Hamilton, Madison Counties Health Lift Advisory for the Withlacoochee River 2020-03-26

2020-03-31: Zero E. coli at Nankin and State Line, Withlacoochee River 2020-03-29.

Received 6:57 PM 26 March 2020. For the data on which this decision was based, see Cleaner downstream with no rain 2020-03-24.

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03.26.20-Withlacoochee-River-Lifted-Hamilton-Madison-0001
PDF

March 26, 2020

HEALTH OFFICIALS IN HAMILTON,
MADISON COUNTY LIFT ADVISORY FOR
THE WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER

Contact: Continue reading

Cleaner downstream with no rain 2020-03-24

Update 2020-03-26: Hamilton, Madison Counties Health Lift Advisory for the Withlacoochee River 2020-03-26.

Suzy Hall’s Sunday testing at State Line Boat Ramp started the good news this week.

So WWALS can continue testing, WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman just bought another case of Petrifilm, to the tune of $753.25. That’s a big buy for a tiny nonprofit such as WWALS. You can help.

[Suzy Hall retrieving test bucket at State Line Ramp 2020-03-22]
Suzy Hall retrieving test bucket at State Line Ramp 2020-03-22

The Withlacoochee River is clean this week, and even Okapilco Creek is cleaner than it sometimes is.

[Clean Sunday through Tuesday]
Clean Sunday through Tuesday
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida data, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

At State Line Boat Ramp, Suzy Hall for WWALS, the City of Valdosta, and Madison Health all got Continue reading

Gone virtual: Banks Lake Full Pink Moon Paddle, 2020-04-08

Due to the virus pandemic, WWALS is cancelling the next Full Moon Paddle at Banks Lake, formerly scheduled for sunset, Wednesday, April 8, 2020, with that lunar-monthly series to resume later.

But we have livestreams, videos, and online events, as well as outings and events planned for months from now, while WWALS advocacy continues. You can help.

Shelby Miller will livestream from Banks Lake at the originally-scheduled date and time for the Banks Lake Full Pink Moon Paddle, so you can see as if you were there.

[Sunset behind paddlers]
Photo: Gretchen Quarterman, Sunset behind paddlers, Banks Lake, 2020-02-09

It probably would be possible to hold this Full Moon Paddle, since there is no shuttle so no cramming into vehicles, people could put their boats in one by one, and on the lake everybody is far apart, but we’re not going to do that.

Lakeland and Lanier County have declared a 9PM curfew, as I believe have Nashville and Adel, Georgia, in Berrien and Cook Counties, and there is a case confirmed in Clinch County. Lowndes County and all its cities have issued a “voluntary” stay-home order prohibiting gatherings of 10 or more people, as has the state of Georgia. Madison County, Florida, similarly is trying for no groups of 10 or more. While some of these orders currently expire on April 6, don’t be surprised if they get extended.

WWALS does not want to provide any opportunity for anybody to violate any of those things.

So, please stay home and help stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease it causes.

We’re not postponing this outing: we’re cancelling. Whenever the curfews and the like are clear enough, we will resume our series of lunar-monthly WWALS Full Moon Paddles on Banks Lake.

While you’re home, please post your pictures and videos of your outings on lakes, rivers, creeks, swamps, springs, etc. Here are some from the Full Storm Moon Paddle on Banks Lake, February 9, 2020.

[Paddlers golden in sunset]
Paddlers golden in sunset

Feel free to get a ticket to the WWALS kayak raffle of an Emotion Stealth 11 Sit-On-Top Kayak with Carlisle Paddle.

WWALS Kayak Raffle 2020-07-12

You can attend some of our virtual events, such as Continue reading

Videos: WWALS Booth 2020-03-21

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman had a great idea of setting up the WWALS booth in the woods (with gnats and mosquitos), since we can’t take it to festivals right now.


[Welcome to the booth]
Welcome to the booth

She says, “Welcome to the booth. Unfortunately because we are quarantined, we can’t have the booth out anywhere, and y’all can’t come to visit us even if we were out somewhere, but we thought we could give some information and have our educational information available for you for however long you are at home.” Stay tuned for more episodes!

Postponed: Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race

Due to the pandemic of the novel Coronavirus, and to help prevent the spread of the virus-caused disease COVID-19, WWALS and FORB are postponing the Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race (BLRPR), until a date to be announced later.

Anyone who has bought a BLRPR ticket and wants a refund, let us know. Otherwise, all tickets will remain valid at the eventual rescheduled date and time.

If Georgia state parks are open at the originally scheduled date and race start time of 9:30 AM, Saturday, April 25, 2020, one or two WWALS members will livestream from the BLRPR site and race course; six feet apart, of course. Stay tuned for details.

[Closer]
Closer

For more Continue reading

Filthy Crooked Creek, clean Okapilco Creek upstream 2020-03-20

Update 2020-03-26: Cleaner downstream with no rain 2020-03-24.

Two days after rain, Crooked Creek was still filthy Friday. Some of that probably got into the Withlacoochee River. WWALS continues testing. You can help.

[Too high]
Too high
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

This is in Brooks County, Georgia.

