Five Finalists Chosen for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

Five Finalists Chosen for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Hahira, Georgia, August 7, 2020 — The organizing committee has reviewed the songs received, and chosen five finalists, for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest:

  • Brian Barker, from Live Oak, FL, with a Folk Rock song, “The River.”
  • Ronni Dillon, from Waycross, GA, with a Folk-Alternative song, “Okefenokee Memory.”
  • Sweet William Billy Ennis, from Palatka, FL, with a Folk song, “Choctaw Spirits of the Suwannee.”
  • Kathy Lou Gilman, from Kingsland, GA, with an American Music Revival song, “The River Song (My love, my Suwannee).”
  • Scott Perkins, from Smyrna, GA, with a Southern Boogie song, “Hoochie-Coochie for the Withlacoochee.”

Our headliner, Dirty Bird and the Flu, will play first, and then each of the three judges will play a song. The finalists will play, and the judges will select winners of the $300 First Prize, the $50 prize for best song from within the Suwannee River Basin, the $50 prize for best song from outside, and plaques for each musical genre.

“We are pleased to get all this far-flung interest by songwriters,” said WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee Chair Tom H. Johnson, Jr., who was also recently elected president of WWALS.

“The judges are equally far-flung,” said Committee member Laura D’Alisera, who won the contest its first year. “Emmy Law is from Nashville, Tennessee, Cindy Bear is from Jacksonville, Florida, and J.J. Rolle is from Valdosta, Georgia.”

“We invite everyone local and far to come listen,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We will also be livestreaming to online ticket holders.”

Tickets to listen are on sale now, $10 online, or $12 at the door (children under 12 free).
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/third-annual-suwannee-riverkeeper-songwriting-contest-finals-tickets-110284875030

For VIP tables in front of the stage, contact song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

Scott James, of 92.1 FM Radio, will be the M.C. at the Contest Finals. They will be from 7-10 PM on Saturday, August 22, 2020, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia 31601, just north of the Annette Howell Turner Center for the Arts. Rico’s Tacos will provide food, and the Pour House will provide drinks. There will be a silent auction and kayak raffle tickets will be available.

Our top-tier sponsor, Georgia Beer Company, will say a few words, as will our host, the Turner Arts Center, and several WWALS people will speak about programs, projects, stewardship, and advocacy. Each elected official present will get three minutes to speak on any subject; just remember it’s a festival.

[Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest]
Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

Due to the virus pandemic situation and executive orders by the Georgia Governor, we will be requiring all attendees to maintain physical distancing, except with those in their party, and we will be requiring all to wear masks when near others not in their party.

Everything else about the Songwriting Contest is here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-08-22–songwriting/

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition
song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
850-290-2350
229-242-0102
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

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GA 133 Friday bad again? But good everywhere else, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06

The good news: all green for boating, fishing, swimming, etc. from Cook County Boat Ramp on the Little River @ GA 76 and on the Withlacoochee River from US 41 through the GA-FL line past Madison Blue Spring. Thanks to Madison Health and the City of Valdosta for testing, and to WWALS testers Trudy and Conn Cole for finding zero E. coli on the Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp).

The bad news: last Friday, again there was massive fecal bacterial contamination in the Withlacoochee River @ GA 133, far higher than the 410 cfu/100 mL single-test limit and twice the 1,000 alert limit. See also What do these numbers mean?.

The better news: a usually reliable source tells me that GA-EPD has found the culprit and is dealing with it. And the culprit was not governmental; it was a private company. More on that when I know more.

[Map: All green on Swim Guide]
Map: All green on Swim Guide.

It’s really strange that such a high concentration of fecal bacteria at GA 133 did not show up downstream. Where did it come from? It’s not runoff: there was no rain, except way up at Skipper Bridge, which should have showed runoff contamination at US 41 before GA 133 if that was the source.

It’s not Valdosta or Lowndes County: they had no spills.

