Last night Georgia legislators from all over the state, including numerous committee chairs, feasted on quail supplied by Lowndes County and Valdosta in the annual Bird Supper, a six-decade tradition of local lobbying in the Georgia state capitol.
I thanked Jeff Jones (District 167) for his new coal ash bills, and reminded other legislators to vote for them this year, like they did his earlier ones last year:
- HB 93 Water pollution and surface-water use; notice to local governing authorities prior to the dewatering of coal combustion residual surface impoundments; provide
- HB 94 Solid waste management; safe disposal of coal ash in municipal solid waste and commercial industrial solid waste landfills; provide
I also urged legislators to vote for this year’s resolution by Jay Powell (District 171) to stop the state from diverting funds from tax trust funds. Actually stopping it will require a state constitutional amendment, but his resolution would cause one to get put on the ballot.
- HR 164 General Assembly; dedication of revenues derived from fees or taxes to the public purpose for which such fees or taxes were imposed; authorize – CA
Last year, both Valdosta and Lowndes County passed resolutions supporting Jay Powell’s resolution of that year, as did Hahira, Adel, Lanier County, and Atkinson County. We got more local resolutions passed about this in the Suwannee River Basin than anywhere else in the entire state last year.
Last night I also discussed with various legislators the idea of allocating funds to GA-EPD for water quality testing, so as to find out what is in our waters. It’s great that GA-EPD is now publishing its Sewage Spill Report each business day. Which leads to further questions.
Valdosta’s water quality testing demonstrated something is getting in our rivers when there are no spills. Don’t we all want to know what, when, where, so we can find out what we can do about it?
And how far downstream do Valdosta’s spills go? Sure, Florida needs to help with that, as discussed at the SRWMD Board meeting Tuesday. But since Valdosta is reducing its testing frequency from weekly to monthly, there are gaps to be covered.
WWALS is doing what we can.
But at $6 per bacterial sample just for the petrifilms, not counting the rest of the equipment, we could use some funding. Or the states could do it themselves. Compared to the cost of a sewer main or lift station, testing costs are pocket change to a state such as Georgia or Florida.
It would be nice to get a grip on the water quality situation before 300 of our closest friends paddle down the Withlacoochee and Suwannee Riversthis summer in Paddle Georgia.
Also last evening I spoke with Valdosta Mayor John Gayle.
I wanted him to hear first from me that I had Tuesday at SRWMD referred to the Mayor John Gayle Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant. He says he likes that name, because he’s proud of that plant.
More about SRWMD and water quality testing in a later post.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
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