Deadline Extended to September 14 on mining proposal near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-19

I asked the Charlton County Commission just yesterday to ask the Corps for an extension, and numerous other people and organizations have done so. The Corps has already responded.

Emily Jones, Georgia Public Broadcasting, 19 July 2019, Army Corps Extends Comment Deadline On Mining Near Okefenokee,

The Army Corps of Engineers is extending the deadline for public comments on a proposal to mine for minerals near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.

The new deadline is September 12, an additional 30 days from the original deadline of August 13.

Environmental groups were calling for the deadline extension.

Since there’s nothing on the Corps’ Public Notices website about that, I asked her how she knew. She said Senior USACE Public Affairs Officer Billy Birdwell, 912-652-5014. So I called him.

Billy Birdwell received a Certificate of Appreciation
Photo: USACE. Continue reading

Georgia PSC again increases solar power by Georgia Power 2019-07-16

The PSC required more than Georgia Power and Southern Company requested, although they still do not seem to understand that solar power is growing exponentially like compound interest.

[Vote]
See Stephen Fowler, GPB, July 16, 2019, Public Service Commission Adds More Solar To Georgia Power’s Energy Plan.

In 2013 Georgia only had some nominal solar energy online, less than 300 megawatts. In the 2013 IRP, the Commission added 525 megawatts of solar energy. Three years later, in the 2016 IRP, another 1,600 megawatts were added. By the end of 2019, Georgia should have a total of 2,400 megawatts of solar and other renewable energy on the grid. The 2,210 megawatts approved Tuesday will nearly double Georgia’s level of renewable energy by the end of 2022.

Doubling every two years is merely not falling farther behind. And what about after 2022? What’s the plan for more than doubling again by 2024, etc.? WWALS asked for Continue reading

Complete permit application, Twin Pines Minerals 2019-07-17

The complete 565-page permit application by Twin Pines Minerals, SAS-2018-00554, is now on the WWALS website.

News about it is all over North America, with more coming out daily.

You can go ahead and send in comments to the Army Corps of Engineers or to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

[Twin-Pines-Individual-Permit-Application--complete-0006]
Twin-Pines-Individual-Permit-Application–complete-0006

You can retrieve the complete application from Continue reading

Waste not, want not -John S. Quarterman, VDT 2019-07-14

Some of what I said:

Much of what Quarterman and the watershed coalition does is educate people who use the Floridan aquifer, he said.

It’s important to get people out on the water to show them the importance of the natural resource, but since most of the drinking water is more than 400 feet below them, it’s hard to make people appreciate the resource, he said.

“We want to be careful about using up the aquifer,” Quarterman said. “The water level goes down each year, and each year we have to dig deeper to get to the water.”

[VDT Front page, Sunday, July 14, 2019]
Front page, Sunday, July 14, 2019, Valdosta Daily Times
Some of you may recognize the picture, which shows the boom Sabal Trail put in the Withlacoochee River west of Valdosta after their pilot hole leaked drilling fluid up into the river.

Thomas Lynn, Valdosta Daily Times, 14 July 2019, Waste not, want not: Water preservation not a priority,

VALDOSTA — Water is a finite resource. Continue reading

GPB on mining proposal near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-15

My vegetable buyer from St. Mary’s, GA, said “I heard you on the radio this morning.” Notice the map Georgia Public Broadcasting posted says “Phase I” in U.S Army Corps of Engineers Application SAS-2018-00554. The company actually owns land northwards all the way up next to the swamp.

[Phase I location Map]
Phase I location Map

Emily Jones, GPB Radio News, 15 July 2019, Mining Proposed Near Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge,

An Alabama company wants to mine for heavy minerals near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Georgia.

The proposal from Twin Pines Minerals called for Continue reading

Deadline Extended for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Hahira, Georgia, July 15, 2019 — “Last year I got in through the extension,” said last year’s winner Laura D’Alisera, because someone “emailed the songwriting community and l had my song 95% in place.” So the Contest Committee has voted to extend the deadline a week, to this Friday, July 19, 2019! “Come on songwriters, send in your song by Friday,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We already have enough songs for the contest, but we want yours, too! Everyone else, you can get some tickets and come and listen!”

