Monthly Archives: June 2020

Clean weekend water quality, Withlacoochee River 2020-06-28

2020-07-04: Clean Little and Withlacoochee Rivers to GA-FL line 2020-07-03

More good news: the Little River at Troupville Boat Ramp tested good Saturday, and the Withlacoochee River tested good last week and Sunday.

[Troupville and State Line Boat Ramps (left)]
Photo: Suzy Hall, Troupville and State Line Boat Ramps

Thanks to Suzy Hall for the weekend testing. You can help by donating to the WWALS water quality testing program.

[Troupville Boat Ramp with foam]
Photo: Suzy Hall, Troupville Boat Ramp with foam 2020-06-27

Suzy Hall took samples both in the foam and in the main flow of the Little River at Troupville Boat Ramp Saturday, June 27, 2020. She got 33 cfu/100 mL in the flow and 66 in the foam, both well below the 126 long-term average limit for E. coli.

[State Line Boat Ramp (left)]
Photo: Suzy Hall, State Line Boat Ramp 2020-06-28

Results were even better at State Line Boat Ramp Sunday: Continue reading

Video: Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest on Steve Nichols Radio 2020-06-23

On the Steve Nichols radio show we talked about how song submissions are open until July 8, 2020, for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. We also talked about fishing, bacterial contamination and mercury in the rivers, coal plants, solar power, and upcoming WWALS outings on Banks Lake and the Suwannee River.

[Flyer]
Flyer

Tickets to listen to the finalists play 7-9PM Saturday, August, 22, 2020, at the Turner Center Art Park in Valdosta, GA, are $10 online (children under 12 free) or $12 at the door. For VIP tables send email to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

The Steve Nichols show was the first to reveal the judges are selected. Continue reading

Watching over the Waters: WWALS paddles, songwriting contest –VDT 2020-06-27

Amanda M. Usher, Valdosta Daily Times, 27 June 2020, Watching over the Waters: WWALS sponsors paddles, songwriting contest,

[Paddle Georgia from Spook Bridge, Withlacoochee River]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Paddle Georgia from Spook Bridge, between Quitman and Valdosta, GA, Withlacoochee River, June 15, 2019.

VALDOSTA — John Quarterman has been around the Suwannee River Basin since his childhood.

Living on land his [grand-]father purchased near rivers and swamps in 1921, he has always felt attracted to rivers and works to keep them clean.

Quarterman is the Suwannee [R]iverkeeper with WWALS Watershed Coalition. WWALS is an acronym for Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little[, Santa Fe,] and Suwannee.

The coalition was established in June 2012 to eliminate issues with rivers and creeks such as sewage spills, he said. Quarterman became the Suwannee [R]iverkeeper in 201[6].

WWALS Watershed Coalition serves a significant purpose of water quality testing, he said. The City of Valdosta tests waters three times a week from U.S. 41 North to the southern state line, he said.

Through the years, the group has hosted cleanups at the Troupville boat ramp and holds two or three paddles monthly.

[Lakeland cleanup, Alapaha River]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Rivers Alive Cleanup, Pafford’s Landing near Lakeland, GA, Alapaha River, October 12, 2019.

“We’re not just a paddling organization,” Quarterman said. “… We do paddles, but we’re also an advocacy organization. We want to do conservation of stewardship.”

Quarterman is about awareness. He strives to bring attention to the rivers’ existence and informing people they can make use of the recreational rivers by boating or fishing.

“Getting people out there on the rivers to see what it is they are trying to conserve and protect is really important because until you see it for yourself, you’re not really appreciating the beauty of these rivers,” he said.

The rest of the article is about the upcoming paddle outings at Banks Lake at 7:30 PM Sunday, July 5, and at Dowling Park River Camp; for that one please be at Dowling Park Boat Ramp a 11:30 AM, Saturday, July 18, with camping gear.

The article concludes with the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, 7-9 PM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, at Turner Center Art Park, 605 N. Patterson Street, Valdosta, GA.

Come on down!

Thanks Amanda M. Usher, for Continue reading

Video: Dear Ol’ Suwannee –Dick Grillo; send your song for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2020-08-22

Last year, Dick Grillo sang his song “Dear Ol’ Suwannee,” and got written up in the Suwannee Democrat for that song, Live Oak’s Grillo wins at Songwriting Contest. He won Best Song from Inside the Suwannee River Basin with a $50 prize, and a plaque for Best Folk/Country song.

This year, you can send in your song until July 8, for the 2020 Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, on August 22, 2020.

[Dick Grillo Singing 'Dear Ol' Suwannee' in Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2019]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Dick Grillo Singing ‘Dear Ol’ Suwannee’ in Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2019.

The three judges are ready to hear your songs, 7-9 PM, Saturday, August 22, 2020, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia 31601. Headliners will play, food truck and cash bar, finalists will play, silent auction and kayak raffle, judges will judge, prizes will be awarded, winners will play M.C.: Scott James of Talk 92.1 FM Radio.

Tickets to listen are on sale now, $10 online (children under 12 free), or $12 at the door. For VIP tables send email to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.

Songs can be about the Suwannee River, or the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Alapahoochee, Little, New, Dead, or Gopher Rivers, Okapilco, Piscola, etc. Creeks, the Okefenokee Swamp, Grand Bay, or springs, sinks, swamps, or ponds. (But not the Santa Fe River; which has its own contest.)

Here’s Dick Grillo last year with Dear Ol’ Suwannee: Continue reading

WWALS Annual Member Meeting and Board Meeting 2020-07-12

Update 2020-07-12: Full agendas with reports.

