Tag Archives: Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

Central Florida Water Initiative Rulemaking Workshop 2020-07-09

Whatever happens in this workshop will no doubt be used as a precedent later for rules affecting the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD).

[CFWI Workshop scheduled for July 9, 2020]
CFWI Workshop scheduled for July 9, 2020
PDF

The three water management districts not named in that announcement are Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD).

SRWMD is not among the three. But remember, SJRWMD and SRWMD in 2017 jointly approved a North Florida Regional Water Supply Plan back in 2017.

Text of the Notice

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Columbia County, FL, Parks Ordinance, No. 2020-08, 2020-06-18

Columbia County Attorney Joel Foreman sent a copy of this ordinance (see PDF) within minutes of being asked, along with this explanation:

Attached is the version of the Ordinance that was signed. The amendment was made at adoption to 78-3(B), adding that the Board would approve any supplemental rules by resolution.

Columbia County, FL BOCC Special Called Meeting 2020-06-18

Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson posted the below explanation on facebook (reposted here with permission): Continue reading

Rum Island absorbed within Columbia County Park Ordinance: BOCC vote 2020-06-18

Update 2020-07-03: As amended and passed, Columbia County, FL, Parks Ordinance, No. 2020-08, 2020-06-18.

Tomorrow, Thursday, June 18, new rules for Rum Island Park will be voted on by the Columbia County BOCC. This park with its public boat ramp is a popular access to the Santa Fe River and its springs.

[Cover Sheet]
Cover Sheet

At the previous meeting in which they scheduled this meeting, Columbia County Commissioners were heard complaining about kayak and canoe outfitters being some sort of problem.

June 4, 2020, Columbia, County, FL, BOCC Regular Session video

The greatly expanded definitions in the ordinance add permits, with a limit of a total of four permits for “regular commercial uses of parks or recreational facilities”. It’s not clear what “uses” means. Does that include dropping off customers at a public boat ramp? Parking outfitter vehicles? Other?

Presumably issuing permits for fees will affect later budgets. Note that the agenda sheet only says “This item has no effect on the current budget.”

You can comment if you attend, or you can send email beforehand; see below.

WWALS has no official position, although we will send a letter asking the BOCC to be sure such permits don’t interfere with Sec. 78-6(C):

“(C) Boats, including human-powered craft and boats of common horsepower motors, shall be allowed.”

So far as I know, Our Santa Fe River (OSFR) also has no official position.

When: 5:30 PM, Thursday, June 18, 2020

Where: Columbia County School Board Administrative Complex Auditorium, 372 West Duval Street, Lake City, Florida 32055

What: Special called meeting of the Columbia County Board of County Commissioners

Purpose: To adopt a Rum Island Park Ordinance within a broad Columbia County Park Ordinance that includes all of the recreational holdings of the county.

To comment: Attend in person. Or send email to:
To: Board Secretary Penny Stanley <penny_stanley@columbiacountyfla.com>
Cc: County Attorney Joel Foreman <jforeman@columbiacountyfla.com>
Subject: Columbia County BOCC Park Ordinance

Thanks to Continue reading

Online MFL meeting, Santa Fe, Ichetucknee, and Springs 2020-06-16

Online, so you don’t have to travel, you can ask why SRWMD is proposing reductions in the minimum flows of the Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Rivers:

[Entry]
Entry

In Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee Minimum Flow and Minimum Water Level (MFL) Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs),

What is the new, proposed MFL?

A minimum flow and minimum water level (MFL) evaluation was used to determine the quantity of water needed to ensure the safety and health of the Lower Santa Fe and Ichetucknee (LSFI) Rivers and associated springs. The new LSFI MFL evaluation has determined that median Santa Fe River flows should be 91.9%near Ft. White and 91% near US Hwy 441 gaging stations, and that median Ichetucknee River flows should be 97.2% at the US Hwy 27 gaging station.To review the 2019 LSFI Technical Document, visit the LSFI webpage.

How does the new, proposed MFL differ from the 2015 LSFI MFL evaluation? Continue reading

Videos: Don’t split farms, and don’t harm nature, schools, or aquifer, at M-CORES toll road meeting, Madison, FL 2020-02-11

Toll roads splitting farms would be generational damage, said farmer Ernest Culver of Jackson County, and the Task Force doesn’t take into account churches or schools, not to mention nature, rivers, or the Floridan Aquifer, said Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Columbia County, at the meeting in Madison County, Florida, February 11, 2020.

[Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson]
Ernest Culver & Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson

The idea of repurposing toll roads funds for virus pandemic relief continues to get more at least indirect support. Craig Pitman, Florida Phoenix, 9 April 2020, Does Florida still need that trio of billion-dollar toll roads?,

Florida’s controversial new toll roads hit a potential roadblock this week.

Two of them are supposed to 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

Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08

The two days John Moran spent writing his talk paid off, along with the years of photographing what was and what is left of the waters of Florida. If you watch none of the rest of these videos from the Florida Bill of Rights for Nature, the three with John Moran’s talk are well worth your time.

John Moran

Below are links to each WWALS video. I didn’t video everything; mostly a few speakers whom I had told in advance.

Doug Shields explains how he got the Pittsburgh, PA, City Council to be the first in the U.S. to ban fracking, and how it spread from there, and what that has to do with Rights of Nature.

Chuck O’Neal of WEBOR explains the three ways you can get a Bill of Rights for Nature passed in a Florida County, and how he did it in, Orange County

As already posted, David Moritz explains the one that may have started it all in Florida, Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SaFEBoR).

You should be able to follow the demonstration of Tools not working for Florida’s environment even if you don’t know FDEP from a WMD, or if you’re familiar with a different state or country. The problems are the same everywhere: laws, agencies, and rules rigged against nature. That’s why we need a Bill of Rights for Nature, in each county, state, and country. Continue reading

Florida Rights of Nature Convention 2020-02-08

Update 2020-02-09: Videos: John Moran, Doug Shields, Chuck O’Neal @ FL RoNCon 2020-02-08

What Santa Fe Bill of Rights (SAFEBOR) started only nine months ago has blossomed into a dozen county or river Rights of Nature movements across the State of Florida.

David Moritz, SAFEBOR

Here is WWALS video of what David Moritz said about SAFEBOR. More will follow, especially of what John Moran said. 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

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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