Tag Archives: quality

Floridan Aquifer withdrawals affect the Okefenokee Swamp, so how could TPM’s withdrawals not? 1995-04-11

Water withdrawals from the Floridan Aquifer affect water levels and quality in the Okefenokee Swamp, a pair of researchers concluded 24 years before Twin Pines Minerals of Alabama proposed to withdraw 2.4 million gallons per day from the Aquifer for a titanium mine within a few miles of the Swamp:

Abstract. A rapid response is observed between water level fluctuations in the Okefenokee Swamp and water levels in the underlying Floridan Aquifer. A lag of approximately one month is common, and a hydraulic diffusivity of 3.83 x 10-3 m2 s-1 best matches the calculated aquifer response to the swamp water level perturbations. The magnitude of leakage between the swamp and the aquifer is uncertain because of a lack of knowledge about the specific storage coefficient in the aquitard separating the swamp and the aquifer which has not been explicitly measured. An intermediate value of specific storage within the likely range of values results in a down- ward vertical flow of 1.2 meters of water per year. This induced recharge can significantly alter the natural water balance within the swamp. Such a large loss of water from the swamp may be responsible for observed pH and water level changes, and increased beavy metal accumulations in aquatic organisms in the swamp.

We cited that study[5] on page 4 of the Suwannee Riverkeeper comments to USACE about TPM, just after noting Twin Pines application to withdraw 4.32 million gallons per day (mgd) of Floridan Aquifer water much closer to the Swamp than any other permitted withdrawal. TPM’s own hydrology study in that withdrawal application shows a cone of depression in the Floridan Aquifer extending under the Swamp:

[Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days]
Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days

How could that not affect Swamp water levels and content?

As pointed out to the Corps by Okefenokee Swamp Park (OSP), any change to the water level in the Swamp would Continue reading

Titanium mine expansion on SRWMD land SE of Starke, Bradford County, Florida 2019-10-17

What is the point of SRWMD buying land if it’s going to let it be strip-mined for titanium?

[Bradford County Property Appraiser]
Bradford County Property Appraiser

Yet that’s what the Bradford County, FL, Commission is considering approving this Thursday evening for Chemours, expanding one of the same mines Chemours and Twin Pines Minerals LLC are under a Florida Consent Order for numerous violations.

We hear that this Chemours expansion application for its Trailridge Mine southeast of Starke includes items like a Master Mining Plan and some of what they intend to do with wastewater, which the Twin Pines Minerals application does not for a similar mine near the Okefenokee Swamp in Charlton County, GA, farther north up Trail Ridge, that ancient beach full of stuff miners want to exploit.

[Twin Pines site (north) to Chemours Trailridge Mine (south)]
Twin Pines site (north in center top) to Chemours Trailridge Mine (south).
See also proposed HPS II phosphate mine site left of center, and existing Nutrien (PCS) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, FL upper left.
Note Jacksonville on the right in the east and Gainesville bottom center.
The Santa Fe River starts near the subject property, and flows west (left) to the Suwannee River.

We don’t know, because the application is not on Bradford County’s website.

When: 6:30 PM, Thursday, October 17, 2019

Where: BRADFORD COUNTY COURTHOUSE, 945 North Temple Avenue, Starke, Florida 32091

Event: BEF facebook event
WWALS facebook event

Here is the agenda item:

  1. PUBLIC HEARING – Randy Andrews, Zoning Director.
    Chemours Company FC, LLC – Thomas O. Ingram of Sodi & Ingram, PLLC and Daniel LeJeune of Kleinfelder, as acting agents for The Chemours Company FC LLC., and Connie Henderson, Representative for The Chemours FC, LLC.
    • Consider approval of a Special Use application — SU 19-02, for a Special Permit for mining submitted by The Chemours Company FC, LLC on lands owned by the Suwannee River Water Management District.

