Category Archives: Quality

75 organizations oppose proposed Florida toll roads: HB 7113/SB 7068 2019-04-25

Floridians, please call your Florida statehouse representative today. SB 7068 passed the Florida Senate already, so we all need to head off HB 7113 in the Florida House.

For Immediate Release (PDF)

April 25, 2019

Contact: David Cullen, cullenasea@aol.com, 941-323-2404
Diana Umpierre, diana.umpierre@sierraclub.org, 954-829-7632
John S. Quarterman, contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org, 850-290-2350

75 ORGANIZATIONS, BUSINESSES URGE HOUSE TO STOP TOLL ROADS
Transportation Corridors bills are bad deal for Florida taxpayers


Legislature’s planned road project could benefit Florida’s richest man, by Julie Hauserman, Florida Phoenix,March 21, 2019.

Tallahassee — Today 75 conservation organizations, civic groups, and businesses representing every corner of the state sent a letter to the Florida House of Representatives urging a no vote on the Transportation Corridor bills (SB 7068/HB 7113).

The letter to the House follows a similar letter sent to the Senate on Monday and will be followed by a separate letter to Governor DeSantis urging a veto of the toll road plan if the House does not put the brakes on the legislation passed by the Senate on Wednesday.

The letter:

April 25, 2019

The Honorable House of Representatives
House Office Building
402 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399

RE: Oppose proposed toll roads – HB 7113/SB 7068

To the Florida House of Representatives:

The 75 below-signed organizations and businesses ask that you oppose legislation that seeks to construct three toll roads through rural Florida. These highways will not reduce traffic or provide safety during hurricane events.

1000 Friends of Florida found in its Florida 2070 report that Florida is on track to increase developed land to a full third of the State in the next half century. Sprawl is not progress. These toll roads will cost Florida hundreds of thousands of acres of farms and rural lands and fragment landscape and wildlife habitat. The intended “benefits” of these toll roads include water and sewer infrastructure which, with on and off ramps, will accelerate urban sprawl.

This legislation would carve three corridors through Florida’s undeveloped areas:

  • “Southwest-Central Florida Connector” extending from Collier County to Polk County; a previous highway planned for the route was called the Heartland Parkway
  • “Suncoast Connector” extending from Citrus County to Jefferson County
  • “Northern Turnpike Connector” extending from the northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike northwest to the Suncoast Parkway

Building these roads will be very expensive. The funding would grow from $45 million next fiscal year to $90 million in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, about $135 million the next year, and a recurring amount of $140 million starting in the 2022-2023 fiscal year. And that’s just for planning. Billions will be bonded to actually build hundreds of miles of limited access highways. Florida will be paying off the debt for more than a generation instead of funding education, healthcare, or needed infrastructure for wastewater, drinking water, and the roads and bridges we already have.

These hugely expensive road projects and accompanying urban sprawl will devastate habitat for the Florida Panther and dozens of other endangered and threatened Florida species. They will destroy important wetlands, forests, springs, and aquifer recharge areas from Florida Bay to the Georgia border even though they would not serve an identified transportation purpose. In fact, the FDOT Interstate 75 Relief Task Force recommended in 2016 that rather than new roads, a better approach was expanding the vehicle capacity of the interstate and connecting highways.

Transit and planning relieve congestion, not building roads. Relieving congestion in urban areas requires a focus on transit. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2016 Report Card notes that only 2% of Floridians’ commutes to work were made by public transit and that Florida needs to develop and connect its transit networks with an additional $1.3 billion investment.

Road building is not a sustainable economic development strategy for rural communities. In fact, these roads will route traffic away from communities established on existing roads, harming their economies.

New tollways through west-central Florida are not the answer to hurricane preparedness. Floridians need more safe spaces in their communities to shelter during storms; only 42% of schools are designated hurricane shelters, indicating many schools do not meet the structural requirements. Providing safe shelters for evacuees is a more practical and affordable response to extreme weather events than new toll expressways.

We urge you to spend Florida tax payer dollars wisely and reject the toll roads.

