Monthly Archives: April 2020

Stream monitoring with only annual reporting privatized by Lowndes County Commission 2020-04-28

With only one dissenting vote, last night the Lowndes County Commission approved more than $45,000 for a sole-source contract for stream monitoring, with only annual reporting required. Since the contractor is private, it doesn’t have to answer open records requests. How does this help warn people when the rivers are clean or not?

There had never been any bids, even though the requirement for this monitoring from GA-EPD apparently came in back in June 2018. The Commissioners did not have the monitoring plan in front of them, nor the GA-EPD requirement, as near as I can tell.

[BUDGET IMPACT: $45,120.00]
BUDGET IMPACT: $45,120.00

Apparently somebody read a list of streams to the Commissioners, along with the monitoring required for each. But that list was not in the posted agenda.

[Suwannee Basin impaired waters, map]
Suwannee Basin impaired waters, map by GECAP.

We can guess it was maybe the “Not Supporting” or “Assessment Pending” streams in Lowndes County from the GA-EPD Listing of Waterbodies, Clean Water Act Section 303(d), for which see below. But we don’t know.

And what about the contamination often coming down Okapilco Creek into GAR031102030902 Withlacoochee River: Okapilco Creek to Stateline? No Commissioner thought to ask that. How will this contractor work with WWALS? Perhaps an indication came when I spoke with the County Engineer Mike Fletcher Monday morning: “I don’t know what WWALS is doing,” he said.

Did Lowndes County consult with any of the various organizations that are doing stream monitoring already, such as the cities of Valdosta or Quitman, Madison Health, FDEP, SRWMD, or SGRC? If so, they didn’t mention it in last night’s meeting.

It is not even clear that this was a public meeting. At 2:38 PM, less than three hours before Continue reading

Winner: Within these WWALS Contest #1 2020-04-11

First, remember the fourth Within These WWALS contest is still in progress, and you can answer here by midnight May 2, 2020:
https://forms.gle/SSPeLzniUxgQbqFL9

Meanwhile, the winner of the first contest, which ended April 11, 2020, is….

Deanna Mericle, of Hamilton County, Florida!

WWALS charter board member emeritus Bret Wagenhorst sent her a packet of WWALS photo notecards from that watershed.

Alapaha River and Banks Lake notecards

Each of the pictures on the cover shown above appears on a separate notecard, each with an envelope.

The answers to Within These WWALS #1 are: Continue reading

High, fast, and dirty: Withlacoochee River, Okapilco and Crooked Creeks 2020-04-25

WWALS testers Conn and Trudy Cole noted for these four Saturday test stations: “All of these were high and flowing fast.” Also dirty. You can help WWALS buy supplies for water quality testing.

[All four dirty]
All four dirty

You don’t even have to be a trained tester to tell none of those Petrifilms looks good, and that bottom row is by far the worst.

cfu/100 mL
E. coli
Where
444 Little River @ GA 76 (Cook County Boat Ramp)
1,200 Withlacoochee River @ US 84
900 Okapilco Creek @ US 84
TNTC Crooked Creek @ Devane Road

All four locations were above the 410 single-sample limit, and two were above the 1,000 alert limit.

As expected, every location tested was filthy. Crooked Creek at Devane Road was so much higher that it could only be recorded as Too Many To Count (TNTC). That’s in the left middle of this map, where Continue reading

Within These Walls Contest 4 2020-04-27

Please identify (by scientific or common name) each of the items highlighted in a set of photos and then come up with the name of the WWALS waterway where all the photos were taken. The first correct set of answers wins a packet of WWALS photo cards from that watershed.

Here’s the quiz form where you can enter your answers:
https://forms.gle/T65TdgVLPsu6Gxn58

[Plant, Bird, Spring, Flower]
Plant, Bird, Spring, Flower

Please answer by midnight at the end of Saturday, May 2, 2020.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Sabal Trail still below gas capacity 2020-04-26

Almost two years after starting to push gas, Sabal Trail still isn’t using all it’s already authorized for, so why does it need Phase II? Why are we still wasting money, water, and air on pipelines when solar panels long ago could have provided more electricity, faster, cheaper, and with no emissions and no eminent domain?

[Operational Capacity 2020-04-26-0900]
Operational Capacity 2020-04-26-0900
Map and data from FERC-required Sabal Trail Informational Postings.

If the point of the Phase II Albany, GA, and Dunnellon, FL, Compressor Stations is to pipe more gas to the Reunion Compressor Station, somebody should tell Sabal Trail the Mouse is closed due to pandemic.

Looks like Sabal Trail’s deliveries got stuck in April. Continue reading

GA-EPD Listing of Waterbodies, Clean Water Act Section 303(d) 2020-04-03

What Georgia streams are not impaired?

[Georgia impaired waters, map]
Georgia impaired waters, map
Map: GECAP.

Very few, apparently.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) has drafted the “Georgia 2020 305(b)/303(d) draft list of waters was prepared in accordance with Sections 305(b) and 303(d) of the Federal Clean Water Act and guidance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”

There’s an online public meeting 1PM, Wednesday, May 20, 2020 for questions and comments.

