Category Archives: River

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

Update 2020-07-10: Data behind Florida bacterial advisory for Withlacoochee River 2020-07-09.

Update 2020-07-09: Possible bacterial contamination, Withlacoochee River, Hamilton, Madison Co. FL 2020-07-09.

Thanks to new WWALS testers Michael and Jacob Bachrach assisting Suzy Hall, results for samples taken Friday, July 3, 2020, are all green for Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps on the Withlacoochee River. The samples I took upstream were also good: zero for Hagan Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Withlacoochee River, and 333 for Folsom Bridge Landing at GA 122 on the Little River.

Suzy did remark, “The mosquitoes got a little annoying at Nankin!”

You can help by donating to the WWALS water quality testing program.

[Michael and Jacob Bachrach testing]
Michael and Jacob Bachrach testing

There was quite a bit of rain Friday, but almost all upstream on the Little River and upstream of Okapilco Creek at Moultrie (or Okapilco River, as Colquitt County calls it). While there was heavy rain at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River at the east side of Brooks County, meanwhile on the west side of Brooks at Dixie there was not much rain. So if we’re lucky, not much Continue reading

Columbia County, FL, Parks Ordinance, No. 2020-08, 2020-06-18

Columbia County Attorney Joel Foreman sent a copy of this ordinance (see PDF) within minutes of being asked, along with this explanation:

Attached is the version of the Ordinance that was signed. The amendment was made at adoption to 78-3(B), adding that the Board would approve any supplemental rules by resolution.

Columbia County, FL BOCC Special Called Meeting 2020-06-18

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson posted the below explanation on facebook (reposted here with permission): Continue reading

Clean Waterways Act won’t fix water quality –Waterkeepers Florida 2020-07-01

Plus FL SB 712 still doesn’t fund or implement regular, frequent, water quality monitoring from the state line to the Gulf, like Valdosta, GA, is doing three times weekly on 40 miles of the Withlacoochee River to the state line.

Jen Lomberk, Orlando Sentinel, 1 July 2020, Clean Waterways Act won’t fix water quality,

[Orlando Sentinel screenshot]
Orlando Sentinel screenshot

Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed into law SB 712 — the self-proclaimed “Clean Waterways Act” — an ambitious misnomer for a bill that claims to be the solution to our mounting water quality issues, but falls far short of that mark.

This bill has been praised by its supporters (”Sen. Mayfield: Clean Waterways Act would be major step forward,” June 30 online) as one of the most environmentally progressive pieces of legislation in over a decade. But looking back at the cuts and rollbacks that our environmental regulations were subjected to under the last state administration, that really isn’t saying much. Jen Lomberk Jen Lomberk (Courtesy photo)

At 111 pages, the bill largely pays lip service to most of Florida’s major sources of pollution, but lacks the specificity and enforceability to actually solve any of the problems.

Proponents of the bill claim that it implements recommendations of the Blue Green Algae Task Force, but even those common sense, albeit vague recommendations will not be nearly achieved through the implementation of SB 712. For example, the Task Force recommended that projected changes in demographics, land use, and hydrology should be incorporated into the BMAP process.

Think about it. We have 1,000 people moving to our state every day. That means that over the 20-year life of a BMAP, millions of people will have Continue reading

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

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

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

Subaru featured Tom Potter for science, cleanup, outings, and water quality

“If you get people out on the river and they have a positive experience with nature, they will help protect it,” wrote Dr. Tom Potter, pictured during the March 2019 Onemile Branch Cleanup at Drexel Park during Azalea Festival.

Kara Pound, Subaru Drive, Winter 2019, 2019 Subaru Drive Community Champions,

We are thrilled to celebrate these exceptional Subaru owners who embody the Subaru Love Promise by giving their time and talent to help their communities.

[The catch]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, Tom Potter at Onemile Branch Cleanup during Azalea Festival, Drexel Park, Valdosta, GA, 2019-03-10.

The Watershed Protector

Tom Potter, 69
Valdosta, Georgia
Vehicle:
Subaru Outback
Volunteering: WWALS Watershed Coalition, which works to protect watersheds in South Georgia and North Florida

“I have a Ph.D. in environmental chemistry and a lengthy background in the science of water quality — I worked as Continue reading