It’s almost like somebody dumped some septic tank or RV liquids into the river. Continue reading

Nestle water withdrawal on SRWMD agenda; staff in favor 2020-08-11

Nestlé water withdrawal from Ginnie Springs next to the Santa Fe River is back on the SRWMD agenda for Tuesday morning, with staff in favor this time. Please speak up now!

[Seven Springs Water Company Project, 2-041-218202-3, August 2020]
Seven Springs Water Company Project, 2-041-218202-3, August 2020
PDF

That’s 9AM, Tuesday, August 11, 2020, online only; see below for how. As near as I can tell, the main difference is the withdrawal request is reduced by 14.58% from 1.1520 million gallons/day to 0.9840 MGD. I still don’t see why a Swiss company should profit from sucking up Floridan Aquifer water to sell us back plastic bottles that we then have to clean up from springs and rivers.

If you don’t think a 14.58% reduction is enough, you can still Continue reading

Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin 2020-08-02

People mostly don’t know about all the additional testing, nor the cows, nor the new Consent Order on Valdosta.

Even if you’ve been following the Withlacoochee River water quality situation, some of what has happened and has been discovered is probably not obvious. Here is an attempt to describe the current situation, many of the people and organizations involved, and some things you can do to help. See also printable PDF.

[Page 01]

August 2, 2020

To: Potential Partners in helping clean up the Withlacoochee River

Re: Current Situation of Water Quality Testing, Suwannee River Basin

Dear Potential Partner,

Trudy Cole wrote about water quality testing for WWALS:

“We do this so not just our grandchildren,
but your grandchildren have clean water to drink, fish, and swim in.

“Clean water, it’s not just important,
it is vital.”

We’ve never found anyone who wants to swim, boat, or fish in dirty water, much less drink it. Continue reading

Florida clean? Withlacoochee River 2020-07-30

Update 2020-08-07: GA 133 Friday bad again? But good everywhere else, Withlacoochee River 2020-08-06.

Where is that E. coli going once it crosses the state line on the Withlacoochee River?

We don’t know, but at 4:39 PM Friday FDEP updated its online spreadsheet to contain very good results for Thursday at GA 31 (State Line), CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), and FL 6 (just above Madison Blue Spring).

[Swim Guide green for Florida]
Swim Guide green for Florida

Accordingly, we have set all the Florida “beaches” green on Swim Guide.

Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps remain red.

[How green in Florida?]
How green in Florida?
For the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida results, and further context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Thanks to Madison Health for continuing to test downstream in Florida.

What’s happening farther downstream on the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers? We don’t know: nobody is testing down there.

Floridians: maybe you’d like to ask your statehouse elected officials to fund FDEP to implement regular river testing all the way from the state line to the Gulf. If Valdosta can do it, the great state of Florida can do it. For that matter, FDEP told us last November that they already had money for that and were allocating it regionally. Maybe you’d like to ask FDEP to allocate some of it to the Suwannee River Basin.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Just when you think it’s safe, nope, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29

Update 2020-08-01: Florida clean? Withlacoochee River 2020-07-30.

Subtitle: lack of data doesn’t mean good water quality.

Valdosta finally came through with downstream results for Friday, Monday, and Wednesday, at 1:21 PM today, and they ain’t pretty.

[Map: Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin in Swim Guide]
Map: Bad Knights Ferry and Nankin in Swim Guide

Valdosta got results way above the 1,000 cfu/100 mL E. coli alert level at Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps Friday, at Nankin and State Line Boat Ramps Monday, and again at Nankin on Wednesday, with a too-high single-sample count of 510 at Knights Ferry for Wednesday. See What do these numbers mean?

So we have set Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps red in Swim Guide.

We can’t set State Line Boat Ramp red because, even though that contamination has probably reached there by now, we have no data for yesterday or today. Similarly, we can’t set anything new for Florida stations, because we have no Florida data since Tuesday a week ago.

Floridians: maybe you’d like to ask your statehouse elected officials to fund FDEP to implement regular river testing all the way from the state line to the Gulf. If Valdosta can do it, the great state of Florida can do it. For that matter, FDEP told us last November that they already had money for that and were allocating it regionally. Maybe you’d like to ask FDEP to allocate some of it to the Suwannee River Basin.

