Tag Archives: Jim Tatum

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

Citizens about Nestle at SRWMD 2019-12-10

Update 2020-03-09: Nestlé pulled from the agenda.

See in these videos 32 people speak to the SRWMD board, against Nestlé’s Ginnie Springs permit, and not a single one for, after a rally outside, in December 2019. Plus 384,000 signatures delivered by Allison Guy of SumofUs.

That permit is on the agenda for tomorrow morning, 9AM, Tuesday, March 10, 2020, at SRWMD HQ in Live Oak.

SRWMD staff recommend denial, but they did back in 2003 when the Madison Blue Spring permit was originally granted, and the SRWMD Board approved it anyway.

So come speak your mind. Come early: SRWMD is expecting so many people they’re setting up expansion space inside, and their parking will fill up quickly. Facebook event.


[No to Nestle!]
No to Nestle!

The Suwannee River Water Management District Board may never have heard from a mermaid before. Many other speakers were new to this venue, such as 14-year-old Isaac Augspurg.

Others were old hands, such as Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) president Mike Roth, past president Pam Smith, Historian Jim Tatum, and of course Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson.

Several WWALS members spoke, including several of the above, and Chris Mericle, Garth Brewster, and Maxine Connor.


      Valdosta spill; No Nestle permit --Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman
Valdosta spill; No Nestle permit –Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman

The only speaker to cause an audible gasp from the audience was me, when I revealed that Valdosta had spilled again, 7.5 million gallons of raw sewage, upstream from Madison Blue Spring. Much more about that on the WWALS website.

I hand-delivered to SRWMD board and staff copies of the WWALS letter against Nestlé permits.

Below are links to each WWALS video of each speaker, followed by Continue reading

BIG Little River Paddle Race in Lake City Reporter 2020-02-22

Thanks to Jim Tatum for sending us this very nice article by Monty Stephens, Lake City Reporter, February 22-23, 2020, Paddling for Great Cause — Clean Water in Our Rivers:

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The “Eighth Annual BIG Little River Paddle Race” is scheduled for Saturday, April 25, 2020. Everyone that drinks or uses water needs to support this worthwhile “Cause.” The “Cause” is clean water in our rivers. This is a [3] mile canoe, kayak, [but not paddleboard] race. It can be a leisurely float down the [Little] River to [Reed Bingham State Park Lake] or an “All out fierce race,” your choice. The [WWALS] Watershed Coalition is a non-profit organization that supports the Suwannee [Riverkeeper].

[Below the bridge (BW)]
Photo: Bret Wagenhorst, of the 2019 race start.

The [Suwannee Riverkeeper] works to protect the Suwannee River and its tributaries, the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, [Little, and Santa Fe Rivers]. These rivers join together and become the Suwannee River as they flow through North Florida and out into the Gulf.

Here is the problem, civilization in general, tends to create pollution. The traditional method of dealing with pollution is to dump it somewhere, let the wind will blow it away, or dump it in a river. In other words, “Just get rid of it.” None of these methods deal with the real problem. Dumping pollution in the river just creates issues for people downstream. Since we’re in Florida, we’re “Downstream.” This is why we need a Riverkeeper.

Our Riverkeeper is Continue reading

Two thirds of SRWMD Board half there 2019-09-18

It was surprisingly interactive meeting, with the Board members repeatedly questioning staff about multiple projects, sometimes taking up points raised from the audience. One Board Member even stopped a project. Yet half the rump board was not visible, being on the telephone, and the Budget Public Hearing may or may not have been legal.

Nestlé Water Withdrawal Permits

At the rescheduled September SRWMD Board meeting, OSFR President Mike Roth questioned the validity of the permitting process for Nestlé’s proposed 1.2 million gallon per day water withdrawal from Ginnie Springs on the Santa Fe River, since the actual application is from Seven Springs, which proposes to sell the water to Nestlé, which is not a use authorized by Florida Statutes.

[OSFR President]
OSFR President

I seconded that, and added that the SRWMD Board should revisit Nestlé’s permit for water withdrawal at Madison Blue Springs on the Withlacoochee River, since Florida Statutes to authorize them to do that.

You can comment to SRWMD about Nestlé’s permits.

Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR, of Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman
Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR, of Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman

Afterwards, SRWMD’s Tom Mirti told me the $70,000 contract with SRWMD for Nestlé to support springs water quality monitoring is required by the Nestlé permit for Madison Blue Spring, even though it has to be negotiated separately. Apparently yet another open records request is needed.

Invisible and Missing Board Members

Continue reading

Suwannee Riverkeeper at Our Santa Fe River Board Meeting 2019-08-28

Thanks, OSFR President Mike Roth, for the invitation. Jim Tatum, OSFR, 31 August 2019, Suwannee RiverKeeper Quarterman is Guest at OSFR Board Meeting,

John S. Quarterman at OSFR Board 2019-08-28

Guest speaker at the August OSFR board meeting was Suwannee RiverKeeper John Quarterman from Georgia.

John gave a detailed run-down of the benefits and responsibilities of a riverkeeper, of which there are around 350 scattered around the globe.

What does John do?

Actually he does quite a bit. A brief search ended up on the WaterKeeper Alliance website which had Continue reading

Okefenokee overflight with GA Rep. John Corbett 2019-08-24

Flying over the affected area appears to have made at least one elected official think harder about whether the supposed titanium mining jobs could be more important than the effects on the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, both its economic importance and the potential environmental detriments to the swamp, to the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, and to the Floridan Aquifer. You can still write to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking for denial or at least an Environmental Impact Statement.

