Tag Archives: BMAP

Valdosta Sewage Spills Workshop at Florida Senate 2019-03-20

A Florida Senate Committee has scheduled a Workshop on Valdosta Sewage Spills.

Table, Committee

The same session this Wednesday afternoon will hear three water bills, SB 1100 about funding water well testing, which is relevant to the recent detection of E. coli in for example Hamilton County wells, SB 1758, which includes some changes to Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) requirements and requirements for wastewater treatment plants to notify customers of unlawful discharges, and SB 1552 about Red Tide mitigation.

Event: facebook, meetup

Florida Senator Bill Montford, District 3 When I went by Senator Bill Montford’s office last Wednesday, his staffer said they would be scheduling this workshop, with public input. They have done so. Senator Montford is the Chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. His District 3 includes Hamilton, Madison, and Taylor Counties, all of which are members of the twelve-county Florida Rivers Task Force and signatories on its Resolution asking for assistance from Florida and Georgia about Valdosta sewage spills. The Withlacoochee River, into which much of Valdosta’s raw sewage spills have gone, is the border between Madison and Hamilton Counties, and the Alapaha River, into which basin other Valdosta spills have gone, runs through Hamilton County. Taylor County is not on either of those rivers nor on the Suwannee River, yet its economy is affected by the stigma of Valdosta’s sewage spills.

The Florida Senate, COMMITTEE MEETING NOTICE,

ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES
Senator Montford, Chair
Senator Albritton, Vice Chair

MEETING DATE: Wednesday, March 20, 2019

TIME: 4:00—6:00 p.m.

PLACE: Mallory Horne Committee Room, 37 Senate Building [404 S. Monroe, Tallahassee, FL 32399]

AMENDMENT DEADLINE: Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida signs Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida 2018-12-19

In one of its first actions at its first official board meeting, WATERKEEPERS(R) FLORIDA voted to sign the Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida, December 19, 2018.

This opposition throughout Florida to phosphate mines anywhere in the state is especially timely, with public hearings and a vote coming up in January soon in Bradford County on the HPS II phosphate mine application.

A dozen of its thirteen members had already signed for their individual organizations. According to its bylaws, all members of WATERKEEPERS Florida are now signed on with the organization. Besides, the thirteenth member, 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

Cyanobacteria infecting Florida political races

We are fortunate in the Suwannee River Basin in not having this bad a problem, but are similarities. Greg Allen, NPR, 7 September 2018, Toxic Algae Seeps Into Florida Congressional Races,

For months now, mats of algae from Lake Okeechobee have been flowing down the river, bringing toxins that can affect people and animals. In beach communities east of the lake, the algae have had a big impact on tourism and businesses.

With more toxic algae blooms on Florida’s west coast and a red tide algae bloom causing massive fish kills in the Gulf of Mexico, water quality is increasingly having a big impact on key midterm races in Florida. While Democrats tend to be more outspoken on environmental issues, Republican candidates are also speaking up because they’re feeling the heat.

Outflows from Lake Okeechobee

Seems to me all the candidates are dancing around the real issue, which is Continue reading

Florida Waterkeepers United visit FDEP 2018-08-01

Seven of the fourteen Florida Waterkeepers visited the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to express our serious concern and a sense of urgency to protect and restore Florida’s rivers, coast, bays, estuaries, lakes, springs, and aquifer, especially about resiliency after hurricanes, harmful algal blooms, BMAPs, and phosphate mines. I congratulated Noah Valenstein on his meteoric rise: only two and a half years ago he was just starting as head of the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD), and now he’s the head of FDEP.

L-R: Andy Hayslip (Tampa), Georgia Ackerman (Apalachicola), Marty Baum (Indian), Jen Lomberk (Matanzas), Drew Bartlett (FDEP), Whitney Gray (FDEP), Rick Frey (St. Marys), Lisa Rinaman (St. Johns), Noah Valenstein (Sec., FDEP), Shannon Blankinship
L-R: Andy Hayslip (Tampa Bay Waterkeeper), Georgia Ackerman (Apalachicola Riverkeeper), Marty Baum (Indian Riverkeeper), Jen Lomberk (Matanzas Riverkeeper), Drew Bartlett (Deputy Secretary for Ecosystem Restoration, FDEP), Whitney Gray (Administrator, Florida Resilient Coastlines, FDEP), Rick Frey (St. Marys Riverkeeper), Lisa Rinaman (St. Johns Riverkeeper), Noah Valenstein (Secretary, FDEP), Shannon Blankinship (Advocacy Director, St. Johns Riverkeeper), John S. Quarterman (hat, Suwannee Riverkeeper), Tom Frick (back, Director, Division of Environmental Restoration, FDEP); Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS

Press Release: Florida Waterkeepers Unite at FDEP

Continue reading

BMAP petition letters including from a Florida state springs expert

Unlike FDEP’s BMAP plans, “When a new building code is final in Florida, [Rusty] Payton [CEO, Florida Home Builders Association] said, “there’s always six months between the final rule and the date the rule takes effect.” Because of his organization’s petition for more time to file a protest, none of Florida’s new Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) have gone into effect yet, which gives spring and river advocates (and FDEP) more time to try to fix them.