SRWMD owns 2,213.60 acres from just south of Chemours down to a sort of triangle-shaped 107.49-acre bit north of the Keystone Heights Airport.

[Google map]
WWALS Google map with SRWMD property roughly sketched.

That Airport is also known as Keystone Airpark, 42J, 29.8447500,-82.0475278. The purple-shaded left part of this WWALS google map is the Santa Fe River Basin, and this Chemours mine expansion appears to be entirely within it.

If you want to speak, here are the rules:

  1. Public Comments:
    • Three (3) minutes per speaker;
    • Complete and turn in a public comment card to speak before the start of meeting; (COMMENT CARDS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED AFTER THE MEETING BEGINS)
    • State your name and address into the record before speaking;
    • Do not speak from the audience;
    • Address your questions to the Board, not county staff;
    • Refrain from demands for an immediate board response;
    • No boisterous behavior; and
    • No personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks.

WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper know about this Chemours mine expansion application due to a report by Jim Tatum of Our Santa Fe River (OSFR). OSFR got their information from Bradford Environmental Forum (BEF). Paul Still of BEF says BEF plans to put a copy of the application on the BEF website as soon as they can sort out the logistics of getting a multi-megabyte file uploaded on slow rural broadband links.

This aerial I took on October 5th looks south across the Chemours Maxville Mine (the second one counting south from the state line), with Kingsley Lake in the distance.

[Closer, 122702, 12:27:01, 30.1685423, -82.0663337]
Photo: John S. Quarterman for WWALS, on Southwings flight 2019-10-05, pilot Allen Nodorft, Closer, 122702, 12:27:01, 30.1685423, -82.0663337

Those six settling ponds are on the divide between the St. Johns River Basin on the left and the Santa Fe River Basin on the right. So the right-hand side of the picture is in the Santa Fe River Basin. The SRWMD mine of the Bradford County application is in the haze near the horizon.

Do we want more of the Santa Fe River Basin to look like this?

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!

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

Full page ad by titanium miners in Charlton County Herald 2019-09-25

It’s the miners who are proposing to risk the Okefenokee Swamp for their private profit, so it’s their job to provide proof, despite what the Twin Pines full page ad in the Charlton County Herald says. Alex Kearns has already made this point for St. Marys Earthkeepers in a letter to the editor. You can comment on the newspaper’s website on that one, or you can send one, too, to: editor@charltonherald.com.

[CharltonCounty-Herald 25Sept2019-0001]
CharltonCounty-Herald 25Sept2019-0001
PDF

Yet in our Suwannee Riverkeeper comments to the Corps, we have provided quite a few studies that indicate the risk, including a Florida Consent Order against the same company for similar mines in Florida.

Where are these studies Twin Pines touts in the ad? They were not in Twin Pines’ mining application, as we and many others, including U.S. EPA and GA-EPD have pointed out. When will these miners’ studies be published?

The one Twin Pines hydrogeological study I have been able to find is in a different application that this miners’ ad doesn’t mention: for groundwater withdrawal and use. That study shows the 4.32 million gallons per day the miners’ want (more than twice all the current permitted water withdrawals in Charlton County) would lower the level of the Floridan Aquifer under the Swamp.

[Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days]
Figure 8. Drawdown 2930 days

At the August 13, 2019 miners’ meeting in Folkston, GA, Steve Ingle claimed the mine would not affect the Floridan Aquifer, and the miners’ hydrologist Mark Tanner claimed there would be no cone of depression under the Swamp, both on video. This was two weeks after the same company had filed its withdrawal application with a hydrology report that clearly depicts a cone of depression extending under the Swamp. A report authored by the same two hydrologists who were at the August 13th meeting: Robert M. Holt and J. Mark Tanner.

The same miners’ hydrologists also repeatedly refused to guarantee there would be no effect on the Suwannee River, despite the ad’s claims of “100% certainty.”

Pretty much every other point in that ad is similarly easily rebuttable.