Gordon Jackson, The Brunswick News, 28 August 2019, Getting the aerial perspective on a titanium mining project,

[WC6170, 22:40:34]
Photo: Jim Tatum, of the Chemours North Maxville Mine, Baker County, Florida. This is the mine pictured in the Brunswick News article.

…The mining company Twin Pines Minerals, LLC [(TPM)], said it plans to employ 150 people, but [Georgia State Representative John] Corbett acknowledged most of the employees will not come from Charlton County.

Corbett went on a two-hour flight Saturday Continue reading

Charlton County Commission passed resolution supporting titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-08-15

Causing outrage from the packed house, the Charlton County Commission refused Thursday to let anyone speak who did not live in the county or own land there. This was after the Commission unanimously passed a resolution supporting the proposed titanium mine, without any public hearing and with citizens at all permitted to speak beforehand. The resolution apparently says it depends on the miners getting permits, and Charlton County does not decide on those permits. The opposition is now even more determined to stop those permits by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the state of Georgia. You, too, can comment to USACE and GA-EPD by the current deadline of September 12, 2019.

[Signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, before 2019-08-13 TPM meeting. L-r: Mark Lyons of Citizens Against Phosphate Mining, Alice Keyes of One Hundred Miles, Hilda Gilchrist of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR), Jim Tatum of OSFR and WWALS, Rena Peck Stricker of Georgia River Network, Mike Roth and Kristin Rubin of OSFR and WWALS, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper, Merillee Malwitz-Jipson of OSFR and WWALS.

The Charlton County Commission’s public speaking rule is indeed new, since the previous month Continue reading

Videos: Valdosta and Florida Counties about sewage 2019-07-10

Congenial yet sometimes testy, the Florida counties meeting Valdosta about sewage again last night.

The Valdosta catch basin many Floridians thought would be finished by now? Probably by December.

That report the Utilities Manager last time said explained why 8 or 10 million gallons was big enough for a catch basin? No, it doesn’t explain that. Fortunately, Georgia EPD wants to know how many gallons will be needed for how much rain, and apparently won’t issue a permit for the catch basin until there are answers, so maybe we’ll finally find out.

GA-EPD also wanted to know what if the catch basin fills up? Valdosta’s answer: tanker trucks to ship the sewage from the Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant to the Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Or the other direction, if needed. That sounds like a fine idea. Although it doesn’t address the question of what if the heavy rains fall directly on Valdosta and both WTPs fill up.

Meanwhile, the catch basin is just one of a combination of fixes, mostly intended to alleviate infiltration of stormwater into the sewer system, and about 25% of those are done, says Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber.

Will all these projects be finished this year? No.

Floridians offer to get national elected officials to help.

Floridians also emphasized Ecotourism, and asked me to talk about the 350 people who just came through on Paddle Georgia (#PaddleGA2019), the WWALS Boomerang paddle race from Florida to Georgia and back, and the proposed River Camp at the Little River Confluence west of Valdosta, like the ones on the Suwannee River Wilderness Trail. Valdosta Mayor John Gayle wrote down the date of the WWALS Boomerang (October 26th), and afterwards both Hamilton and Madison Counties promised to help.

Tom Mirti of SRWMD described Florida water quality testing, but didn’t mention that FDEP’s monthly testing isn’t made public until four months later. He did mention that FDEP is now testing for sucralose. Merrillee Malwwitz-Jipson, who requested that, was sitting right there. Thanks to her and Jim Tatum for coming from Florida to this meeting.

Valdosta City Manager Mark Barber said Valdosta was still testing at the state line, which caused me to ask why I didn’t get any results for those locations this year in response to open records requests, then? Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse said that was because they haven’t actually tested at the state line this year. He also complained that he had staff working 100 hours a week. Which makes me wonder whether the city of Valdosta is really giving him what he needs, or whether he hasn’t asked for everything he needs.

Anyway, people were rightly impressed with how much Valdosta has done and with their current plans. However, there is still room for improvement.

Below are Continue reading

Agenda: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage 2019-07-10

Here’s the agenda for tonight’s Special Called Meeting of the Valdosta City Council, with business of Valdosta Utilities presenting to the dozen Florida counties. You may wonder why you haven’t seen this City Council meeting on Valdosta’s website or in the Valdosta Daily Times. Well, Georgia Open Meetings law only requires one notice on the front of the venue and a notice to the newspaper of record 24 hours in advance.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook

[071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001]
071019-Special-Called-Meeting-Agenda-0001
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Maybe Valdosta should consider that elected official embarassment does not outweigh informing the public.

Thanks to Valdosta City Clerk Teresa Bolden for the agenda. See also Continue reading

Again: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-07-10

Update 2019-07-11: WWALS Videos.

Update 2019-07-10: The agenda.

Like three months ago, the dozen downstream Florida counties will meet with Valdosta again tomorrow. It’s a public meeting and anyone may attend. Presumably, like last time, anyone may ask questions.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where: General Purpose Room,
Valdosta City Hall Annex,
300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, GA 31601

Event: facebook

[Movie: 10% completion of 162 years? --Tom Mirti, SRWMD]
Movie: 10% completion of 162 years? –Tom Mirti, SRWMD

We already knew about this from Continue reading