Sincerely,

1000 Friends of Florida
Thomas Hawkins, Policy & Planning Director

Aquatics for Life
Susan Steinhauser, President

Audubon Everglades
Scott Zucker, Vice President & Conservation Co-Chair

ASBRO LLC.
E. Allen Stewart III, P.E. Managing Partner

Bullsugar Alliance
Alex Gillen, Policy Director

Catalyst Miami
Gretchen Beesing, CEO

Central Florida Astronomical Society
Eric Hoin, President

Center for Biological Diversity
Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director

Florida Bay Forever – Save Our Waters
Elizabeth Jolin, Director

Chart 411
Lucinda Johnston, Executive Director

Florida Conservation Voters
Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director

Citizens For Sanity
Dan Rametta, Director

Florida Native Plant Society
Susan Carr, President

City of Seminole Community Garden
Mary Ann Kirk, Garden Coordinator

Florida Native Plant Society, Conradina Chapter
Carol Hebert, President

Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County
Judy Orcutt, Vice President

Concerned Citizens of Bayshore Community, Inc.
Steven Brodkin. Vice President/Secretary

Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Nicole Johnson, Director of Environmental Policy

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast
Christine P. Johnson, President

Defenders of Wildlife
Kent L. Wimmer, AICP, Senior Representative

Ding Darling Wildlife Society
Mike Baldwin, President

Emerald Coastkeeper, Inc.
Laurie Murphy, Executive Director

Englewood Indivisible
Jane Hunter, Leader

Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF)
Becky Ayech, President

Environment Florida
Jennifer Rubiello, State Director

Florida Native Plant Society, Pine Lily Chapter
Karina Veaudry, President

Florida PIRG
Matt Casale, Transportation Campaign Director

Florida Policy Institute
Sadaf Knight, CEO

Florida Voices for Health
Scott Darius, Executive Director

Florida Water Conservation Trust
Terry Brant, Legislative Chairman

Forging Alliances, Inc.
Alexander Easdale, Owner/Principal

Friends of the Everglades
Philip Kushlan, President

Friends of Split Oak Forest
Valerie Anderson, President

Friends of Warm Mineral Springs, Inc.
Juliette Jones, Director

Hands Along The Water
Samantha Gentrup, President

Ichetucknee Alliance, Inc.
John D. Jopling, President

Our Santa Fe River, Inc.
Michael Roth, President

Indivisible Clay County
Sandy Goldman, Chair

Peace Justice Sustainability Florida
Alice Wujciak, Member Activist

Indivisible Mandarin
Karen Droege, Chair

Peacehome Campaigns
David Gibson, Organizing Director

Indivisible St Johns
Mary Lawrence, Founder

Pelican Island Audubon
Richard Baker, Ph.D., President

Indivisible Venice
Charles Rusman, Lead Team

Progress Florida
Mark Ferrulo, Executive Director

International Dark Sky Association, FL Chapter
Diana Umpierre, Chair

Rainbow River Conservation, Inc.
Burton Eno, PhD, President

Izaak Walton League of America, Florida Keys Chapter
Michael F. Chenoweth, President

League of Women Voters of Florida
Patricia Brigham, President

Lobby For Animals
Thomas Ponce, Founder/President

Marion Audubon Society
Barbara Schwartz, Conservation Chair

Martin County Conservation Alliance
Donna Melzer, Chair

Miakka Community Club,
Cathy Lewis

Natural Resources Defense Council
Alison Kelly, Senior Attorney, Lands Nature Program

NW St. Johns County United for Progress
Richard Chapman, President

Rebah Farm
Carol Ahearn, Owner

ReLEAF Sarasota
Leslie Harris-Senac, Board of Directors

Responsible Growth Management Coalition
Connie Langmann, President

Rum 138, LLC
Merrillee Jipson, Owner

Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation
Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy Director

Santa Fe Lake Dwellers Association Inc. (SFLDA)
Jill McGuire, President

Save the Manatee Club
Katie Tripp, Ph.D., Director of Science and Conservation

Seminole United Methodist Church Community Garden
Bob Huttick, Garden Coordinator

