WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER® WWALS advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, and Upper and Lower Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities.
WWALS: Maps D-*, Community Assessment, Greater Brooks 2030 Comprehensive Plan 2007 [Up]
It has a lot to say already about rivers, creeks, swamps, and aquifers.
-jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®
You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!
IV. EXISTING LAND USE and DEVELOPMENT PATTERNS (cont.)[page 12] ...
2) Areas Requiring Special Attention
Staff evaluated the existing land use patterns and trends within each jurisdiction and identified several areas requiring special attention. These included:
APPENDIX D: NATURAL AND CULTURAL RESOURCES[page 65] ...
GENERAL PHYSICAL ENVIRONMENT...
Brooks County is divided into one physiographic district, the Tifton Upland, which is part of the Atlantic Plain Major Division (Coastal Plain Province) 3.
4 03110203) and the Little River (HUC 03110204), both of which flow southeastward, while the Ochlockonee Basin can subdivided into a smaller sub-watershed, known as the Aucilla (HUC 03110203), which flows southwestward.
4 HUC stands for Hydrologic Unit Code and these codes are a way of identifying all of the drainage basins in the United States in a nested arrangement from largest (Regions) to smallest (Cataloging Units).
ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING CRITERIA
In 1989, the Georgia Planning Act encouraged each local government to develop a comprehensive plan to guide its activities. In order to provide the local governments with a guideline so that they could prepare their comprehensive plan, the Department of Community Affairs (DCA) developed a set of minimum requirements that each local plan must meet known as the “Minimum Planning Standards.” Part of the Minimum Planning Standards is the Part V Environmental Planning Criteria that specifically deal with the protection of water supply watersheds, groundwater recharge areas, and wetlands. River corridors and mountains were added through a separate Act in 1991. In order for a comprehensive plan to meet the Minimum Planning Standards, it must identify whether any of these environmentally sensitive areas exist within the local government's jurisdiction, and if so, must prepare local regulations to protect these resources.
Water Supply Watersheds[page 67]
Freshwater wetlands are defined by federal law to be "those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions." Wetlands generally include bogs, marshes, wet prairies, and swamps of all kinds. When a wetland functions properly, it provides water quality protection, fish and wildlife habitat, natural floodwater storage, and reduction in the erosive potential of surface water; in addition to recreational opportunities, aesthetic benefits, and sites for research and education. However, a degraded wetland is less able to effectively perform these functions. Human activities cause wetland degradation and loss by changing water quality, quantity, and flow rates, increasing pollutant inputs, and changing species composition as a result of disturbance and the introduction of nonnative species.
Over the past several decades, expansion of both agricultural and urban development in Georgia has caused a steady reduction of wetlands acreage. This has resulted in the destruction of valuable plant and animal habitats, increased magnitude of floodwaters, and the removal of natural filters for surface water drainage thereby endangering water quality throughout the county. Draining wetlands for agricultural purposes is still a common, but declining practice, while development pressure is emerging as the largest cause of wetland loss. Many natural wetlands are in poor condition and man-made wetlands fail to replace the diverse plant and animal communities destroyed by development. Prior to developing parcels containing wetlands, or that are suspected of having wetlands, a detailed wetlands survey and all applicable requirements under Section 404 of the Federal Clean Water Act should be completed.
Groundwater Recharge Areas
Most groundwater recharge areas allow a certain amount of precipitation to reach the water table, while others allow more infiltration. Areas that transmit the most precipitation are often referred to as “most significant” groundwater recharge areas. Based on “Groundwater Pollution Susceptibility Map of Georgia”, Hydrologic Atlas 20, 1992 Edition, Brooks County has several “most significant” groundwater recharge areas.
The groundwater pollution susceptibility rating for Brooks County is predominately “Average”, with the exception of the southeast corner of the county, which has a “High” susceptibility rate based on “Groundwater Pollution Susceptibility Map of Georgia”, Hydrologic Atlas 20, 1992 Edition.
These recharge areas make up 12,387 acres, or 4 percent of the entire county. All aquifer recharge areas are vulnerable to both urban and agricultural development. Pollutants from stormwater runoff, septic tanks, and excess pesticides and/or fertilizers in agricultural areas can access a groundwater aquifer more easily through these recharge areas. Once in the aquifer, pollutants can spread uncontrollably to other parts of the aquifer thereby decreasing or endangering water quality for an entire region. Therefore, development of any kind in these areas, including installation of septic tanks, should be discouraged.
