Monthly Archives: August 2018

Big Georgia Wastewater Permits in the Suwannee River Basin

Schedules of testing, with permissable levels: these are in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater permits, so we need to see those permits. You’d think they’d be on the EPA or GA-EPD website, but….

The U.S. EPA has delegated NPDES permitting to Georgia. You can get draft wastewater permits right off the GA-EPD website, but to get the actual current approved permits, you must get GA-EPD to send them to you. I found this out from Audra Dickson, Wastewater Regulatory Program Manager. I asked her for permits for half a dozen cities and one county, and the next day Alyssa Thomson, Environmental Specialist, Wastewater Regulatory Program, Municipal Permitting Unit, sent them via email.

They’re on the WWALS website now.

Instream Monitoring Requirements, Valdosta Mud Creek WPCP
Instream Monitoring Requirements, Valdosta Mud Creek WPCP

Why this list? Continue reading

Alapaha Quest, Naylor Boat Ramp @ US 84, 2018-09-15

Update 2019-09-14: We’ve moved downstream, to put in at Naylor Boat Ramp and take out at Mayday Landing. This section does have some rough rocky spots with rapids for a short distance. The takeout at Mayday is a little difficult due to soft sand to climb up to the parking area. Bring plenty of water to drink and food for the day. Bring a PFD to wear. Plan to arrive early enough to unload gear and begin the shuttle to the take out.

Experience the wilderness of the Alapaha River Water Trail. The water is barely above our recommended low, so bring a rope in case we have to drag boats.

When: 8 AM, September 15, 2018

Put In: Naylor Boat Ramp @ GA 84, 6955 US 84 E, Naylor, GA 31641. Lowndes County hasn’t actually built the boat ramp yet, but they have bought the park and we can put in there, just west of the Alapaha River off of the north side of US 84.

GPS: 30.92507, -83.03867

Take Out: Mayday Landing @ Howell Road, 749 Howell Road, Stockton, GA 31649, in Echols County. We will all help each other drag boats up the steep sand slope.

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. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

With trash can Gretchen asked for, 2018:05:16 11:10:37,, Beach
Naylor Boat Ramp beach with trash can Gretchen asked for, 2018-06-16.

Continue reading

Valdosta Consent Order from GA EPD 2013-09-23

Due to tens of millions of dollars spent by Valdosta, we don’t see spills of tens of millions of gallons anymore. The most obvious Valdosta Sanitary System Improvement is the new, uphill, out of the flood plain, Withlacoochee Wasterwater Treatment Plant, pictured here on Scott Fowler’s office wall at Valdosta Utilities:

Withlacoochee WPCP 2016, Wastewater Plants
Withlacoochee WPCP 2016

The old, now-closed, Withlacoochee WTP was the plant that had the biggest problems back in 2009 and 2013. As found on the City of Valdosta website, the 23 September 2013 Valdosta Consent Order from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division is now also on WWALS website, including I made a web version, from which I extracted the paragraphs quoted below.

This was the original problem: Continue reading

Paddle Georgia discovers the Withlacoochee River

Would you like to paddle the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers for a week in June 2019 with 300 of your closest friends? Our rivers topped Paddle Georgia’s poll of six destinations. Joe Cook, Mr. Paddle Georgia, called me back in July about this possibility. That’s why on July 5, 2018, I blogged A week on the Withlacoochee River in June?

Shoals on the Withlacoochee River
Paddle Georgia discovering the Withlacoochee River has rapids.

It turns out there was a story in the Continue reading

Valdosta FOG 2018-08-08

Many sewer spills tend to be small, many caused by fats, oils, or greases (FOG) that people should not be pouring down the drain anyway. On August 8, 2018, I visited Scott Fowler, Environmental Manager, Valdosta Utilities. Joseph Gangler, who handles the city’s FOG program, posed somewhat reluctantly with the city’s new FOG pamphlets.

Joseph Gangler, FOG Prevention Program Technician, FOG

Valdosta has started a YouTube video program called Keeping You Informed (KIY), which includes FOG Program KYI, Metro 17 Valdosta Production, 27 August 2018, in which FOG Prevention Program Technician Joseph Gangler shows you what it’s about. Continue reading

Florida vote 2018-08-28

Floridians, please get out and vote today, and in November.

We are fortunate here in the Suwannee River Basin. We don’t have cyanobacteria blooming from glyphosate in our rivers with dead fish stinking tens of miles inland.

