated water quality standards do not go far enough in protecting its citizens — particularly those who consume fish — from pollutants and adverse health effects.

Continue reading

Report chemical constituents for forensic PFAS source identification –WWALS to U.S. EPA 2021-09-27

We requested much more labeling of chemical constituents of PFAS “forever chemicals”, to enable tracking PFAS contamination to its sources, when U.S. EPA held a public comment period about a PFAS rule.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution brought this problem to our attention back in 2018, due to PFAS contamination from all three Air Force bases in Georgia, plus it turns out the Florida Fire College in Ocala. There are probably many more sources, including biosolids dried out from human wastes and used as fertilizer.

[Map, Letter]
Map, Letter

WWALS letter to EPA

See also the PDF.

The WWALS letter references a St. Johns Riverkeeper letter, co-signed by Waterkeepers Florida (including Suwannee Riverkeeper). PDF. Continue reading