Category Archives: Agriculture

Full page ad by titanium miners in Charlton County Herald 2019-09-25

Update 2019-11-07: This blog post published as an op-ed in the Charlton County Herald, October 9, 2019, as Convenience of private profit is no excuse to risk Okefenokee.

[Convenience of private profit is no excuse to risk Okefenokee --Suwannee Riverkeeper]
Convenience of private profit is no excuse to risk Okefenokee –Suwannee Riverkeeper

It’s the miners who are proposing to risk the Okefenokee Swamp for their private profit, so it’s their job to provide proof, despite what the Twin Pines full page ad in the Charlton County Herald says. Alex Kearns has already made this point for St. Marys Earthkeepers in a letter to the editor. You can comment on the newspaper’s website on that one, or you can send one, too, to: editor@charltonherald.com.

[CharltonCounty-Herald 25Sept2019-0001]
CharltonCounty-Herald 25Sept2019-0001
PDF

Yet in our Suwannee Riverkeeper comments to the Corps, we have provided quite a few studies that indicate the risk, including a Florida Consent Order against the same company for similar mines in Florida.

Where are these studies Twin Pines touts in the ad? They were not in Twin Pines’ mining application, as we and many others, including U.S. EPA and GA-EPD have pointed out. When will these miners’ studies be published?

The one Twin Pines hydrogeological study I have been able to find is in a different application that this miners’ ad doesn’t mention: for groundwater withdrawal and use. That study shows the 4.32 million gallons per day the miners’ want (more than twice all the current permitted water withdrawals in Charlton County) would lower the level of the Floridan Aquifer under the Swamp.

[Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days]
Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days

At the August 13, 2019 miners’ meeting in Folkston, GA, Steve Ingle claimed the mine would not affect the Floridan Aquifer, and the miners’ hydrologist Mark Tanner claimed there would be no cone of depression under the Swamp, both on video. This was two weeks after the same company had filed its withdrawal application with a hydrology report that clearly depicts a cone of depression extending under the Swamp. A report authored by the same two hydrologists who were at the August 13th meeting: Robert M. Holt and J. Mark Tanner.

The same miners’ hydrologists also repeatedly refused to guarantee there would be no effect on the Suwannee River, despite the ad’s claims of “100% certainty.”

Pretty much every other point in that ad is similarly easily rebuttable.

It’s curious they didn’t mention their biggest selling point: Continue reading

Tycor Farms Solamerica Solar Farm in Alapaha River Basin

Solamerica Energy is building another solar farm in the Alapaha River Basin, leasing from Tycor Farms LLC, 6530 GA 376, Lake Park, Georgia, 31636.

[Alapaha River Water Trail Map]
Map: John S. Quarterman, from WWALS Alapaha River Water Trail Map.

There seem to be wetlands on the east side of the property, leading to Enoch Creek, then into the Alapahoochee River, into the Alapaha, the Suwannee, and on to the Gulf. However, the likely wetlands seem to be along the eastern edge of the cleared area, so one can guess Continue reading

Brooks County landowners challenge NextEra solar exception 2019-08-29

Clearcutting of upland forests, due process failures at the public hearing, spot zoning, violations of local ordinances, and failure to adhere to the Brooks County’s own Comprehensive Plan are among the grounds on which landowners are going to sue to overturn the Commission’s unanimous decision at the beginning of August to approve a Special Exception for NextEra Energy of Juno Beach, Florida, to build a 150 megawatt solar farm on wooded wetlands.

[Movie: No jury trial, but unanimous approval (1110M)]
Brooks County Commission hearing NextEra won’t agree to any jury trial, yet unanimously approving NextEra’s Special Exception, 2019-08-05

Here is the press release from their attorney, Jonathan Perry Waters of Macon, Georgia (see also PDF).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 29, 2019

LANDOWNERS CHALLENGE SOLAR EXCEPTION

Quitman, Georgia— August 29, 2019 — On Monday of this week, Brooks County Superior Court Judge Richard Cowart signed a Sanction for a Writ of Certiorari allowing a group of landowners in Brooks County to file a petition in the Superior Court of the County challenging the granting of a Special Exception Zoning permit by the Brooks County Board of Commissioners to Quitman II Solar, LLC to construct a 1,700 acre solar site in the an Agricultural Zoned area of the County. Quitman II Solar, LLC, is a wholly owned subsidiary of NextEra Energy, of Juno Beach, Florida.

Continue reading

WWALS Advisory Committee 2019-05-11

On May 11, we met to organize the WWALS Advisory Committee. Agriculture, Forestry, and Water were big topics. Thanks to Joe West, Assistant Dean of the Campus at the University of Georgia, Tifton, for many good suggestions of Committee members, and the use of his office for the meeting.

Hard at thought, Advisory Committee
Photo: John S. Quarterman, of Advisory Committee Chair Dave Hetzel, WWALS Board Delegate Bret Wagenhorst, Committee Member UGA Tifton Asst. Dean Joe West, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman (hat).

We will meet there again on Thursday, June 13, 2019. If you would like to be a WWALS Advisor, helping us out with advocacy, events, legislation, and yes, undraising, let us know. See our Vision, Mission, Goals, Issues, Outings and Events, and Fundraising. Don’t worry: nobody has to try to do all that. Advisors can specialize.

