Tag Archives: Union County

Jim Tatum reports on FL Rivers Task Force meeting 2019-04-25

Thanks to Jim Tatum of OSFR for reporting from the April 25th meeting of the twelve-Florida-county Rivers Task Force meeting in Lake City. His Task Force on Valdosta Spills says the Task Force is asking Florida Senator Rubio to speed permitting for Valdosta’s WWTP catch basin. It doesn’t say whether they get the point that the other third of Valdosta’s December spills would not be affected by that.

It says they’re still agonizing about direct notification of spills. Our experience with Valdosta and that of many others is that it’s not worth wasting time expecting Valdosta to notify anybody except the state of Georgia, which is why it’s so useful that GA-EPD publishes Sewage Spill Reports each business day. That’s been going on since December 20, 2018, after 30 organizations in Georgia and Florida, including OSFR, signed a resolution asking GA-EPD to do that.

Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR; Darlene Velez of SRWMD explains the water quality missions of the state agencies.
Photo: Jim Tatum for OSFR; Darlene Velez of SRWMD explains the water quality missions of the state agencies.

The hot button at the moment is water quality monitoring and sampling. Thanks to OSFR’s Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and WWALS ‘ John Quarterman, it was revealed some time ago that water sampling has been less than adequate by our (and Georgia’s) agencies, lacking even a baseline for comparison in places.

Once called out, the agencies have been scrambling and Ms. Velez’ PowerPoint covered this wonderfully. Your writer did not know that Continue reading

Rivers Task Force meeting, Lake City, Florida 2019-04-25

Agenda (PDF):

AGENDA
MIDDLE AND LOWER SUWANNEE RIVER AND
WITHLACOOCHEE RIVER TASK FORCE

April 25, 2019
4:00 p.m.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard
Lake City, Florida

  1. INVOCATION
  2. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
  3. INTRODUCTIONS
  4. APPROVAL OF MINUTES – February 28, 2019*
  5. REPORT ON ACTIVITIES
    1. Florida Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee Testimony
    2. Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary and Governor’s Staff Meeting
    3. Joint Task Force and City of Valdosta City Council Workshop
  6. WATER SAMPLING SCHEDULE AND DATA
  7. NEXT STEPS

* See Attachments

Agenda, Meeting

See also:

Videos: Florida Counties meet Valdosta about sewage in rivers and wells 2019-04-10

Update 2019-04-13: Added Task Force Resolution.

Everyone in the dozen downstream Florida counties wants to help Valdosta finish fixing its sewage problems, and all were impressed with the thoroughness of the presentations by Valdosta Utilities Director Darryl Muse. There was even an offer to contact federal representatives and agencies from the elephant in the room, Ken Cornell of Alachua County, which contains half the population of the dozen Task Force Counties (and twice the population of Valdosta and Lowndes County),

[Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance]
Ken Cornell, Alachua County, offers assistance

Mayor John Gayle said “Valdosta is privileged to be a regional city”, serving eighteen counties and benefitting from sales taxes of all those who shop in Valdosta, and later offered assurances that Valdosta was doing everything it could.

[Assurances --Mayor John Gayle]
Assurances –Mayor John Gayle

They could answer the question from Beth Burnham of Hamilton County about reporting times: less than 24 hours to the state of Georgia.

[Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham]
Hamilton County Commission District 1 Beth Burnham

Nonetheless Continue reading

Elected officials from Valdosta and 12 downstream Florida Counties 2019-04-10

Update 2019-04-12: Videos.

Update 2019-03-14: The Valdosta City Clerk says the Valdosta City Manager says “the public will have an opportunity to speak.”

As discussed in Lake City when the dozen downstream Florida counties passed their resolution, and as foreshadowed by Emma Wheeler on WCTV, and now confirmed by Valdosta City Clerk Teresa Bolden, elected officials from Valdosta and twelve Florida counties will meet to discuss Valdosta wastewater spills and how to stop them. She also confirmed that since there will be a quorum of the Valdosta City Council there, this will be a public meeting.

When: 6PM, Wednesday, April 10, 2019

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

Event: facebook, meetup

Valdosta City Hall Annex
Photo: Ellis, Ricket & Associates.

It’s not clear the public will be able to speak, but you can come and see for yourself. As I told the Valdosta City Clerk, this afternoon I already invited the Suwannee River Water Management District and everybody else who was in their meeting. Valdosta will probably publish an announcement soon, but so far we at least know the meeting will happen and it will be public. Y’all come.

Back on Continue reading

Videos: Florida Rivers Task Force about Valdosta Wastewater 2019-02-28

Update 2019-03-17: Valdosta has agreed to meet with the dozen downstream Florida counties, elected officials to elected officials, 6PM, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at Valdosta City Hall Annex, and “the public will have an opportunity to speak.”

A dozen downstream Florida counties want to meet with the Valdosta City Council, elected officials to elected officials, to present a resolution they passed urging the states of Florida and Georgia to do something about Valdosta’s sewage, and to discuss raising funds to help Valdosta fix its sewage infrastructure, so the Florida counties can restore their eco-tourism on the Withlacoochee, Alapaha, Suwannee, and Santa Fe Rivers. Restoring eco-tourism came up again and again. It’s not just the actual sewage, which never gets to Taylor or Alachua Counties. It’s the stigma of sewage in the rivers. Fixing Valdosta’s spills and regular testing to find other sources are needed.

