Tag Archives: Hamilton County

Additional: Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Update 2020-06-11: Contamination moving downstream in Florida 2020-06-09.

The E. coli numbers jump up from US 84 to Knights Ferry in additional data from Valdosta for Monday. In between is Okapilco Creek coming out of Brooks County, with many beef and dairy cow pastures upstream.

[Additional Valdosta data]
Additional Valdosta data
For context and links to the WWALS composite spreadsheet and all its sources, see http://wwals.net/issues/testing/.

Valdosta’s 1,600 cfu/100 mL at the state line is nowhere near Madison Health’s 24,196, but still higher than the 1,000 alert limit.

It’s a good guess that Madison and Hamilton County Health Departments are putting up signs in Florida after their Withlacoochee River Advisory of yesterday.

I hope some Florida state agency is testing downstream from FL 6, because by now the contamination may well have moved down that way.

I am heading out to collect samples for WWALS and to put our yellow diamond Caution signs back up at State Line and Nankin Boat Ramps. The Knights Ferry access road is washed out so that one will have to go up later. You can help.

Yesterday I set all eight Withlacoochee River Boat Ramps and Launches in Swim Guide to show red for failed water quality.

[Swim Guide red from US 84 to Madison Boat Ramp]
Swim Guide red from US 84 to Madison Boat Ramp

Thanks to Valdosta PIO Ashlyn Johnson for Continue reading

Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Update 2020-06-10: Additional: Filthy Withlacoochee River Monday after Sunday rain 2020-06-08

Yes, again there’s a Withlacoochee River Advisory from the Hamilton and Madison County, Florida, Health Departments. But it’s not what many people automatically assume.

WWALS is putting its yellow diamond Caution signs back up. All eight Withlacoochee River Boat Ramps and Launces in Swim Guide should shortly show red for failed water quality.

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Notice the high E. coli at US 41 (North Valdosta Road), twice the high alert limit of 1,000. That is north of almost all of Valdosta. The numbers are still above alert limit but somewhat lower at GA 133 and US 84.

The really high numbers start at GA 31, at State Line Boat Ramp. And 24,196 is extremely high. See What do these numbers mean?

So the main contamination seems to be coming into the Withlacoochee River downstream from US 84. That very likely means down Okapilco Creek from Brooks County, Georgia. Which fits with 4.75 inches of rain at Dixie, GA, in the west of Brooks County and 4.7 inches at the east edge of the county on the Withlacoochee River at US 84. Since that storm, as most do, moved from east to west west to east, we can guess similar amounts of rain fell right across Brooks County. What does that spell? Cows.

Not just from one location; probably from cow pastures all over Brooks County. And maybe upstream, since more than two inches of rain fell on Moultrie.

And of course the higher-than-alert results from US 84 north are not from Brooks County. There are horse farms and cows and hogs up there, too, as well as septic tanks, domsetic pets, and wildlife in the woods. And yes, runoff from city streets. But no sewage spills have been reported. Continue reading

A clean week, Withlacoochee River 2020-05-08

Update 2020-05-16: Clean Withlacoochee River 2020-05-13.

Update 2020-05-14: Withlacoochee River Landings on Swim Guide 2020-05-14.

Last week was clean for the Withlacoochee River, and with no rain predicted, probably this weekend and the coming week, too.

Don’t forget to send in your comment on the GA-EPD Valdosta Consent Order.

But remember, Valdosta is not the source of the recent contamination. WWALS is talking to some of the agricultural sources. Please be patient: agriculture takes months or years to fix.

You can help.

[Approaching State Line Ramp --Bobby McKenzie]
Approaching State Line RampBobby McKenzie, 2020-05-10

We’ve seldom seen a week this clean. Continue reading

Send your comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order –Albany Herald

In the Albany Herald, May 9, 2020, Deadline set to comment on Valdosta EPD Enforcement Order,

The Enforcement Order includes a fine, plus many requirements for management and technology.

“Well, I’m glad they are doing the enforcement order, requiring them to get the fixes in place,” said Deanna Mericle of Hamilton County, Fla., who was among the WWALS members who met with the city of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. “I’m not sure what the $122,000 will be used for, but the fine seems small. I just want the problem fixed for good if possible.”

The rest of the article is from the WWALS press release.

Send your comments by Wednesday, May 27, 2020, to:
   Mr. Lewis Hays
   Manager, Watershed Compliance
   Environmental Protection Division
   2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive SE, Suite 1152 East
   Atlanta, GA 30334
   Lewis.Hays@dnr.ga.gov
   404-463-4953

This is not the kind of black water we want:

[Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River.]
Photo 4: Confluence of Sugar Creek and Withlacoochee River. By Tim Bonvechio.

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
http://wwals.net/pictures/2020-04-13–ga-epd-vld-enforcement-order

“This Order has been a long time coming. It includes an outline of a sad history of mistakes and neglect. I hope the Order Continue reading

Better Saturday at Knights Ferry, Nankin, Withlacoochee River, but rain 2020-04-18

Update 2020-04-24: OK quality mid-week, but much rain yesterday, Withlacoochee River 2020-04-22.

