Tag Archives: Florida

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

FDEP summoned to Baker County about EZBase coal ash byproduct 2019-04-16

JEA “specifically declined the invitation” by the Baker BOCC to come talk about EZBase, a road pavement material made from coal ash, and spread on roads and parking lots in Baker County, Florida. FDEP accepted an invitation and will present this Tuesday. The Baker (FL) BOCC and Mark Lyon invite everyone to that meeting.

When: Meeting starts 5PM, FDEP presentation about 6PM,
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Where: Baker County Courthouse, 339 E Macclenny Ave # 113, Macclenny, FL 32063

Event: facebook, meetup

Photo: Michael Rivera, of Baker County, Florida, Courthouse. CC Attribution, Share Alike
Photo: Michael Rivera, of Baker County, Florida, Courthouse. CCAttributionShare Alike

Most of Baker County, including its county seat Macclenny, is in the St Marys River watershed. However, south along FL 121 before the Union County line on the way to Fort Butler, part of Baker County is in the Suwannee River Basin, and we don’t know whether EZBase may have been spread on roads there.

Plus JEA shipped coal ash from Jacksonville to the Veolia Pecan Row landfill in Lowndes County, Georgia, which is in the Suwannee River Basin, a quarter mile uphill from the Withlacoochee River and in a Floridan Aquifer recharge zone.

While environmentalists everywhere are celebrating North Carolina DEQ’s Order for Duke Energy to Excavate Coal Ash at Six Remaining Sites, let’s remember the decision for each of those six sites was “Movement of coal ash to a new or existing lined landfill”. We don’t want Duke or JEA or other coal ash in our landfills or “recycled” as EZBase and spread on roads. The utilities that created the coal ash should have to bear the expense of disposing of it safely on their own land.

JEA also owns Continue reading

AGL report to PHMSA about Homerville, GA explosion, 2019-09-17

AGL’s report to PHMSA was so lacking that PHMSA added this comment box:

Please confirm these
injuries involved in-patient
overnight hospitalization.

Atlanta Gas Light (AGL) did mention hospitalization in its narrative on the last page, but even there did not use the terms “in-patient” or “overnight”, much less “third-degree burns” or “airlifted to the burn unit at Shands in Gainseville, Florida”.

[Please confirm these injuries involved in-patient overnight hospitalization.]
Please confirm these injuries involved in-patient overnight hospitalization.

But PHMSA’s comment is mild compared to GA-PSC staff’s more than $2 mllion recommended fine for “failure to properly investigate the damage which led to this explosion”. See previous WWALS blog post for that and other GA-PSC staff comments on this AGL Incident Report – Gas Distribution System to the U.S Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Agency (PHMSA), including:

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Videos and slides: Suwannee Riverkeeper @ Live Oak Woman’s Club 2019-04-05

Last Wednesday, I invited the Live Oak Woman’s Club to the meeting in Valdosta this Wednesday evening between elected officials of the dozen downstream Florida counties and Valdosta.

[FL Counties Rivers Task Force in Valdosta 2019-04-10]
FL Counties Rivers Task Force in Valdosta 2019-04-10

I talked about all the items on the alides, plus some topics raised by questions from the audience.

For example, they were horrified to hear that (according to GA-PSC), AGL did not follow its own corporate procedures to investigate the Homerville, GA pipeline gas explosion. Eileen Box mentioned that the source of AGL’s gas, Southern Natural Gas, also has a pipeline that runs through her property in Suwannee County.

Most of the attendees at the Live Oak Woman’s Club had not heard that Sabal Trail leaked gas at its Hildreth Compressor Station in Suwannee County in September 2018, and they were not pleased to learn Sabal Trail took a week to get around to telling FDEP about that.

[Img36]
LNG and FERC

They wanted to know about liquid natural gas (LNG), and they were again horrified to learn that Continue reading

Live Oak Woman’s Club Chorus 2019-04-05

Thank you, Live Oak Woman’s Club, for inviting me to speak Wednesday. Great Chorus!

Here you are, singing a snippet of Easter Parade, and all of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, with choreography!

Several people have suggested you may want to 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

Deese-Howard Ramp to Gibson County Park, Suwannee River, 2019-06-01

This is a 12 mile paddle on the Suwannee River. We will meet at Deese-Howard Public Boat Ramp at 8:30 to unload kayaks and gear before the 12 mile shuttle to Gibson County Park begins at 9 a.m. You will probably need to use the Lat/Long coordinates with your GPS to find the ramp easier.

We will pass Holton Creek River Camp, where we will stop for a break and a swim.

Just before the takeout this section of the river also includes the Alapaha Rise, an interesting natural feature that is worth the short side trip.

When: Gather 8:30 AM, Launch 10AM, Saturday, June 1, 2019

Put In: Deese Howard Boat Ramp, 107th Road, Live Oak, FL 32060, Suwannee County.

GPS: 30.41439, -82.96292

Take Out: Gibson Park Ramp, 6844 SW CR 751, Jasper, FL 32052. From Jasper, Hamilton County, FL, travel southwest on SW CR 249 to SW CR 751; turn left and boat ramp is on the right in Gibson County Park, in Hamilton County.

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Event: facebook, meetup

Alapaha Rise,
Photo: Beth Gammie, of Alapaha River Rise, on Southwings flight for WWALS with pilot E.M. Beck, 2016-11-23.

Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper at Live Oak Woman’s Club 2019-04-05

Update 2019-04-08: slides and video.

In Suwannee County, Florida, at the Live Oak Woman’s Club, Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman will talk about what WWALS does and how people can help. Thanks to Eileen Box and the Club for the invitation.

When: noon, Friday, April 5, 2019

Where: Woman’s Club of Live Oak, 1308 11th St SW, Live Oak, FL 32064

Event: facebook, meetup

John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman speaking with all nine Georgia Riverkeepers, 2019-02-06

I will talk about Valdosta sewage spills, Georgia Sewage Spills Reports, other E. coli in the rivers, water quality testing and how you can help test, and on April 10th Florida counties Rivers Task Force meets Valdosta City Council.

Have some fun with us, too, August 24th at the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest.

Race or just paddle April 27th at the BIG Little River Paddle Race, or join us for a week, June 15-21, with 300 people on Paddle Georgia down Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers, ending with the Final Feast catered by WWALS at Advent Christian Village in Dowling Park, Friday, June 21st. Or join us in our watery living room April 19th and every full moon sunset at Continue reading