Tag Archives: watershed

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

Banks Lake Full Buck Moon Paddle, 2021-07-23

Leisurely Sunset and Full Moon Paddle, with bats.

When: Gather 7:35 PM, launch 8:05 PM, moonrise 8:40 PM, sunset 8:34 PM, end 9:30 PM, Friday, July 23, 2021

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County, on the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT).

GPS: 31.034824, -83.096725

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Lights: You must have a light for your boat or some type of light to have on yourself (glow sticks work well, or head lamp, flashlight, etc.) so other boaters can see you in the dark. It will be totally dark after sunset. You must wear a PFD. A whistle is not required, but it’s a good idea in the dark. Mosquitoes can be bad at dusk so come prepared.

Boats: Kayaks are available to borrow but please let us know at least 2 days prior to the event. Bring your own if you have it. Thanks to Banks Lake Outdoors for free boat rental for these WWALS Full Moon Paddles.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net/outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Cypress boats]
Bobby McKenzie: Cypress boats

2020-08-03. Continue reading

Telford Springs: Hal Adams Bridge to Hardenbergh Boat Ramp, Suwannee River, 2021-09-18

Leisurely paddle down the Suwannee River visiting Telford Springs, Peacock Slough River Camp, as well as Cow and Running Springs for some cooling off swim time.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10 AM, end 3 PM, Saturday, September 18, 2021

Put In: Hal W. Adams Bridge Ramp. From Mayo, travel north on SR 51 to the river and the ramp is on the right, in Lafayette County.

GPS: 30.098833, -83.171

Take Out: Hardenbergh Ramp

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat, paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. You can pay the $10 at the outing, or online:
https://wwals.net//donations/#outings

We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!
https://wwals.net/donations/#join

Event: facebook, meetup

[Paddle Map: WWALS SRWT]
Paddle Map: WWALS map of Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (SRWT)

Continue reading

Bill Gates, farms, rivers, springs

The NBC News story has legs.

Rebecca Heilweil, Vox, 11 June 2021, The controversy over Bill Gates becoming the largest private farmland owner in the US: People are drawing connections between Gates’s vast farmlands and climate change advocacy.

One Georgia farmer and environmental advocate, John Quarterman, told NBC that while he expected that Gates would encourage more sustainable practices after buying farmland nearby, his acquisition of that land didn’t change much. And the National Farmers Union has suggested that the growing number of non-farmer owners like Gates buying up farmland — and renting it out — could lead to practices that hurt the environment: Short-term farmers who rent land are less likely to take long-term conservation steps, the organization argues, and non-farmer owners don’t have the experience to “understand the importance of protecting natural resources.”

[Photo: Chris Mericle, Dust storm in Hamilton County, Florida, March, 2014, Suwannee Riverkeeper by NBC News, June, 2021]
Photo: Chris Mericle, Dust storm in Hamilton County, Florida, March, 2014, Suwannee Riverkeeper by NBC News, June, 2021

The Vox story includes the Leading Harvest greenwashing of Gates’ tinkering around the edges, but goes harder on this:

But whatever Gates might wish, many observers can’t quite separate the two things. For them, Bill Gates the environmentalist is also Bill Gates the commercial farmland owner, and they think the two roles are connected even if Gates doesn’t consider them to be.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

Right to Clean Water, and four more Florida ballot initiatives 2021-05-20

Water as a human right will be on the Florida statewide ballot this fall, if enough Floridians sign the petition.

Plus wetlands protection, iconic species protection including the manatee, a ban on new or expanded toll roads, and a ban on captive wildlife hunting. As the website FL5.ORG says: Keep Florida Alive, Sign all 5.

For each petition, that’s 222,898 signatures to get judicial and financial review, and 891,589 to get it on the ballot.

It’s doable: there are more than 21 million Floridians.

[Sign all 5: Right to Clean Water, Ban new toll roads, and more]
Sign all 5: Right to Clean Water, Ban new toll roads, and more

FLORIDA RIGHT TO CLEAN WATER

This one is the key for the work of Suwannee Riverkeeper. It would make it a lot easier to stop pipelines, mines, and Nestlé and other water withdrawal boondoogles.

CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FULL TEXT 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

Not-so-dry Alapaha River to Suwannee River –Bobby McKenzie 2021-05-07

WWALS members Bobby McKenzie and Russell Allen McBride took advantage of water in the usually-dry lower Alapaha River to paddle from Sasser Landing to the Suwannee River and Gibson Park Boat Ramp.

[Sasser Landing, sun tree, Jennings Bluff Landing, US 41 Alapaha River Landing, twisted tree, Gibson Park Boat Ramp]
Sasser Landing, sun tree, Jennings Bluff Landing, US 41 Alapaha River Landing, twisted tree, Gibson Park Boat Ramp

Along the way, they saw the new still-steep stairs at Jennings Bluff Launch and discovered a US 41 Alapaha River Landing.

These are all on the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT). Continue reading

Valdosta FOG Manhole sewage spill 2021-04-26

2021-05-11: two weeks later, Valdosta’s FOG spill shows up on GA-EPD’s Sewage Spills Report, for two days earlier than in Valdosta’s press release.

This Valdosta sewage spill on Saturday was very small, mostly vacuumed up by the city, and unlikely to get the 1.89 miles down Onemile Branch to Sugar Creek, and the 1.85 miles farther to the Withlacoochee River. I think we can all agree that nobody wants sewage spills caused by Fats, Oils, or Greases. Also don’t dump your face masks into storm drains or waterways.

[FOG in manhole, 1400 Williams Street spill site, creeks to Withlacoochee River]
FOG in manhole, 1400 Williams Street spill site, creeks to Withlacoochee River

Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson prepended this note with the picture you see below: “It is important to note that while this did happen over the weekend, it was not a weather related incident. For our media partners, I am attaching an example of a previous grease blockage in our system so that you can get a visual of how grease build up can block pipes, ultimately leading to a manhole overflow.”

Continue reading

Videos: BIG Little River Paddle Race, Wes James, WAAC 92.9 FM 2021-04-20

Update 2021-04-25: BIG Little River Paddle Race is cancelled due to weather.

Postponed due to weather to 2PM, Sunday, April 25, 2021: BIG Little River Paddle Race.

Wes James asked some questions I hadn’t thought of about the BIG Little River Paddle Race last night on WAAC 92.9 FM radio, about boat size, for example.

Remember to get your tickets, and if you want to you can rent a boat, both online in advance:
https://wwals.net/pictures/2021-04-24–blrpr

We are watching the weather, as discussed in the first video. While today the prediction is for thunderstorms Saturday, it’s also for those not starting until afternoon, when everybody will be off the river anyway, in which case no problem. Also, we’ve frequently seen such predictions move a day or so later, so we shall see. So far, so good.

Agenda: WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting 2021-04-18

Here is the agenda for the WWALS Quarterly Board Meeting.

[Agenda]
Agenda
PDF: just agenda or agenda with reports.

The public is invited. We will be discussing the BIG Little River Paddle Race, Songwriting Contest, cleanups, outings, water quality testing, opposition to mines, water withdrawals, coal ash, and pellet plants, promotion of solar power, and of course finances.

That’s for the entire 10,000 square mile Suwannee River Basin, in Georgia and Florida, including the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, Little times two, New times two, Santa Fe, and Suwannee Rivers, and all their creeks, springs, sinks, ponds, and swamps, such as Grand Bay, Banks Lake and the Okefenokee Swamp.

We will be meeting online by zoom, so you don’t even have to go anywhere.

When: 2-4 PM, Sunday, April 18, 2021

Where: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89308028204?pwd=VmwyMzVTMVR6WGJxbUFUSlFXWFRWQT09
ZOOM Meeting ID: 893 0802 8204 Password: 392346
One tap mobile: +19294362866,,89308028204#,,,,,,0#,,392346#
Dial In: +1 929 436 2866 Meeting ID: 893 0802 8204 Meeting Password: 392346

Event: facebook

Much of the work of WWALS is done by committees of members, and many of them have some good results to report. If you’d like to join a committee, please fill out the application.

[WWALS Logo]
WWALS Logo

The board itself does most of its business online via email, but it’s good to have these gatherings once a quarter.

The current board members, officers, and staff are listed on the Board web page.

Agenda

PDF: just agenda or agenda with reports. Continue reading