WWALS Testing Committee Chair Suzy Hall got 300 cfu/100 mL E. coli at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp Saturday, and 333 at Nankin Boat Ramp, both on the Withlacoochee River. That’s similar to Thursday at Knights Ferry, and better at Nankin; both not good, but not terrible. See also What do these numbers mean?

But watch out: it rained a quarter inch in Brooks County, Georgia, Sunday. WWALS continues testing and correlating results from various sources with rainfall.

You can help by donating for water quality collection supplies. Even those metal yellow Caution signs cost money. See below for those signs going up during the livestreamed virtual Earth Day cleanup at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp.

[Boaters, Suzy, signs, trash, Bobby]
Boaters, Suzy, signs, trash, Bobby

There were a bunch of boaters, all keeping their distance. They were already aware of the contamination, but did not plan to get in the river water.

Apparently most of the previous contamination had washed down the river, but how far? Continue reading

Cleaner Withlacoochee, horrid Crooked Creek 2020-04-16

Update 2020-04-20: Better Saturday at Knights Ferry, Nankin, Withlacoochee River, but rain 2020-04-18.

I put back up a WWALS Caution sign at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp yesterday because of recent bacterial results on the Withlacoochee River; our signs are still up at Nankin and State Line. Thanks to WWALS testers and Madison Health, we have a pretty good picture of creeks and Withlacoochee River health yesterday, to add to what Valdosta got Wednesday. More WWALS testing this weekend. You can help.

And you can watch the livestream Saturday morning (probably today when you read this), April 18, 2020, starting at 8AM, as we demonstrate cleaning up and posting water trail signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp. Look for the livestream on the facebook event.

[Caution sign]
Caution sign

You can’t see E. coli, but you can see trash, such as this at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, Thursday, April 16, 2020. That location had much less E. coli, 233 cfu/100 mL, than only two days before, as did State Line Boat Ramp and CR 150 (Sullivan Launch), but Nankin Boat Ramp had 800 and Florida 6 had 538, just above Madison Blue Spring. Okapilco Creek was OK at US 84, with 166, but Crooked Creek at Devane Road was horrid with TNTC, Too Numerous to Count. See also What do these numbers mean? Continue reading

Bad quality north Lowndes to state line, Withlacoochee River 2020-04-15

If it was this bad at the state line yesterday, this contamination must be in Florida by now. So watch out Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia, and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida.

I am going now to collect some samples, as are some other WWALS testers. You can help.

[Bad from US 41 to state line]
Bad from US 41 to state line
For context and the entire WWALS composite spreadsheet of Georgia and Florida data, see wwals.net/issues/testing/.

So after contamination after last week’s rain, the Withlacoochee River was cleaner Sunday and even more so during the week. But that changed much for the worse with the rain yesterday. Continue reading

Comment now: TPM mine drains to Okefenokee Swamp, Rivers Styx, St. Marys, Suwannee, Georgia and Florida 2020-04-10

Comment by this Monday, April 13, 2020, if you don’t want any of these creeks, rivers, or the Okefenokee Swamp affected by this strip mine, or the Floridan Aquifer, in Georgia or in Florida.

The Twin Pines Minerals strip mine site drains west from Trail Ridge into the River Styx, into the Okefenokee Swamp, and to the St. Marys River, which becomes the border between Georgia and Florida. On the east, it drains into Boone Creek and into the St. Marys River. If it affects the Swamp, it will affect the Suwannee River, which runs through Georgia and Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

[River Styx]
River Styx

Please go ahead and tell the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers why you don’t want this strip mine near the Swamp.

You can also ask for an extension of the public comment deadline, and for public hearings in Georgia and Florida. Here is the Suwannee Riverkeeper extension and hearings request for WWALS.

The Rule the Corps is following for comments says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can require any other affected state to comment. So you can ask EPA to ask Florida to comment. Here is our request for that. Here’s a simple version you can use:

[Your Name or Your Organization Name] requests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), pursuant to 33 CFR § 325.2, (b), regarding permit application SAS-2018-0054 to determine that the mining activities of the subject Application may affect the quality of the waters of the state of Florida and to notify the state of Florida, the district engineer, and the applicant that Florida ‘has 60 days from receipt of EPA’s notice to determine if the proposed discharge will affect the quality of its waters so as to violate any water quality requirement in such state, to notify EPA and the district engineer in writing of its objection to permit issuance, and to request a public hearing.’

The inset map is from Figure 66 in the TPM application. TPM didn’t label the waterways, but that’s the River Styx where it says MSW-1, and Boone Creek where it says MSW-4. Both lead to the St. Marys River, which becomes the Georgia-Florida state line. The River Styx joins the St. Marys in the Okefenokee Swamp, which is the headwaters of the Suwannee River. Continue reading

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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March 26, 2020

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

Contact: 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