[Crooked Creek @ Monument Church Road]
Crooked Creek @ Monument Church Road

Crooked Creek at Monument Church Road was bad enough, 1,366 cfu/100 mL E. coli, which is above the Georgia Adopt-A Stream alert level of 1,000. See also what do these numbers mean?

[Crooked Cr @ MCR]
Crooked Cr @ MCR

The stench was mostly coming from Continue reading

Little River @ Lawson Mill Pond Road 2020-03-20

Must be spring, people are fishing on the Little River.

[Fishing]
Fishing

I took these pictures from Continue reading

Again: alert water quality at Knights Ferry, Withlacoochee River 2020-03-18

2020-03-23: Filthy Crooked Creek, clean Okapilco Creek upstream 2020-03-20.

Yet again, over alert level of E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River, after elevated levels on Okapilco Creek. WWALS will be testing today. You can help.

[Okapilco Creek and Knights Ferry]
Okapilco Creek and Knights Ferry

Most of the week most of the numbers were green, for less than the 126 cfu/100 mL E. coli that Georgia Adopt-A-Stream, EPA, and FDEP recommend for longterm averages. This was in both Valdosta and Florida Department of Health (really Madison Health) testing. See also what do these numbers mean?

[Good week until Wednesday and Friday]
Good week until Wednesday and Friday
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of all known data sources see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Until numbers started going up on Okapilco Creek Monday, March 16, 2020. The USGS gauge at US 84 on the Withlacoochee River recorded a smidgeon of rain that day. Given the prevailing weather patterns that day, with rain coming in from the west, apparently some rain fell on Brooks County before it got to the river.

I was over at Crooked Creek on Monument Church Road in Brooks County to test on Tuesday, March 17, when rain fell in a gully-washer.

[Closeup Bucket in Crooked Creek]
Closeup Bucket in Crooked Creek

That’s the fastest I’ve seen Crooked Creek, and it Continue reading

Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (PDF)

Earth Day Cleanup Postponed due to pandemic: WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, GA, Madison County, FL

Hahira, Georgia, March 4, 2020 — We are postponing the Earth Day Cleanup and Paddle previously scheduled for April 18, 2020, at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River. http://wwals.net/?p=51816 The organizers, WWALS, Georgia Power, Valdosta, and Brooks County, Georgia, remain committed to holding this event in the future, as does , and Madison County, Florida. Meanwhile, WWALS plans a virtual outing by livestreaming a few people at the site on the original day, six feet apart, of course.

[WWALS and Lowndes County]
WWALS and Lowndes County signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.

“At Georgia Power our focus during this challenging time is to ensure uninterrupted power so you can keep your daily life running,” said Joe Brownlee, Southwest Region Director for Georgia Power. “We are currently taking preventive measures to keep our teams healthy as spring storm season approaches. Hopefully we’ll be past this soon and can again join in fun times on the river.”

[GA Power H Rgb]
GA Power H Rgb

“The City of Valdosta remains committed to this cleanup event and its partnership with Georgia Power and our area Suwannee Riverkeeper and will work with all to find an agreeable date down the road,” said Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson.

[City of Valdosta]
City of Valdosta

“We are looking forward to a later date for this cleanup and paddle, so we can assist with promoting the event on our Brooks County FB page, and to recruit some participation to represent us,” said Jessica J. McKinney, Brooks County, Georgia, Administrator.

[Brooks County]
Brooks County

“Madison County has postponed our river cleanup until a later date,” said Madison County, Florida, Chairman Donnie Waldrep, Sr., referring to a cleanup planned for that same day in Madison County on the Withlacoochee River. He added, “I’d love to see this be an annual event.”

Madison County, Florida, Board of County Commissioners

“Joe and Scott and I already discussed on the radio last week that we probably could not do the paddle part of this event, due to the shuttle requiring crowding people into a few vehicles. http://wwals.net/?p=51877 While a cleanup might be possible by simply keeping everybody spread out, we’d rather be safe than sorry,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Before that, we had Continue reading

Request comment deadline extension and public hearings about titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper to Army Corps 2020-03-19

We urge everyone else to also send the Army Corps a comment letter asking for an extension of the comment deadline and for public hearings.

For more things you can do to oppose this bad mining application, see How to Comment.

[Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River]
Map: TPM Mine, Okefenokee Swamp, Suwannee River
in the WWALS map of All Public Landings in the Suwannee River Basin.
The TPM mine is marked in the right center by the highlighted crossed hammers,
due north of the line of four Chemours titanium mines in north Florida.

Below is the text of the letter WWALS just sent to the Corps as a PDF.

March 19, 2020

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
Attention: Ms. Holly Ross, holly.a.ross@usace.army.mil,
CESAS-SpecialProjects@usace.army.mil
1104 North Westover Boulevard, Suite 9, Albany, Georgia 31707

Cc: Stephen Wiedl, Wetlands Unit, stephen.wiedl@dnr.ga.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division,
Water Protection Branch, 7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Atlanta, GA 30334

Re: Applicant: Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, Application Number: SAS-2018-00554

Dear Colonel Hibner,

Regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 by Twin Pines Minerals, LLC, of Birmingham, Alabama, Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to extend the public comment period and to hold public hearings, as detailed at the end of this letter.

Review of the current 219-page Application and the hundreds of pages of appendices is not practicable in Continue reading