Sierra Club Florida
Frank Jackalone, Chapter Director

Speak Up Wekiva, Inc.
Chuck O’Neal, President

South Florida Amateur Astronomers Association
Monroe Pattillo, President

Springs Eternal Project
John Moran, Co-director

St. Johns Riverkeeper
Lisa Rinaman, Riverkeeper

South Florida Wildlands Association
Matthew Schwartz, Executive Director

Stone Crab Alliance
Karen Dwyer, Ph.D., Co-founder

Southern Cross Astronomical Society
Tim Khan, Vice President

Sunshine Citizens, Inc.
Christopher Vela, President

Southwest Florida Astronomical Society
Brian Risley, President

WWALS Watershed Coalition
John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper

Space Coast Progressive Alliance
Philip E. Stasik, President

Link to House Letter:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1T9LGnGaV4WictoCskTI3x3UNenUZm7cy/view?usp=sharing

Link to Senate Letter: https://drive.google.com/file/d/11Fna73PROulA1lVcENs0WMSa9WQaSxSP/view?usp=sharing

####

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

Valdosta Water Quality Testing Data 2019-04-23

Fecal coliform in Onemile Branch was way above the Georgia state limit of 200, in Valdosta’s followup water quality monitoring after their spill of more than 100,000 gallons of raw sewage at Wainwright Drive, just downstream from Valdosta State University.

[2018-02-03 Wainwright Drive Onemile Branch]
2018-02-03 Wainwright Drive Onemile Branch

We know this because, in response to a Georgia Open Records Act request from WWALS, Alys Hannum of GA-EPD sent this data, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019. She wrote: Continue reading

Georgia Water Coalition Spring Partner Meeting 2019-04-24

Naturally, what happened in the Georgia legislature is the most prevalent topic at the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC) Spring Partner Meeting, such as about coal ash and trust funds. I provoked extended discussion of the value of Capitol Conservation Day: even if it’s hard to get to see a legislator when that many people are there, the mere fact that so many people are there affected legislation.

There are also breakout sessions on the Georgia Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. (You can sign up to help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins.) All the Riverkeepers of Georgia are involved, and Water Trails are very relevant.

Speaking: Rena Peck Stricker, E.D., Georgia River Network, Attendees
Speaking: Rena Peck Stricker, E.D., Georgia River Network
WWALS Ambassador Dave Hetzel is second row from the back, second from the right.
My Georgia Beer Co. hat is on the left (have I mentioned they are the top-level sponsor of our Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest and a sponsor of our BIG Little River Paddle Race)), two rows in front of Gordon Rogers’ Save the Flint shirt.

After Continue reading

Rivers Task Force meeting, Lake City, Florida 2019-04-25

Agenda (PDF):

AGENDA
MIDDLE AND LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER AND
WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER TASK FORCE

April 25, 2019
4:00 p.m.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard
Lake City, Florida

  1. INVOCATION
  2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
  3. INTRODUCTIONS
  4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – February 28, 2019*
  5. REPORT ON ACTIVITIES
    1. Florida Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee Testimony
    2. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary and Governor’s Staff Meeting
    3. Joint Task Force and City of Valdosta City Council Workshop
  6. WATER SAMPLING SCHEDULE AND DATA
  7. NEXT STEPS

* See Attachments

Agenda, Meeting

See also:

Training for Water Quality Testing, RBSP after BLRPR 2019-04-27

After the BIG Little River Paddle Race this Saturday morning, also at Reed Bingham State Park, you can get trained to do water quality testing, at 2PM Saturday afternoon. This is both chemical and bacterial training.

When: 2PM, Saturday, April 27, 2019

Where: Shelter #3, Reed Bingham State Park, 542 Reed Bingham Rd, Adel, GA 31620

Event: facebook, meetup

Sign up: Please use the google form to sign up so we’ll know how many are coming, Continue reading

Better bacterial levels in Valdosta WQ data 2019-04-02

All of Valdosta’s water quality sampling stations were below the Georgia state limit for E. coli for the first week of April. Valdosta no longer samples weekly, only once a month. It also no longer samples at the state line.

