Monthly Archives: February 2019

Second Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2019-08-24

Update 2019-04-01: Song submissions are open!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, February 27, 2019 — WWALS is pleased to announce the M.C. for the Second Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest will be well-known radio host Chris Beckham. Once again, the Contest will be at The Salty Snapper on Gornto Road in Valdosta, Georgia. This year it will be 1-5PM, Saturday, August 24, 2019. Submissions will open in April, for selection of half a dozen finalists by the Contest Committee, and judging of the finalists by three judges at the Contest.

Emmett Carlisle performing at the 2018 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest
Emmett Carlisle performing at the 2018 Contest.

“August is an excellent month for this Contest, because we have inside air conditioning, and there are no competing outdoor music events in August,” said Laura D’Alisera, last year’s winner, and this year a member of the Contest Committee.

“The Salty Snapper is great for music: cozy but lots of space. Thanks to manager Justin Stephens for his enthusiastic support,” said Scotti Jay, Chair of the WWALS Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest Committee.

“Everybody had a fine time last year, and we have six more songs about the Suwannee River, or its tributaries the Withlacoochee, Little, and Alapaha. Move over Stephen C. Foster!” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Submissions can be songs about Continue reading

Florida buys Hardee Spring on the Withlacoochee River

Florida bought second magnitude Hardee Spring, with its karst window and 1.6 miles of Withlacoochee River frontage!

Map: River Error Farms Inc., Hardee Spring, Hamilton County, FL
Map from SRWMD PARCEL ASSESSMENT SUMMARY.

The new Florida state administration has done some surprising things, such as revoking dozens of appointments by the previous governor, but this one is really surprising. I’m pretty sure I’ve recommended this purchase to the Suwannee River Water Management (SRWMD) Board. SRWMD had written up a property assessment on it years ago, but I thought the asking price of $8.5 million for River Error Farm was prohibitive. Apparently the state got Hardee Spring for less than a quarter of that price.

DeSantis, Florida Cabinet approve $2.54 million in Florida Forever land acquisition, Samantha J. Gross, Tampa Bay Times, 26 February 2019,

Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state Cabinet Tuesday voted to spend Continue reading

Spring Equinox Full Moon Paddle, Banks Lake, 2019-03-20

Join us for the Spring Equinox Full Moon paddle at Banks Lake. The moon will rise at 7:32 p.m. so come early enough to prep your boat so that we are on the lake by 7 p.m. The sun goes down a few minutes after the moon rises so we have the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful sunset and moon rise. We will enjoy the view while leisurly paddling through the cypress trees before it gets dark while we look for birds, alligators and bats.

When: Gather 6:30 PM, Launch 7:00 PM, Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Put In: Banks Lake Boat Ramp, 307 Georgia 122, Lakeland, GA 31635, in Lanier County.

GPS: 31.034824, -83.096725

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

Bring: the a light for your boat or some type of light to have on yourself (glow stick, head lamp, or flashlight), and bring a rope for your boat. You must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). A whistle is not required, but it’s a good idea in the dark. Dress for cold weather, the temperature drops quickly after the sun sets. 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

Full moon cypress, Banks Lake
Full moon through cypress at Banks Lake, 2017-07-08.

Continue reading

Sabal Trail Phase II: Albany and Dunnellon Compressor Stations 2019-01-17

FERC being short a Commissioner does not stop the rubberstamp machine, this time for the Albany, GA, and Dunnellon, FL, Compressor Stations, both to start construction in May 2019. Sabal Trail requested Phase II in mid-January, and FERC’s John Peconom authorized it by the end of the month.

[Project Location Map]
Project Location Map
PDF

2019-01-17 Request

Continue reading

Resolution pending by Rivers Task Force in Lake City meeting 2019-02-28

Received Thursday. The Rivers Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties will be voting next Thursday on a resolution asking the State of Florida (FDEP, SRWMD, etc.) to do something about Valdosta’s sewage spills.

[4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL]
4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL

When: 4PM, Thursday, February 28, 2019

Where: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard, Lake City, Florida

What: A meeting of the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force

Directions: From the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. Highway 90 (exit 427) in the City of Lake City turn, East onto U.S. Highway 90, travel approximately 450 feet to SW Commerce Blvd, turn right (South) onto SW Commerce Blvd, travel approximately 720 feet and the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is on the left.

The agenda, after the customary introductory items, has only a resolution and Next Steps.