Valdosta said no. So delegates from all dozen counties are going to come to the March 21, 2019, Valdosta City Council Regular Session and speak in Citizens to Be Heard, three minutes each, some time after 5:30 PM that Thursday evening.

[Movie: Approval of Resolution (115M)]
Movie: Approval of Resolution (115M) Task Force, clockwise from front: Scott R. Koons (NCFRPC), Ken Cornell (Alachua County), Anthony Adams (Lafayette County), Don Hale (Suwannee County), Gene Higginbotham (Dixie County), Kenrick Thomas (Gilchrist County), Danny Riddick (Bradford County), Thomas Demps (Taylor County), Beth Burnam (Hamilton County), Rick Davis (Chair, Madison County)

Apparently Valdosta told them that Valdosta doesn’t do workshops or joint meetings, which is curious, since Valdosta’s city council members a month earlier met with council members from all the other Lowndes County cities and the Lowndes County Commissioners about their Service Delivery Strategy, which includes wastewater. Last year, members of Valdosta Mayor and Council met with elected officials Continue reading

Resolution pending by Rivers Task Force in Lake City meeting 2019-02-28

Received Thursday. The Rivers Task Force of the dozen downstream Florida counties will be voting next Thursday on a resolution asking the State of Florida (FDEP, SRWMD, etc.) to do something about Valdosta’s sewage spills.

[4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL]
4PM Thu 28 Feb 2019, Holiday Inn, Lake City, FL

When: 4PM, Thursday, February 28, 2019

Where: Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, 213 Southwest Commerce Boulevard, Lake City, Florida

What: A meeting of the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force

Directions: From the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. Highway 90 (exit 427) in the City of Lake City turn, East onto U.S. Highway 90, travel approximately 450 feet to SW Commerce Blvd, turn right (South) onto SW Commerce Blvd, travel approximately 720 feet and the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites is on the left.

The agenda, after the customary introductory items, has only a resolution and Next Steps.

[Resolution and Next Steps]
Resolution and Next Steps

Not on the agenda, but mentioned in the minutes of the previous meeting:

The Task Force agreed that the next steps should be to request a meeting with the Governor and Commissioner of Agriculture. Chair Davis informed the Task Force that the next meeting will be held on Continue reading

Waterkeepers Florida signs Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida 2018-12-19

In one of its first actions at its first official board meeting, WATERKEEPERS(R) FLORIDA voted to sign the Resolution Against Phosphate Mines in Florida, December 19, 2018.

This opposition throughout Florida to phosphate mines anywhere in the state is especially timely, with public hearings and a vote coming up in January soon in Bradford County on the HPS II phosphate mine application.

A dozen of its thirteen members had already signed for their individual organizations. According to its bylaws, all members of WATERKEEPERS Florida are now signed on with the organization. Besides, the thirteenth member, Continue reading

PBS airs part of Alan Toth’s Phosphate Mining Movie 2018-10-31

Some national news about the proposed phosphate mine in Union and Bradford Counties.

If the phosphate would not be processed in Union or Bradford Counties, as Jack Hazen says, the closest place with processing capability is the Nutrien (PCS) phosphate mine in Hamilton County, on the Suwannee River.

Judy Woodruff, 31 October 2018, PBS News Hour, Battle over phosphate mining roils small Florida town,

No-phosphate-mining, Union County

Laura Newberry:

Union County commissioners recently passed a one-year moratorium on mining permits, but Bradford County commissioners are still considering the mine.

Carol Mosley:

Continue reading

Low water in Suwannee River Basin with Hurricane Michael 2018-10-11

Thursday morning, the day after Hurricane Michael passed by to the west and north of the Suwannee River Basin, only Gopher River and the New River gauge near Lake Butler were in Action Stage.

Gulf to Atlantic, After Gauges

Does a place that nearly floods even when a hurricane is a hundred miles west of it seem like a good location for the HPS II phosphate mine, in Union and Bradford Counties, Florida ? Continue reading

World’s largest phosphate company after 20 years loses to DeSoto County, FL

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Mosaic Co., market cap $11.5 billion, just lost to DeSoto County, Florida, annual budget $84.3 million. Maybe this will help Bradford County to do the right thing about phosphate mines.

Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times, 26 July 2018, Mosaic spent 20 years planning new phosphate mine. DeSoto County has rejected it,

Mosaic Co., the world’s largest phosphate company, has spent two decades lining up a new mine in DeSoto County as part of a broader effort to move its operations south.

W across PCS Phosphate Mine,
Photo: Jim Tatum on Southwings flight for WWALS, 2016-10-22: W across PCS Phosphate Mine, 30.4429360, -82.7851800

But DeSoto County commissioners last week slammed the door in the company’s face, voting 4-1 against rezoning 18,000 acres from agricultural to mining.

A major concern: Continue reading