Tag Archives: Georgia

WWALS at South Georgia Pride Saturday 2019-09-21

Come on down to the South Georgia Pride Festival in Saunders Park in Valdosta this Saturday. At the WWALS booth you can play the froggy toss game and talk about our outings and advocacy, including how you can volunteer to help keep our waters clean!

When: Noon-5PM, Saturday, September 21, 2019

Where: John W. Saunders Park, 1151 River Street, Valdosta, Georgia

Event: facebook

[Froggy Toss]
Froggy Toss

Maybe we’ll do water quality tests on Sugar Creek. Continue reading

Pictures: WWALS at South Georgia Pride 2018-09-15

It was a fun time last year at South Georgia Pride. Join us at Saunders Park again this Saturday!

[Gretchen at the booth]
Gretchen at the booth

Maybe Barber Spring will be running. Maybe we’ll do water quality tests on Sugar Creek. Continue reading

Make sure we have an adequate amount for departments all across the state in AGL settlement –GA-PSC Commissioner Jason Shaw 2019-09-17

Deferred: the AGL gas explosion settlement agreement, to be sure enough county fire departments are covered, and there is “an adequate amount” to do that. Maybe now Lowndes County and Berrien County and Ray City can be added to the list of departments to get gas detection equipment. No doubt AGL will be happy to provide more funds to accomplish this prevention of explosions such as happened last fall in Homerville, GA.

[Commissioner Jason Shaw]
Commissioner Jason Shaw

Thanks to Commissioner Jason Shaw for speaking up for the people of the state of Georgia at this morning’s GA-PSC meeting.

I would like to hold item R1. I think there are some questions.

Continue reading

AGL pipeline explosion settlement down to 10% on GA-PSC agenda tomorrow morning 2019-09-16 2019-09-17

Update 2019-09-17: Decision deferred for questions.

AGL has whittled GA-PSC staff’s recommended fine of $2,305,000.00 down to $250,000, on the theory that prevention is the goal, not punishment. This item is on GA-PSC’s agenda for 9AM tomorrow morning, September 16 17, 2019. There will be live stream of audio.

[5701 Quarterman Road]
AGL President Bryan Batson (in green shirt) at 5701 Quarterman Road, Lowndes County, Georgia

$110,000 of the settlement is to go to fire departments for gas detectors, plus $70,000 on water and sewer damage prevention educational programs, and $70,000 to the Georgia Pipeline Emergency Responder Initiative (GPERI). At least that $250,000 is 25 times the usual fine. And despite the usual disclaimers of no admission of fault, etc., there is this:

The stipulation states that AGL cannot recover any of the $250,000.00 through rates or by ratepayers. Additionally, if AGLC receives any tax benefits as a result of utilizing the money, all benefits must be passed on to ratepayers.

When Tom Krause, Public Information Office, GA-PSC, sent me these documents about noon today, he added:

As I said, the PSC is continuing investigations into the contractor and the City of Homerville regarding this incident.

Plus there are quite likely private lawsuits still pending.

GA-PSC composed “a list of the 85 fire departments within AGLC’s certificated territory that could receive the gas detectors.”

[Fire Department List Homerville AGL]
Fire Department List Homerville AGL
PDF

Curiously, while Hahira is on that list, Lowndes County is not, even though Continue reading

Free boat rental at WWALS Boomerang, from Georgia to Florida and Back Again 2019-10-26

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Valdosta, GA, September 16, 2019 — Two outfitters will have boats for free rental; thanks, NWXpeditions and VSU Core! Or bring your own, of course. Again this year, Boy Scouts of America, South Georgia Council, will be there. TNT Hot Dogs will have food, and paddlers each get a ticket for a beer at Georgia Beer Company. “There’s still time for more sponsors to sign up!” said Boomerang mastermind Bobby McKenzie, “And you can wear your Halloween costumes!”

[Flyer]
Flyer
PDF

“This is the sort of cross-state-line ecotourism all the local counties say they want to promote, maybe including some friendly Georgia-Florida rivalry,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman, “Paddle racing and leisurely paddling on the idyllic blackwater Withlacoochee River. Plenty of water, no deadfalls, plus shoals!”