Here Joe West looks out of his office window at the Centennial Garden, which was dedicated one week before, at his suggestion. Continue reading

Videos: Parker Pond water withdrawals, BMAPs, Valdosta, and Testing @ SRWMD 2019-05-14

The deputy went in to see what the ruckus was about. It was Lu Merritt, Mike Roth, Jim Tatum, Mike Kern, and then me, in extensive discussion about a water withdrawal permit request, that Jim Tatum called Words of Truth to the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) Board.

On the agenda for that Monday, 14 May 2019:

20. Approval of New Water Use Permit 2-001-234425-1, Authorizing a Maximum 0.1462 mgd of Groundwater for Agricultural Use at the Parker Pond Project, Alachua County

I was actually there for this later item:

30. Valdosta Wastewater Update

In interaction with Tom Mirti, I confirmed that FDEP is doing DNA and sucralose (human waste marker) testing monthly at the GA-FL line on the Withlacoochee and Alapaha (not Alapahoochee) Rivers, and at the Withlacoochee Confluence with the Suwannee River. However, SRWMD has no plans for doing complementary weeks.

I found the public relations method research by Katelyn Potter to be fascinating.

Below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker, with some notes, followed by a WWALS video playlist. Continue reading

Water trails, agriculture, urban goals, pipelines, water quality monitoring –WWALS to GA-EPD 2019-04-26

Attendees from the Suwannee River Basin were the majority at the first public meeting about Georgia EPD’s revisions to its Nonpoint Source Management Plan. Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman attended, as did Erica McLelland and Julie Shutters.

[Timeline]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS (yes, I’ve ordered a new camera lens).

At the end of the public comment period, WWALS sent in the letter below (see also PDF), which brings in many issues, focusing them all on water quality testing.


April 26, 2019

Continue reading

Urge your Georgia state Senator to vote no on HB 545 to preserve rural property rights

Georgia HB 545 restricts property owners from filing a nuisance claim against an industrial agricultural operation. If a Chinese concentrated hog farming operation like those in North Carolina moves in next door, you may have no recourse if this law passes. Smells from pools of animal waste, pesticide drift, or underground contamination of your well water: all these things can travel for miles, and this bill could prevent you from objecting to them.

No on GA HB 545

In Georgia, people are living a “lightmare” from mega-greenhouses owned by an international conglomerate.

HB 545 would prevent property owners from protecting their own property values. Existing law already protects agricultural operations from neighbors who move in next to the farm. This bill favors newly arriving, disruptive industrial agricultural operations over long-established property owners.

Follow this link to send a message today to your Senator and the Governor to VOTE NO on HB 545. Protect rural property rights.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Marion County Comprehensive Plan to reject Coastal Connector? 2019-01-15

Maybe you’d like to show up 2PM tomorrow, Tuesday, January 15, 2019, and encourage the Marion County, FL, BOCC to adopt into the county’s Comprehensive Plan a Resolution they passed June 5, 2018, which would help head off future road boondoggles. The resolution opposes any Coastal Connector highway routes through Marion County.

[DRAFT Areas of Opportunity, 4/6/2016]
DRAFT Areas of Opportunity, 4/6/2016

When: 2PM, Tuesday, January 14, 2019

Where: McPherson Governmental Complex,
601 SE 25th Ave., Ocala, FL 34471

What: Item 14.B.4. on the agenda is adopting the resolution into the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Event: facebook

As juries recently decided about easement for the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline (which Marion County also opposed), “full compensation” is not the same as “just compensation” for road rights of way, either:

J. It must be recognized that the issue is not simply the payment of “full compensation” to owners of the most valuable equine and agricultural properties in Marion County. Rather, it must be recognized that as a result of any of these corridors, the required right-of-way acquisitions and resulting construction of the proposed facility will not only damage, but may destroy many of these important operations in Marion County, and consequently, negatively impact the economic vitality and long-range growth of Marion County; and

Gouging pipelines or highways through farm or horse land or under rivers destroys what they traverse. No amount of compensation would be sufficient.

If you’re nearby, this would be good opportunity to stand up for water, environment, and property rights.

Janet Barrow Letter

WWALS member Janet Barrow sent them this letter. EAR is Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida signs Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida 2018-12-19

In one of its first actions at its first official board meeting, WATERKEEPERS(R) FLORIDA voted to sign the Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida, December 19, 2018.

This opposition throughout Florida to phosphate mines anywhere in the state is especially timely, with public hearings and a vote coming up in January soon in Bradford County on the HPS II phosphate mine application.

A dozen of its thirteen members had already signed for their individual organizations. According to its bylaws, all members of WATERKEEPERS Florida are now signed on with the organization. Besides, the thirteenth member, Continue reading

State geologist Greenhalgh says BMPs don’t work to solve BMAPs

Someone inside FDEP has been brave enough for years to say the emperor has no clothes regarding contamination in the Suwannee River Basin.

Suiting up, Thomas Greenhalgh
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, of Thomas Greenhalgh suiting up at the Alapaha Dye Test, 2016-06-22.

Dinah Voyles Pulver, The Daytona-Beach News-Journal, 24 November 2018, State geologist challenging springs action plan raised questions before, Continue reading