Protected River Corridors
When following the generally winding stream channels, the length of the corridor along the Little River is approximately 40 miles running from the northeastern county boundary to where it joins the Withlacoochee River. The corridor length along the Withlacoochee River is approximately 33 miles and flows into Florida, which includes the segment where the river returns back into Georgia east of SR 31. Therefore the total length of designated river corridors within Brooks County is approximately 73 miles.
Under the Mountain and River Corridor Protection Act, Brooks County is required to adopt a "Corridor Protection Plan" for these river segments in accordance with the minimum criteria contained in the Act and as adopted by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
OTHER ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Public Water Supply Sources
Typical of Coastal Plain areas, the Brooks County's consumer water comes from underground aquifers, which are porous underground rock layers containing water. The main aquifer beneath Brooks County is the Floridian aquifer, which consists of confined limestone, dolostone, and calcarious sand. This aquifer serves as the water supply watershed for the cities of Quitman, [page 69] Barwick, Morven, and Pavo municipal water systems, while the unincorporated communities of Baden, Barney, Dixie, Grooverville, Nankin, and New Rock (Sand) Hill operate off private well supply. Beneath the Floridian aquifer are the Claiborne and Clayton aquifers. The Floridian aquifer is principally recharged immediately south of the Fall Line, which stretches across central Georgia from Columbus to Macon and Augusta. This is the point at which streams from harder rock formations of the Piedmont cross into softer rock formations of the Coastal Plain. Most sedimentary rock formations of the Coastal Plain begin at the ground surface just south of the Fall Line; therefore this is where most aquifer water originates.
Total water consumption in Brooks County averages approximately 6.3 million gallons per day. Approximately 4.9 million gallons (78 percent) comes from groundwater and the remaining 1.4 million gallons (22 percent) comes from surface water. Table D-1 depicts the Greater Brooks Average Daily Water Consumption.
Plant and Animal Habitats[page 73]
River corridors, wetlands, and lakes provide natural habitat for a variety of rare and common plant and animal species. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — Wildlife Resources Division — Georgia Natural Heritage Program has worked with a number of groups to compile a list of Georgia's rare species. The most recent data on threatened or endangered plant and animal species in Brooks County is from October 2004. Table D-2 lists the Endangered or Threatened Plant Species in Brooks County and Table D-3 lists the Endangered or Threatened Animal Species in Brooks County.
In 1994, a lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) by the Sierra Club, Georgia Environmental Organization, Inc., Coosa River Basin Initiative Inc., Trout Unlimited, and Ogeechee River Valley Association for the failure to prepare Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), under provisions under the Clean Water Act, for the State of Georgia.
A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a river, stream, or lake can receive and still be considered safe and healthy. A TMDL is a means for recommending controls needed to meet water quality standards, which are set by the state and determines how much of a pollutant can be present in a waterbody. If the pollutant is over the set limit, a water quality violation has occurred. If a stream is polluted to the extent that there is a water quality standard violation, there cannot be any new additions (or “loadings”) of the pollutant into the stream until a TMDL is developed. Pollutants can come from point source and non-point source pollution. Examples of “pollutants” include, but are not limited to: Point Source Pollution- wastewater treatment plant discharges and Non-point Source Pollution- runoff from urban, agricultural, and forested area such as animal waste, litter, antifreeze, gasoline, motor oil, pesticides, metals, and sediment.
In 2000, the SGRDC entered into a contract with the GA Department of Natural Resources (DNR) — Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to prepare seven (7) local TMDL Implementation Plans for stream segments in the Suwannee Basin that had been identified as impaired water bodies due to high fecal coliform (FC). Of the seven (7) TMDL Implementation Plans located in the Suwannee Basin, none of them were located within Brooks County.
In March 2006, the GA EPD released the DRAFT Georgia 2006 305(b)/303(d) list. Within the Suwannee Basin, there are 44 stream segments listed with impairments for low dissolved oxygen (DO), elevated levels of fecal coliform (FC), and trophic-weighted residue value of Mercury in fish tissue (TWR). Of the 44 stream segments, five (5) stream segments are located within Brooks County: Mule Creek, Okapilco Creek, Piscola Creek, Pride Branch (formerly known as Negro Branch), and the Withlacoochee River. No formal map has been released by GA EPD at this time of the DRAFT Georgia 2006 305(b)/303(d) list. Table D-6 lists The Brooks County 2006305(b)/303(d) List:
By using proper forest management and sound conservation practices and techniques, including best management practices (BMPs), forests can continue to provide benefits for future generations. Those involved with silvicultural (forestry) operations should be aware and implementing BMPs to minimize non-point source pollution, such as soil erosion and stream sedimentation, and thermal pollution.11 Failure to follow BMPs may result in civil and criminal fines and penalties. Some counties already require plan reviews, permits, fees, performance bonds, and compliance audits.