[MC, Headliners, Judges, Sponsors]
MC, Headliners, Judges, Sponsors

About the Second Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest:

Tickets are $10 online or $12 at the door. Or $150 per eight-seat VIP table right in front of the stage. Everything about the contest is online here:

http://www.wwals.net/pictures/2019-08-24–suwannee-riverkeeper-songwriting-contest/

Sponsoring the contest is a great opportunity Continue reading

Titanium mine near Okefenokee NWR 2019-07-12

Update 2019-07-18: The complete application is now on the WWALS website; you can comment now.

Friday, July 12, 2019, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers published a Public Notice for Application SAS-2018-00554 for a titanium mine southeast of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). Thursday I attended a meeting at the Okefenokee NWR near Folkston about that, and I met with agents of the miners back in April. The application is about the little purple area on this map they showed us at the end of April:

[Context]
Context

But that’s not the whole story; see below. Today this mine proposal is on the agenda for the WWALS board meeting.

Here are some things the application doesn’t tell you: Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta and Florida Counties about sewage 2019-07-10

Congenial yet sometimes testy, the Florida counties meeting Valdosta about sewage again last night.

The Valdosta catch basin many Floridians thought would be finished by now? Probably by December.

That report the Utilities Manager last time said explained why 8 or 10 million gallons was big enough for a catch basin? No, it doesn’t explain that. Fortunately, Georgia EPD wants to know how many gallons will be needed for how much rain, and apparently won’t issue a permit for the catch basin until there are answers, so maybe we’ll finally find out.

GA-EPD also wanted to know what if the catch basin fills up? Valdosta’s answer: tanker trucks to ship the sewage from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Or the other direction, if needed. That sounds like a fine idea. Although it doesn’t address the question of what if the heavy rains fall directly on Valdosta and both WTPs fill up.

Meanwhile, the catch basin is just one of a combination of fixes, mostly intended to alleviate infiltration of stormwater into the sewer system, and about 25% of those are done, says Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber.

Will all these projects be finished this year? No.

Floridians offer to get national elected officials to help.

Floridians also emphasized Ecotourism, and asked me to talk about the 350 people who just came through on Paddle Georgia (#PaddleGA2019), the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Florida to Georgia and back, and the proposed River Camp at the Little River Confluence west of Valdosta, like the ones on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Valdosta Mayor John Gayle wrote down the date of the WWALS Boomerang (October 26th), and afterwards both Hamilton and Madison Counties promised to help.

Tom Mirti of SRWMD described Florida water quality testing, but didn’t mention that FDEP’s monthly testing isn’t made public until four months later. He did mention that FDEP is now testing for sucralose. Merrillee Malwwitz-Jipson, who requested that, was sitting right there. Thanks to her and Jim Tatum for coming from Florida to this meeting.

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta was still testing at the state line, which caused me to ask why I didn’t get any results for those locations this year in response to open records requests, then? Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse said that was because they haven’t actually tested at the state line this year. He also complained that he had staff working 100 hours a week. Which makes me wonder whether the city of Valdosta is really giving him what he needs, or whether he hasn’t asked for everything he needs.

Anyway, people were rightly impressed with how much Valdosta has done and with their current plans. However, there is still room for improvement.

Below are Continue reading

Agenda: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage 2019-07-10

Here’s the agenda for tonight’s Special Called Meeting of the Valdosta City Council, with business of Valdosta Utilities presenting to the dozen Florida counties. You may wonder why you haven’t seen this City Council meeting on Valdosta’s website or in the Valdosta Daily Times. Well, Georgia Open Meetings law only requires one notice on the front of the venue and a notice to the newspaper of record 24 hours in advance.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook

[071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001]
071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001
PDF

Maybe Valdosta should consider that elected official embarassment does not outweigh informing the public.

Thanks to Valdosta City Clerk Teresa Bolden for the agenda. See also Continue reading

WCTV covers Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2019-07-05

Send in your song by this Friday!

[Send in your Songs]
Send in your Songs

Or just get your tickets and come listen in August.

http://www.wwals.net/pictures/2019-08-24–suwannee-riverkeeper-songwriting-contest/

Emma Wheeler, WCTV, 5 July 2019, Submissions open for Suwannee Riverkeeper songwriting contest,

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) — The Suwannee Riverkeeper is sparking interest in our waterways through the power of song.

The Suwannee Riverkeeper is looking for submissions for its second annual songwriting contest.

Participants are asked to write Continue reading