Gathering at 11AM, Saturday, October 26, 2019, at State Line Ramp in Georgia, we will paddle into Florida, with staggered starts for turnarounds at 1, 2, and 3 miles, then back to where we started.

Tickets are $20 until October 15th, then $30.

Vendor space is free for nonprofits vested in conservation or stewardship of our waters. There is a $20 fee for for-profit vendors, and because it’s a park a selling permit is required. Thanks to Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority (VLPRA) for use of State Line Boat Ramp.

Sponsors get their name and logo on a banner, in announcements, and in flyers, with various other perks at different levels of sponsorship.

Everything about WWALS Boomerang 2019 is here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2019-10-26–boomerang/

Continue reading

Comments: 20,338 on titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –USACE 2019-09-12

If this and the 27 news articles on radio, TV, and newspapers in Georgia and Florida, several of them carried by Associated Press across the country, plus the ten op-eds and three editorials, is not enough to establish controversy, I wonder what is. Maybe still more comments and news articles and social media?

[Public Notice: 20,338 comments]
Public Notice: 20,338 comments
PDF

Nedra Rhone, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 13 September 2019, Mining proposal near Okefenokee draws more than 20K comments from public

The Suwannee Riverkeeper, on Thursday, sent 22 pages of questions to the Corps and the Georgia Department of Environmental Protection asking the agency to deny the permit. The Riverkeeper joined the SELC and other organizations and individuals in asking the Corps to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, the highest level of analysis available when a proposed federal action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

Also in that AJC story:

Commenters expressed concerns ranging from the acres of wetlands that would be lost to what they considered inadequate studies conducted to determine the potential impact of the mine.

In a letter to the Corps, the Southern Environmental Law Center said Continue reading

Deny or EIS, titanium mining near Okefenokee Swamp –Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS 2019-09-12

Sent just now as PDF. You can still send in your comments today.

[Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?]
Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine? PDF


September 12, 2019

To: Col. Daniel Hibner, Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District
       Attention: Ms. Holly Ross,  holly.a.ross@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,

Suwannee Riverkeeper for WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) asks USACE:

  • to reject the subject Application from Twin Pines Minerals (TPM), given the inappropriate location which would over the years move ever closer to the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, combined with the numerous omissions from the Application regarding the wide hydrogeologic, water quality, ecologic, and economic ramifications of the proposed mining, and the numerous other mines relevant to the proposal.

If USACE continues to process the Application, WWALS requests USACE:

  • to require a complete hydrogeological assessment and report, a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), and an economic analysis, with all three covering all the relevant features, mines, and applications in south Georgia and north Florida, including at least those outlined in this letter.
  • to accept comments until at least ninety days after all these documents are submitted to USACE and distributed to the public, preferably on USACE’s website, without requiring site visits to Albany to get them.
  • to hold public hearings in Georgia and Florida for further independent input and review after sufficient time (months or years) for independent third-party review.

The proposed Charlton County, Georgia, TPM mine site is hydraulically upgradient from the Okefenokee Swamp and within close proximity to the boundary of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge (ONWR), with its 600,000 visits per year for boating, birding, and fishing, with more than $60 million annual economic effects including hundreds of jobs supported directly or indirectly, plus hunt clubs surrounding the Swamp. The Swamp provides ecosystem services of great economic values, including storm protection, water quality provisioning, support for nursery and habitat for commercial fishing species; and carbon storage, plus those hunt clubs depend on the Swamp. Any pollution of the Swamp or change in surface or groundwater levels could adversely affect not only ONWR and nearby areas, but also the Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP) near Waycross, in Ware County, GA, and Stephen C. Foster State Park (SCFSP) in Charlton County, via Fargo in Clinch County. Visitors come from Jacksonville, Florida, Brunswick and Valdosta, Georgia, and from much farther away to visit the Okefenokee Swamp. The Swamp is a treasure to the entire nation and the world.