[Resolution and Next Steps]
Resolution and Next Steps

Not on the agenda, but mentioned in the minutes of the previous meeting:

The Task Force agreed that the next steps should be to request a meeting with the Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture. Chair Davis informed the Task Force that the next meeting will be held on Continue reading

Monthly Florida bacterial monitoring 2019-02-21

Two weeks ago, WWALS member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson asked the state of Florida what baseline water quality testing had been done downstream of Valdota, and:

Please begin water samplings for the isotope for sucralose, fecal coliform testing and any other water testing establishing what or who is culpable of contamination in our protected, Outstanding Florida Waterways.

Yesterday she got an answer. She agrees with my assessment of the data supplied: “Sparse locations and only monthly, but better than nothing.”

[DEAR bacterial monthly sampling stations]
DEAR bacterial monthly sampling stations

However, how can the state of Florida be “committed to monitoring and stopping this recurring problem.” when they “do not allow for enforcement actions directed at the source of sanitary sewer overflows, nor for routine water quality surveillance for sources of river water contamination”?

Now it’s true that last restriction was only cited as applying to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), not the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration (DEAR), and not to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD). But which of this alphabet soup of agencies should be doing “routine water quality surveillance for sources of river water contamination”?

The beginning of the final paragraph of the response does not indicate any intention Continue reading

Picture and bills: Capitol Conservation Day 2019-02-20

Wednesday I joined conservation groups from across Georgia to lobby the state legislature, in Capitol Conservation Day 2019, helping move along some bills.

[CCD]
CCD on the Georgia Capitol Steps 2019-02-20
Photo: Erik Voss for Georgia Water Coalition
This photograph can be freely shared, without limitations.

I’m in the hat on the right. Most of the other eight Riverkeepers of Georgia are also in this picture.

At the Bird Supper the previous Wednesday, I discussed two of the same topics and their bills with legislators: trust funds and coal ash.

Stop fee diversions

Jay Powell’s Trust Fund bill passed the Georgia House this same Wednesday, by Continue reading

FERC rubberstamped Suwannee M&R Station and Sabal Trail already built it 2019-02-11

FERC took less than a week to rubberstamp Sabal Trail’s first of February request, and Sabal Trail took less than a week after that to put the Metering and Regulation Station in service, connecting to Florida Gas Transmission in Suwannee County, Florida, onwards under the proposed phosphate mine site in Union and Bradford Counties, to Jacksonville, where Eagle LNG and Crowley Maritime’s Carib Energy are already sending LNG at least as far as Puerto Rico. Do the “applicable remaining terms and conditions of the Orders” include not leaking, like Sabal Trail already did at its nearby compressor station?

[3.4 miles, Hildreth Compressor Station to Suwannee M&R]
3.4 miles, Hildreth Compressor Station to Suwannee M&R; see also Google map.

Monthly Valdosta WQ Data 2019-02-07

Valdosta has fallen down to only monthly water quality testing, instead of their former weekly schedule.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

They’ve also dropped their two state line stations, so the GA-FL Line trace on this graph ends in December 2018.

Wide Map, Stations

Readings have risen since their January sampling, with Valdosta’s US 84 sampling station above the Georgia state limit at 265 cfu/100 ml of E. coli. Continue reading

The rest of the Valdosta wastewater story at SRWMD 2019-02-12

Valdosta Utilities naturally painted as rosy a picture as possible, and newspapers have limited space, so here is the rest of the story about Valdosta wastewater at the Suwannee River Water Management District board meeting last Tuesday. SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns understands the stigma, and Board Member Virginia Sanchez spelled it out:

SRWMD Chair Virginia H. Johns

“You don’t want to swim in a little sewage versus a lot of sewage either. Both of them are bad. A spill is bad.”

Featured in this post, drawing from the WWALS videos of all the relevant speakers, are Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse, who talked about the catch basin Valdosta is digging, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, who filled in many pieces omitted by Valdosta and FDEP, and Hamilton County resident Jim McBrayer, who got the attention of the SRWMD board by saying there was E. coli in his well and SRWMD should know where it came from, plus especially the very participatory SRWMD board, who made it pretty clear to FDEP they wanted data by their next meeting, and they wanted Valdosta to move along in fixing their problems in less than a hundred years.

Let’s not forget Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, who pointed out something Valdosta doesn’t want to hear: it’s the stigma of sewage spills that is the big problem they are causing. For sure we need to find out what the specific health and other effects are of Valdosta sewage and other contamination on river water and nearby wells. But the stigma of Valdosta sewage goes far beyond that.

Darryl Muse, Utilities Director, Valdosta

In the WWALS video, Continue reading