[Bad downstream]
Bad downstream
For the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of results from Georgia and Florida, as well as other context, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Valdosta’s Friday 3,900 E. coli for Okapilco Creek @ US 84 shows something did wash down Okapilco Creek from the upstream rains. That testing station is upstream from where Crooked Creek joins Okapilco, so that E. coli did not come from Crooked Creek. And maybe some of this downstream contamination did come down from GA 133 over the weekend.

[Map: Devane Road to State Line]
Map: Devane Road to State Line, in the WWALS map of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT).

You may wonder: how can the WWALS Wednesday results for Knights Ferry and State Line Boat Ramps be so different from Valdosta’s results? Usually, because Continue reading

Still green to go, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29

Update 2020-07-31: Just when you think it’s safe, nope, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29. Continue reading

Twomile Branch and Withlacoochee River 2020-07-28

Update 2020-07-31: Just when you think it’s safe, nope, Withlacoochee River to GA-FL line 2020-07-29.

For Monday, July 27, 2020, Valdosta reports still slightly elevated bacterial counts at GA 133 on the Withlacoochee River, but nothing like the alert level of Friday. Yet counts at US 41 upstream and US 84 downstream remain completely normal. We can guess that rainwater coming down the Little River into the Withlacoochee diluted the contamination.

[Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River]
Towmile Branch, Sugar Creek, Withlacoochee River

We don’t know where that Friday GA 133 contamination came from. Both Valdosta and Lowndes County say they did not spill any sewage, and the state of Georgia still reports no sewage spills in the Suwannee River Basin (ditto for Florida).

[Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568]
Downstream, 16:25:10, 30.8661346, -83.3102568

I even tested Tuesday on Twomile Branch just below Joree Millpond and behind the last house on Lake Drive (thanks to the landowner). Results there were higher than are good for longterm average, but below the single test limit.

[Upstream again, 16:12:23, 30.864, -83.3158]
Upstream, Twomile Branch, Lake Drive, Valdosta, GA, 2020-07-28, 16:12:23, 30.8640000, -83.3158000

We have no Valdosta results downstream of US 84 since Wednesday a week ago, and nothing from Florida since Tuesday a week ago. Continue reading

Pot Spring still closed 2020-07-29

Still closed yesterday: land entrance to Pot Spring.

[Trucks Entering Roadway, 12:12:12, 30.4796780, -83.2201059]
Trucks Entering Roadway, 12:12:12, 30.4796780, -83.2201059

Indeed, a large truck was coming out right then. I had to move on up the road to let him out. Not carrying logs, though; seemed to be empty.

[Vehicular Traffic Prohibited, 12:15:03, 30.4795594, -83.2204892]
Vehicular Traffic Prohibited, 12:15:03, 30.4795594, -83.2204892

I didn’t feel like walking a couple of miles right then, so I turned back.

Sabal Trail Pipeline

Also on SW 28th Lane, a Sabal Trail Pipeline crossing. Continue reading

Kayak Raffle Emotion Stealth 11 with paddle 2020-12-12

Kayak raffle tickets available!

[Kayak Raffle Poster, drawing 2020-12-12]
Kayak Raffle Poster, drawing 2020-12-12
PDF

Tickets: Get tickets anytime online, or at a WWALS paddle outing, or from a WWALS board member or staff, or at a WWALS festival booth (whenever festivals start happening again).
Suggested Donation $5.00 for one ticket; $20.00 for five tickets

Kayak Raffle Tickets

Drawing: December 12, 2020; you do not have to be present to win.

What: Emotion Stealth 11 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Carlisle Paddle, $600.00 value

Why: Support WWALS Advocacy and programs (water trails, water quality testing, Troupville River Camp, etc.), events (paddle races, songwriting contest, light parade), and outings.
And you could always use another kayak.

You may wonder: Continue reading