It’s curious they didn’t mention their biggest selling point: Continue reading

Trash in wetlands at Flying J, Exit 2, I-75 2019-08-23

I must compliment Lowndes County Code Enforcement, the Flying J, Dynamis, and Deep South Sanitation, about this cleanup at the Flying J, Exit 2, I-75, Lake Park, Georgia, about a mile from the GA-FL line.

[Trash in gap]
Trash in gap

On August 23, 2019, I sent this picture and the location to Lowndes County Code Enforcement:

[Still more trash]
Still more trash

Code Enforcement Director Mindy Bates responded within the hour: Continue reading

GA-EPD cites Suwannee Riverkeeper and US EPA against TPM titanium mine near Okefenokee Swamp 2019-09-12

GA-EPD told USACE the mining application is incomplete, asked for comments to be reopened, and cited Suwannee Riverkeeper and Georgia River Network:

“Understanding that groundwater hydrologic effects associated with the Twin Pines project have been a central concern expressed by federal resource/regulatory agencies, NGOs (e.g. the Suwannee Riverkeeper and Georgia River Network), and the public at large, we respectfully submit that the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete since it lacks full information and findings regarding hydrogeologic factors on site and post-project effects to hydrogeology/groundwater. We feel that it is inappropriate and premature to close the project comment window when such notable elements of the environmental documentation for this project have not yet been made available. documentation which we at GaEPD judge to be important to our review of this project.”

[the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete]
the 404/401 permit application as submitted thus far is not complete

This was revealed by USACE in a Public Notice of September 17, 2019. So far, this is the only update posted by the Corps since it closed comments on September 12, 2019.

It also includes comments by U.S. EPA, also saying the application is incomplete, and also cited by GA-EPD. EPA cites cumulative effects and notes numerous lacking documents and studies. EPA concludes:

“Due to the potential for the proposed Twin Pines Minerals mine to adversely affect the hydrology of the Okefenokee NWR, the EPA believes that there is the potential for this project as proposed to cause adverse effects to water quality and the life stages of aquatic life or other wildlife dependent on aquatic systems. The EPA finds that this project, as proposed, may result in substantial and unacceptable impacts to aquatic resources of national importance, as covered in Part IV. paragraph 3(a) of the August 1992 Memorandum of Agreement between the EPA and the Department of the Army regarding CWA Section 404(q).”

Apparently USACE is at least listening to the public and the public and NGOs such as Suwannee Riverkeeper.

You can still send in comments. The Corps won’t say they will read them, but they explicitly won’t say they won’t read them, so keep sending them in, and publish them on social media, as op-eds, etc. Continue reading

Posted: Valdosta Country Club Sewage Spill, six days afterwards 2019-08-27

The GA-EPD person who enters the data was on vacation, but eventually the Valdosta Country Club sewage spill appeared in GA-EPD’s online reports, on August 27, 2019, with this:

“Note: Initial 24-hour spill notification received by EPD 8/21, via phone. Entered 8/26 due to employee vacation.”

As I noted to GA-EPD, this is a good example of a case where an automated email alert could have let them and us all know when it appeared. Alabama has been doing that for two years now, and Florida for almost as long.

3353 Plantation Drive is not the spill location, Google Map
Red marker: 3353 Plantation Drive. Yellow diamond sign: actual spill location.

That entry included a more precise address than Valdosta had previously reported: 3353 Plantation Drive. Unfortunately, that address is still incorrect. As I have pointed out to GA-EPD, the spill was 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

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

Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) Reported to ADEM by NPDES Permitted Facilities 2019-09-05

For years, Alabama has been posting sewage spill reports online, like Florida and, since last December, Georgia. And Alabama has joined Florida in publishing a map of recent spills.

[Al-adem-sso-map]
Al-adem-sso-map
Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) Reported to ADEM by NPDES Permitted Facilities

Thanks to Lewis Hays, Watershed Compliance Program, GA-EPD, for the tip.

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!