Category Archives: Basin

Cost of reclassifying Georgia rivers from Fishing to Recreational in Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Recently I was asked if there would be water monitoring costs to cities or counties because of upgrading our main Suwannee River Basin waters in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, as we have requested in Georgia’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. Here’s the answer, as best I could determine. And how you can help. For those who wonder why upgrade from Fishing to Recreational, please see the previous blog post.

[Satellite Map]
WWALS Satellite Map of landing in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia

Specifically the question was: would reclassifying rivers or swamp from Fishing to Recreational cause cities or counties to have to spend more money on water quality monitoring, specifically if a wastewater treatment plant had a spill, more money on water quality sampling afterwards?

The brief answer is: probably not.

Recently, I asked James A. Capp, Chief, Watershed Protection Branch, EPD. He said that for that case, there should be no change, because sampling after a spill is determined mostly by the number of gallons spilled.

Let me use some NPDES permits I have on hand to illustrate.

Here is the language in NPDES Permit No. GA0020222 for Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, first about number of gallons, then about the required sampling. Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper at Our Santa Fe River Board Meeting 2019-08-28

Thanks, OSFR President Mike Roth, for the invitation. Jim Tatum, OSFR, 31 August 2019, Suwannee RiverKeeper Quarterman is Guest at OSFR Board Meeting,

John S. Quarterman at OSFR Board 2019-08-28

Guest speaker at the August OSFR board meeting was Suwannee RiverKeeper John Quarterman from Georgia.

John gave a detailed run-down of the benefits and responsibilities of a riverkeeper, of which there are around 350 scattered around the globe.

What does John do?

Actually he does quite a bit. A brief search ended up on the WaterKeeper Alliance website which had Continue reading

Video: WWALS E.D. Gretchen Quarterman on Charlie Walker Radio 2019-03-13

In eight minutes she talked about the BIG Little River Paddle Race, the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest, on the air with Charlie Walker, KIX 99.5 Country Radio, plus Paddle Georgia, and all the other events and outings.

BIG Little River Paddle Race

“That’s our signature event,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman, about the Seventh Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race.

On the Air, Gretchen Quarterman

It’s our seventh year. It’s at Reed Bingham [State Park]. We paddle from Continue reading

Help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins in Georgia

We asked the state of Georgia to upgrede our main Suwannee River Basin rivers (and some lakes and swamps) from their current lowest water quality classification as Fishing to what they really are: Recreational Use. You can help!

[Georgia landings in Suwannee River Basin]

Every three years, federal law requires each state to review its water quality standards. 2019 is such a year for Georgia, so the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) is conducting a Triennial Review. The request WWALS sent to GA-EPD, background, and their response are all on the WWALS website. Our request was rather long, with 23 pages asking for reclassification of the Suwannee River, the Okefenokee Swamp, the Alapaha River, Lake Irma, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, the Withlacoochee River, the Little River, and Reed Bingham State Park Lake, all from Fishing to Recreational Use. The WWALS cover letter is included at the end of this blog post. For the rest, see the WWALS website.

The response thus far from GA-EPD has some good news: Continue reading

Urge your Georgia state legislators to stop coal ash pollution: HB 93, 94 and SB 123

Crossover day is this Thursday, by which bills have to pass one part of the Georgia legislature to be considered in the other. Please contact your state legislators today to stop coal ash pollution!

Coal ash from the infamous Kingston, Tennessee coal ash pond dam break in 2008 was shipped to at least five landfills in south Georgia, including the old landfill in Lowndes County, which is in an aquifer recharge zone and a quarter mile uphill from the Withlacoochee River. That landfill also has coal ash from Jacksonville, Florida. We don’t need any more coal ash in any landfills in Georgia. The power companies that produced it need to store it safely on their own land.

TVA aerial image of Kingston Ash Slide 2008-12-23
TVA aerial image of Kingston Ash Slide 2008-12-23.

Please call your Georgia state legislators today, to support:

Paddle Georgia, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, into Florida 2019-06-15-21

Update 2019-06-08: Reroute due to lack of rain.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, February 13, 2019 — From next to the largest Suwannee River Basin city, Valdosta, to between some of the smallest, Mayo and Luraville, Paddle Georgia brings 300 people this summer to venture for the first time across the state line from Georgia to Florida, on the Little, Withlacoochee, and Suwannee Rivers, June 15 through 21, 2019.