WWALS will elect some new board members and new officers in two meetings on Sunday, July 12, 2020, both online. Plus a kayak raffle winner!

When: 2PM, Sunday, July 12, 2020

Where: Online: see zoom parameters

Event: facebook

WWALS Annual Member Meeting

[WWALS Annual Member Meeting]
WWALS Annual Member Meeting

WWALS Members will hear and approve an annual report, and then elect some board members, at the WWALS Annual Member Meeting, to be held online this year, at 2PM, Sunday, July 12, 2020. Finally, we will select and announce the kayak raffle winner! Continue reading

Next outings: Full Moon Banks Lake and Suwannee River Camping

Tired of being cooped up inside? Want to get out on the water? WWALS has two outings coming up with plenty of room for physical distancing.

First is an easy evening lake paddle out and back, then overnight camping with a brief upstream paddle.

[Moonrise and River Camp]
Moonrise and River Camp

Banks Lake Buck Moon Paddle 2020-07-05

Come see the sun set, the bats come out, and the moon rise over Banks Lake, just west of Lakeland, Georgia, on Sunday evening, July 5, in the Banks Lake Buck Moon Paddle, If you don’t have a boat, let us know, and we can supply you one. Please be there by 7:30 PM. See previous post for more details.

Intro to Kayak and Canoe Camping at Dowling Park River Camp 2020-07-18

Experience one of the fabled River Camps on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail, in Intro to Kayak and Canoe Camping at Dowling Park River Camp. Five screened sleeping platforms! (Bring a tent if you don’t get one reserved.) Air-conditioned bathrooms with hot and cold running water and showers!

Please be at the Dowling Park Boat Ramp by Continue reading

FPL and JEA exiting Plant Scherer Unit 4 near Macon, GA 2020-06-26

The biggest, dirtiest, coal plant in the country is losing the owners of one of its four units: Plant Scherer, near Juliette, Georgia, north of Macon. Florida Power & Light (FPL) and the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA), are bailing out of their 76.4% and 23.6% shares of unit 4, by January 2022. Somebody else may buy into unit 4, and thus Georgia Power may keep it running. But maybe not, considering the reason for FPL and JEA exiting is that the plant is no longer economical to run. Meanwhile, where will the coal ash go?

At least maybe soon less mercury will go into the air and come down in the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers and the Okefenokee Swamp.

JEA: Plant Scherer
Photo: JEA. Plant Scherer, located near Macon, Georgia, is operated by the Georgia Power Company. Unit 4, one of the four steam units located at the site, is partially owned by JEA. Unit 4 uses coal to produce JEA’s 200 MW portion of electricity output, which is delivered to Jacksonville over large, high-voltage electric transmission lines.

This move was signaled in FPL’s Ten Year Power Plant Site Plan 2020 – 2029, Submitted To: Florida Public Service Commission, April 2020:

(i) Retirement of Existing Generating Units That Are No Longer Economic to Operate:

…the retirement of FPL’s ownership portion (approximately 76%) of the coal-fueled Scherer Unit 4 unit in Georgia is planned by January 2022. FPL’s ownership portion of this unit is approximately 630 MW.

The news is not all good. Brendan Rivers, wjct, 26 June 2020, JEA Approves Plan To Close Unit At Plant Scherer, 1 Of Nation’s Biggest Carbon Emitters,

The transaction approved by the board includes JEA entering into a Continue reading

Ask Gov. DeSantis to veto M-CORES from the budget 2020-06-05

Please write today, something like this:


To: Governor Ron DeSantis <governorron.desantis@eog.myflorida.com>
Subject: Please redirect M-CORES toll roads funds to critical state needs

Please wield your veto pen to remove from the budget the $90 million dedicated to M-CORES.

Signed, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper


Back in April, WWALS sent a letter to Gov. DeSantis asking him to repurpose toll road funds and we asked you to do that, too.

On June 5, 2020, eighty organizations including WWALS wrote to Gov. DeSantis requesting the same, as you can see below.

Now the Florida state budget is on his desk, so he has an opportunity to do this. Please help. Contact the Governor today.

No Roads to Ruin Letter June 5, 2020

Continue reading

Good water quality, Withlacoochee and Alapaha, but recent rains may change that 2020-06-22

The most recent water quality data we have looks good, for both the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers, in Georgia and Florida.

But it’s from Monday, June 22, 2020, and there was significant rain on Okapilco Creek Tuesday and Wednesday in Brooks County, and more upstream at Skipper Bridge in Lowndes County, Georgia, on the Withlacoochee River. So conditions may change.

[Looks good, but...]
Looks good, but…
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Here are the recent rain records. Continue reading

Knights Ferry Boat Ramp signs replanted 2020-06-15

Thanks to Dan Phillips, Chair of the WWALS Trails Committee, for replanting new copies of the Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail (WLRWT) signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River.

[Knights Ferry Boat Ramp signs]
Knights Ferry Boat Ramp signs

The previous signs were pretty shot up, even though we only planted them six months ago. Really, is there nothing else to shoot at?

If you want copies of these signs, we’ll be happy to sell them to you for $50 a pair.

Or you can donate to the cost of printing more of these metal signs to go at more access points.

Each location has a pair of signs, one of which is the same at each location. It’s the one for the WLRWT, with Safety and Etiquette information, along with a map of the entire WLRWT and logos of Sponsors of This Water Trail. Continue reading