Dinah Voyles Pulver, Daily Commercial, 30 July 2018, Groups protest new Florida springs action plans,

A sweeping effort to adopt action plans to improve water quality in 13 springs systems across the state is on hold after a dozen groups and individuals asked to intervene with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, including one of the department’s own springs experts.

Thomas Greenhalgh, a hydrogeologist with the department’s Florida Geological Survey, is one of two people who asked for an administrative hearing on one of the 13 “basin management action plans” signed by Noah Valenstein in late June.

Suiting up, Thomas Greenhalgh
Thomas Greenhalgh suiting up before releasing dye into the Dead River of the Alapaha River to go into the Dead River Sink, 2016-06-22, Picture by John S. Quarterman for WWALS.

“There are many claims and statements in the BMAP that I believe are inaccurate and unsubstantiated,” wrote Greenhalgh in seeking a state hearing on the plan for the Suwannee River, where he owns property.

He’s not alone.

In addition Continue reading

Final Suwannee River BMAP 2018-05-22

Did you know the Final Suwannee River BMAP was released last week? Apparently not many others did, either. Here’s the letter I sent FDEP about that.

Suwannee River BMAP and PFA boundaries, The Problem


PDF

 June 4, 2018

Nitrate above and below ground, Pages Mr. Noah Valenstein, Secretary
Dept. of Environmental Protection Continue reading

A Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida –Florida Waterkeepers 2017-12-18

Update 2018-12-30: The new organization WATERKEEPERS Florida, as one of its first acts, on December 19, 2018, signed the Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida, thus committing all thirteen of its member organizations.

Update 2018-11-13: Miami Waterkeeper has signed, bringing it to a round dozen Florida Waterkeepers.

Signers, Resolution

Update 2018-08-18: Calusa Waterkeeper has also signed, bringing it to 11 of the 14 Waterkeepers in Florida. (See also PDF.)

Update 2018-08-01: Five additional signers: Suncoast Waterkeeper, Tampa Bay Waterkeeper, Indian Riverkeeper, St. Marys Riverkeeper, and Collier County Waterkeeper. Seven of us delivered this resolution in person to FDEP Secretary Noah Valenstein.

Delivered via email as PDF to the Union BOCC before their phosphate mine workshop of Monday, December 18, 2017.


A Resolution
Against Phosphate Mines in Florida

WHEREAS, Waterkeeper Alliance Members are obligated and dedicated to protect the water resources, citizens’ interests, and related benefits in their jurisdictions; and

WHEREAS, Resolution WHEREAS, phosphate mines have been shown to threaten and cause actual harm to these resources, interest, and related benefits; and

WHEREAS, there are several phosphate mine projects in various stages of permitting in local, state, and federal agencies including county and city governments, Water Management Districts (WMDs), Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); and

WHEREAS, there seems to be no public list of current phosphate mines and related facitlities, which include at least

Continue reading

Global Croplands, Suwannee River Basin

You can see on these maps that the Suwannee River Basin is massively agricultural, except where it’s forestry or swamp or other wetlands. Thus it’s no wonder that most of the nitrate runoff problem here is due to agriculture, as shown in the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs).

Basin Wide, Maps

WWALS Science Committee Chair Tom Potter points to this Global Croplands map to illustrate the BMAP issues. The question remains of whether agricultural best management practices as advocated in the recent BMAP meetings will be sufficient to deal with the problem, considering they haven’t decreased it in the past decade.

Global Croplands About: Continue reading

Pilgrim’s Pride to pay $1.43 million Suwannee River pollution to settle lawsuit by Environment Florida and Sierra Club 2017-11-14

Despite what we heard at the BMAP meeting Tuesday, it turns out Best Management Practices (BMP) are not all that can be done to fix fertilizer nitrate runoff in the Suwannee Rier Basin. “More than $1 million of the Pilgrim’s penalty would fund a program to help nearby farmers reduce their pollution as well.” The Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) could also ask the legislature for further such funding, in addition to recommending BMPs. Congratulations, Environment Florida and Sierra Club, for doing what the state of Florida has not!

Pilgrims Pride, US 90,
Photo: Dominic Gheesling for WWALS on Southwings flight 22 October 2016, Pilgrims Pride, US 90, 30.3648380, -83.1636130

Another chicken breeder is setting up in the Suwannee River Basin, near Quitman in Brooks County Georgia, next to Okapilco Creek, which flows into the Withlacoochee River and then the Suwannee River. We’ll be watching.

Drains south, Piscola Creek

  • Video by Environment Florida, starring Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (Sierra Club), Jeniffer Rubiello (Environment Florida), and Heather Govern (attorney, National Environmental Law Center), and Whitey Markle (Suwannee-St Johns Group, Sierra Club Florida). Continue reading