Banners picture,
WWALS Withlacoochee River outing 2017-06-24

“Five years ago I suggested our Withlacoochee River to Joe Cook for Paddle Georgia, and he went one better, adding the Suwannee River, past two of the few second-magnitude springs in Georgia, McIntyre and Arnold, and two of the famous first-magnitude Florida Springs: Madison Blue and Lafayette,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Plus Spook Bridge and the orphaned railroad trestle near Madison, with many shoals and rapids at the GA-FL line! Special thanks to The Langdale Company for permission to take out just below Spook Bridge. Personally, I like that this paddle starts at my birthplace in Valdosta, Georgia and ends at my grandmother’s birthplace at the ferry site for Luraville, Florida.”

This event is organized by Paddle Georgia, with catered dinners and buses to and from the rivers. WWALS is assisting, for example by organizing the Spook Bridge takeout, and by pointing out many sites that non-locals might miss, ranging from springs, and Withlacoochee River agates, and the halberd-leaf rosemallow, whose blooms last only one day, to perpetual bothers such as Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, the Continue reading

John S. Quarterman: Sewage spills in Georgia affecting Suwannee River basin, Gainesville Sun, 2019-01-31

Online today and in the paper Gainesville Sun this coming Sunday. To paddle the most-affected stretch of the Withlacoochee River, join us this Saturday morning.


A December upsurge of raw sewage spills from the city of Valdosta, Georgia, has a dozen downstream counties organized into a task force, demanding action from Florida state legislators. But what action?

I recommend first getting a grip on the extent of the problem, keeping that picture up to date and then funding fixes.

[Water]
Photo: John S. Quarterman of Sara Jay, Water Temperature, TGroupville Boat Ramp, Little River, 2019-01-06

Valdosta spilled not just twice, but two dozen times in December, totaling more than 6 million gallons of raw sewage. Spills also happened in Tifton, Quitman and Lowndes County, Georgia.

We know this because Continue reading

Lowndes County spilled, and Valdosta spilled 14 places, most ongoing 2018-12-05

Yesterday I left a message for Lowndes County Utilities asking if they had any spills. They never called back. But they did report to GA-EPD 35,000 gallons of raw sewage spilled from Madison Highway near exit 11. I hear they sent out a press release which said it was into Bevel Creek, which flows into the Withlacoochee River near the Georgia-Florida state line.

1 Quitman, 1 Lowndes County, 14 Valdosta, Spills
Quitman, Lowndes County, and Valdosta spills, December 2-3, 2018, as reported to GA-EPD Atlanta. See also the raw data.

Just now I received this from Lowndes County:

Public Notice
December 4, 2017

The Lowndes County Utility Department experienced a sanitary sewage spill on December 3, 2018 on Madison Highway at exit 11 near I-75. Untreated sewage entered into a drainage ditch that flows to Bevel Creek. It has been estimated that approximately 35,000 gallons of untreated sewage entered into the ditch during the event and the duration of the spill lasted approximately six hours. The spill was caused due to excessive rainfall. The County is monitoring this situation and is performing all reporting requirements as required by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division and the County’s NPDES Permit. Anyone having questions or comments may contact The Lowndes County Utilities Department at 229-671-2500.

Also, in addition to the WWTP spill Valdosta told the public about, they had 13 other spills, most, like that WWTP spill, still ongoing. Merely the total raw sewage spilled from the ones they have stopped totals 126,500 gallons.

These Suwannee River Basin spills from Quitman, Lowndes County, and Valdosta were not the only spills in this time period: Continue reading

Spills reported to GA-EPD Atlanta, 2018-11-13 through 2018-12-03

Thanks again to GA-EPD Atlanta for rapid response to a request for an update on spills reported to them. They note that some spills due to the recent rains, including Valdosta’s weekend multi-million-gallon spill, have not yet been reported to Atlanta.

This update does include a spill of raw sewage by the city of Quitman. I wonder, though, was it really 2 gallons? Or did they mean in units of thousands or millions? Also, Quitman is in the Suwannee River Basin, not the Ochlockonee River Basin.

Last two weeks, Spreadsheet
The past two weeks extracted from the GA-EPD update, sorted by begin date, and with the River Basin column shifted left for visibility.

Posting this data enables some debugging of the data such as 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