But we do have plenty of environmental problems. When you vote in the primary today (if you haven’t already voted early), and as you vote in the general election in November, you may want to ask yourself about each candidate, from city council to County Commissioner to school board to statehouse to statewide official to governor, and don’t forget judges:

Florida vote

  • Do they support banning fracking?
  • Do they oppose more phosphate mines?
  • Will they help stop fertilizer leaching into our springs and rivers, including getting financial and other support for the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs)?
  • Will they help us all find out how E. coli and fecal coliform are getting into our rivers and wells, and from where, by assisting in water quality monitoring, and will they then do something about it?
  • Will they hold accountable those who produced coal ash and get them to dispose of it responsibly?
  • Will they oppose fossil fuel pipelines, and do something about the safety of those that exist?
  • Will they help rein in the rogue agency FERC, including about oversight of liquid natural gas (LNG) export?
  • Will they help the Sunshine State get on with solar power, so that nobody has to be without power for weeks after a hurricane, and we can shut down more fossil fuel power plants and close some pipelines?

These are just some of the issues WWALS deals with all the time. You don’t have to know about all these issues; every one of them is important. You may have other environmental issues.

If you don’t know how the candidates stand on these issues, maybe you’d like to ask them before November. Still, some of them must have stated positions before the primary today.

Sure, the economy matters, but how many jobs do polluted springs and rivers bring? Do people come to Florida to smell rotting fish from their vacation or permanent homes? There is no economy without an environment, and water is the basis of it all, including public health.

Seven of us Waterkeepers of Florida met with FDEP last month:

…to express serious concern and a sense of urgency to protect and restore Florida’s rivers, coast, bays, estuaries, lakes, springs, and aquifer.

As demonstrated by Hurricane Irma, major storms deteriorate water quality, threaten human health, and undermine Florida’s economy. Absent more proactive action and investment in becoming more resilient, water quality protection, and adaptation efforts, Florida’s economy, environment, and public health will suffer.

We should all care about what is happening in south Florida. Obviously because those are people just like us who live there, not to mention the wildlife and the rest of the ecology, and what happens there affects the economy of the rest of Florida and the nation.

After Hurricane Irma, Lowndes County, Georgia, where I live, gained 100 new residents from Florida. (That’s right: Suwannee Riverkeeper lives in Georgia. Rivers can’t read; they don’t know somebody drew a state line on a map.) If the south Florida situation continues or gets worse, people will move north. Many of them will move to north Florida or south Georgia, further affecting our waters.

So don’t forget about candidates:

  • Do they support stopping the destruction of south Florida’s lakes, rivers, and coasts by fertilizer and pesticides from big agriculture and lawns?

As an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity, WWALS cannot support or oppose any specific candidate for office. But we can bring issues to your attention.

And we can say, please go vote, today and in November!

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Video: Emmett Carlisle singing Suwannee Harmmony at SuwRK Songwriting Contest

Emmett Carlisle, from Gainesville, Florida, just outside the Suwannee River Basin, sang “Suwannee Harmony,” and won a prize for Best Florida Folk, at the First Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, Saturday, June 23, 2018, at the Salty Snapper, Valdosta, GA.

Emmett Carlisle
Emmett Carlisle (Bret Wagenhorst)

As he sang, “just like the river, together we flow.”

Here’s the video: Continue reading

Spectra responds in pipeline certificate rulemaking 2018-08-24

As we’ve seen so often in the Sabal Trail docket, Spectra seems to be acting in place of FERC, responding yesterday to thousands of comments on FERC’s certificate rulemaking.

Spectra’s bottom line: a pipeline company’s bottom line matters more than the Fifth Amendment due process, or water, air, or safety. See page 25:

Contrary to some commenters’ arguments, the Commission’s public interest determinations are not rendered insufficient under the Fifth Amendment public use requirement because the Commission considers precedent agreements among applicants and affiliates to be evidence of public benefits.

Spectra repeatedly argues that FERC does not have authority to consider hardly anything other than whether the pipeline company has customers, yet FERC has authority to give eminent domain to private corporations and to let them gouge through our lands and under our rivers without local agreement or payment first.

Page 9: Tolling Orders, Pages

In this election year, you can ask every candidate for statehouse or Congress whether they support Continue reading

Picture: WWALS @ VSU The Happening 2018-08-23

Erica and I were so busy this is the only picture we took at The Happening at VSU yesterday afternoon.

Suwannee Riverkeeper at The Happening, VSU, Erica took this

Many students came by, and a surprising number of them took intern flyers. We shall see how many of them apply.

We have a sheet full of Continue reading

Video: Valdosta explains Mud Creek WTP spill 2018-08-21

Kenneth Lowe, Assistant Plant Superintendent of the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, explained that plant’s that recent spill to the organizational meeting of the WWALS Water Quality Testing Committee.

Tom Potter, Kenneth Lowe, Ronnie Thomas, Erica McLelland, Shirley Kokidko, student, Effluents
Tom Potter, Kenneth Lowe, Ronnie Thomas, Erica McLelland, Shirley Kokidko, student

He apologized profusely several times for the spill. Continue reading