Graph, Withlacoochee River Basin, Withlacoochee

We got this monthly Valdosta WQ data via open records request, as usual. As I said at the April 10, 2019 meeting between Valdosta and the dozen Florida counties, I also filed the next day open records requests for Valdosta’s permit-required spill-followup test data, and for the engineering study they said they had related to how big the new catch basin needs to be. Yesterday I got the latest monthly data a day late, but only a “working on it” about the other two requests. I will now Continue reading

Excluding groundwater makes no sense above the Florida Aquifer –WWALS to EPA 2019-04-15

Approved at the Sunday WWALS board meeting and filed last night via regulations.gov as PDF.


April 15, 2019

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Docket Center
Office of Water Docket
Mail Code 28221T
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2018-0149,
       Revised Definition of Waters of United States

To Whom it May Concern:

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS), also known as Suwannee Riverkeeper, submits the following comments on the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Department of Defense, Department of the Army, Corps of Engineers (“Corps”) proposed rule entitled “Revised Definition of Waters of United States,” 84 Federal Register 4154-01 (February 14, 2019) (hereinafter “Proposed Rule”).

In addition to supporting the comments of Waterkeeper Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), WWALS adds these comments on groundwater.

The Proposed Rule’s categorical exclusion of groundwater makes no sense here above the Floridan Aquifer where surface water and groundwater constantly interchange, and pollutants travelling through groundwater are a frequent source of health, environmental, and economic problems.

[2019-04-15--WWALS-to-EPA-0001]
2019-04-15–WWALS-to-EPA-0001

This proposed exclusion of groundwater is called out repeatedly in the Proposed Rule, starting with this:

Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida meets FDEP in Orlando: Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards 2019-04-15

This Monday, April 15, 2019, Waterkeepers Florida (WKFL) will meet with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) about the federally-required Triennial Review of state Water Quality Standards. As Suwannee Riverkeeper, I ask you our members of WWALS and the public what you think I should ask FDEP in that meeting.

[WKFL meets FDEP]
WKFL meets FDEP

FYI, so far I mainly plan to ask about water quality monitoring: the need for more of it, more frequently, and published more quickly, so as to find out Continue reading

Videos: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-04-10

Update 2019-04-13: Added Task Force Resolution.

Everyone in the dozen downstream Florida counties wants to help Valdosta finish fixing its sewage problems, and all were impressed with the thoroughness of the presentations by Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse. There was even an offer to contact federal representatives and agencies from the elephant in the room, Ken Cornell of Alachua County, which contains half the population of the dozen Task Force Counties (and twice the population of Valdosta and Lowndes County),

[Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance]
Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance

Mayor John Gayle said “Valdosta is privileged to be a regional city”, serving eighteen counties and benefitting from sales taxes of all those who shop in Valdosta, and later offered assurances that Valdosta was doing everything it could.

[Assurances --Mayor John Gayle]
Assurances –Mayor John Gayle

They could answer the question from Beth Burnham of Hamilton County about reporting times: less than 24 hours to the state of Georgia.

[Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham]
Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham

Nonetheless Continue reading

Florida Water Conservation Month and Waterkeepers Florida 2019-04-02

Yesterday, the Chair of Waterkeepers Florida received a resolution sponsored by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nicole “Nikki” Fried and “signed by Governor DeSantis and the full Cabinet, recognizing the month of April as Water Conservation Month in Florida.” This is a good thing, but we should keep our eyes open about Florida’s current cabinet.

[WKA FL Chair, Governor, Cabinet]
Left to right: Lisa Rinaman for WKA FL, unknown, Gov. Ron DeSantis, FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, unknown, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Chief Financial Office Jimmy Patronis.

Commissioner Fried presented the resolution to Lisa Rinaman, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and Chair of Waterkeepers Florida. Read the resolution declaring April as Water Conservation Month here.

“On behalf of Waterkeepers Florida, we thank Commissioner Fried, Governor DeSantis and the Florida Cabinet for designating April as Water Conservation Month. Water conservation is critical to the work we do to protect and restore Florida’s waters. We applaud this resolution and the Cabinet’s commitment to conserving Florida’s waters and the opportunity to partner with our leaders to protect our waters for future generations,” said Lisa Rinaman, St. Johns Riverkeeper.

On St. Johns Riverkeeper’s facebook page, yesterday: Continue reading