Comments may also be emailed on or before 4:30 PM June 4, 2020, to Continue reading

Video: Sabrina Deetz; send in your song, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest

You don’t have to be as high-energy as Sabrina Deetz, but it helps!

Songs are coming in. Send in your song by the deadline of July 8, 2020, for the Third Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, August 22, 2020, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia:
wwals.net/pictures/2020-08-22–songwriting/

Photo: Sara and Scotti Jay for WWALS, of Sabrina Deetz singing Take me to the Suwannee at the 2019 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.
Photo: Sara and Scotti Jay for WWALS, of Sabrina Deetz singing Take me to the Suwannee at the 2019 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

“Georgia Beer Co. is back as our top-tier sponsor, which helps us get these new songs about our rivers, swamps, springs, and sinks,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Finalists will play at the Contest, 6-9 PM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, judges will judge, at the Turner Center for the Arts, 527 N Patterson St, Valdosta, Georgia, 31601. There will be food and a cash bar, as you watch and listen, and you can browse the artworks at the Turner Center. There will also be a kayak raffle and a silent auction, as well as a range of buttons, stickers, hats, notecards, signs, shirts, and posters for sale: this is a fundraiser for WWALS Watershed Coalition.

Facebook event.

Yes, we do have a plan in case stay-at-home for the novel coronavirus pandemic is not over by August. We will Continue reading

Industry press: WWALS and Sierra Club oppose FERC rubberstamp of Sabal Trail compressor stations 2020-04-23

Sabal Trail is no exception to widespread pipeline opposition, notes a prominent fossil fuel industry publication, especially for the recent decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to authorize operation of Sabal Trail’s Phase II Albany, GA, compressor station during a virus pandemic. Neither Platts nor the AJC noted the Dunnellon, FL, compressor station was also authorized in Phase II, even though that site already leaked before station construction started.

[Platts: Sabal Trail Phase II Compressor Stations]
Platts: Sabal Trail Phase II Compressor Stations, from FERC Sabal Trail Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Maya Weber, Joe Fisher ed., S&P Global Platts, 2020-04-23, Sabal Trail gets FERC OK to start compression, over green group objections.

The article first rehearses Sabal Trail’s request for a six-month extension and about-face request for immediate operations, which FERC rubberstamped. You can read about that in more detail in the previous WWALS blog post. That post also has details of the WWALS and Sierra Club objections that the Platts article then notes.

[Site Plan]
Site Plan
PDF

Urging denial

Sierra Club and WWALS Watershed Coalition in recent weeks urged FERC to deny the request in separate filings.

“The Albany compressor station would increase air pollution—which has been linked to higher coronavirus death rates—in a predominantly African American community that has ‘one of the highest infection rates in the country,'” wrote Sierra Club attorney Elly Benson in an April 13 letter to FERC, citing news articles. “Now is not the time to needlessly increase the pollution burden on an environmental justice community that is particularly vulnerable to these threats.” She said 84% of residents within a half-mile radius of the Albany facility are African American.

[Aerial]
Aerial
PDF

But here’s a name we haven’t seen in a while.

Andrea Grover, Continue reading

Video: Sign up to recommend No Build; M-CORES toll road webinars

Floridians moved to Lowndes County, Georgia, after Hurricane Irma, but not because of lack of toll roads. If they had had solar panels and batteries so they wouldn’t be without power for weeks, they might have stayed in Florida, said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

You can recommend No Build this coming week, as M-CORES holds webinars with public comment. See below for how.

[Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman]
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman says No Build.

The Suncoast Connector Task Force webinar is 9:30 AM to 12 noon, Thursday, April 30, 2020. That’s the toll road that would run from Crystal River across the Suwannee River, through farms, forests, and wetlands, building bypasses around towns and cities, to Thomasville, Georgia.

To listen, you have to Continue reading

Banks Lake Full Flower Moon Paddle, 2020-05-07

Leisurely sunset paddle and watch the May Full Flower Moon rise over the lake.

No, there’s no curfew in Lanier County now (confirmed with the Lanier County Sheriff), and since there’s no shuttle on this outing, we can all stay six feet apart on l and 10 feet apart on the water.

Banks Lake National Wildlife Refuge is in the Grand Bay–Banks Lake ecosystem. We usually see birds, bats and alligators. Sunsets are usually spectacular, and the full moon over the tree tops reflected in the lake is a sight to see.

When: Gather 7:30 PM, launch 7:50 PM, Thursday, May 7, 2020

Moon and sun: Sunset 8:16 PM, Moonrise 8:46 PM

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

GPS: 31.035097, -83.097045

Take Out: Banks Lake Boat Ramp

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.

Boats: Kayaks are available to borrow but please let us know at least 2 days prior to the event. Bring your own if you have it.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members, optional during this virus pandemic period. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

[Moonrise cypress arc (MM)]
Photo: Monica McKenzie, Moonrise cypress arc (MM), 2020-02-09.

Continue reading