The stigma of a strip mine next to the swamp could cause people to turn away, taking their dollars with them. Who wants to boat, fish, bird, or hunt next to a strip mine?

Continue reading

Cost of reclassifying Georgia rivers from Fishing to Recreational in Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards

Recently I was asked if there would be water monitoring costs to cities or counties because of upgrading our main Suwannee River Basin waters in Georgia from Fishing to Recreational, as we have requested in Georgia’s Triennial Review of Water Quality Standards. Here’s the answer, as best I could determine. And how you can help. For those who wonder why upgrade from Fishing to Recreational, please see the previous blog post.

[Satellite Map]
WWALS Satellite Map of landing in the Suwannee River Basin in Georgia

Specifically the question was: would reclassifying rivers or swamp from Fishing to Recreational cause cities or counties to have to spend more money on water quality monitoring, specifically if a wastewater treatment plant had a spill, more money on water quality sampling afterwards?

The brief answer is: probably not.

Recently, I asked James A. Capp, Chief, Watershed Protection Branch, EPD. He said that for that case, there should be no change, because sampling after a spill is determined mostly by the number of gallons spilled.

Let me use some NPDES permits I have on hand to illustrate.

Here is the language in NPDES Permit No. GA0020222 for Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant, first about number of gallons, then about the required sampling. Continue reading

Jesup deja vu times two: DuPont, Chemours, Twin Pines, titanium mining, Folkston, Starke

Does this sound familiar? “DuPont planned to separate the mineral sands from the rest and then truck that to its facility in Starke for final processing.”

[Chemours haul from Jesup to Starke]
Chemours plans to haul the extracted ore from a mine near Jesup, in Wayne County, to a Chemours facility near Starke, Fla. The material could be hauled by truck or by CSX Corp., which provides service between the two cities, according to the company’s map. Credit: Google Earth, David Pendered, Saporta Report

Multiple organizations also said Twin Pines Minerals (TPM) told them TPM planned to haul ore to Starke to process from TPM’s proposed mine in Charlton County, Georgia, but this was DuPont, in 2014, in Wayne County. And Chemours, starting about 2016, also in Wayne County.

Dupont Jesup Mine

Terry Dickson, Jacksonville.com, 27 August 2014, DuPont withdraws application for permit to mine more than 2,200 acres in Wayne County, Continue reading

Charlton County, GA, Workshop, Comprehensive Plan 2019-08-27

There was a surprising amount of consensus on things that needed to be added to the Charlton County Comprehensive Plan, at the first Workshop conducted by Southern Georgia Regional Commission (SGRC).

[Clockwise from left: Ouida Johnson, Homeland Mayor; Pender Lloyd, Folkston City Manager; Hampton Raulerson, Charlton County Administrator; Elizabeth Backe, SGRC; Laura Early, Satilla Riverkeeper; John S. Quarterman (hat), Suwannee Riverkeeper; Blair Nixon, Homeland City Council Post 4.]
Clockwise from left: Ouida Johnson, Homeland Mayor; Pender Lloyd, Folkston City Manager; Hampton Raulerson, Charlton County Administrator; Elizabeth Backe, SGRC; Laura Early, Satilla Riverkeeper; John S. Quarterman (hat), Suwannee Riverkeeper; Blair Nixon, Homeland City Council Post 4.

I’ll leave it to SGRC’s Elizabeth Backe to summarize that meeting. For now, suffice it to say that I think I did get them to mention the Suwannee River in many places where it previously was not, and I think also water trails and Suwannee Riverkeeper.

The next Charlton County Comprehensive Plan Update Workshop will be:

When: 2-4 PM, Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Where: Charlton County Administrative Offices, 68 Kingsland Dr. Suite B, Folkston, GA.

What: “We will be discussing the Policies and Community Work Program and Report of Accomplishments sections (5 and 6) of the Comprehensive Plan. If you are not able to attend this workshop, please feel free to send me any suggestions or comments by email.” –Elizabeth Backe, ebacke@sgrc.us

At the first Workshop, Ms. Backe used an initial discussion on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) to motivate the detailed walk-through of part of the planning document. Continue reading