Tag Archives: Department of Natural Resources

WWALS Honored at Georgia DNR Confluence Conference as Volunteers of the Year 2020-08-29

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, August 31, 2020 — WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman zoomed into the annual Georgia Adopt-A-Stream Confluence conference on Saturday, August 29, 2020, so WWALS could receive the statewide Volunteer of the Year award while we were finishing the Twomile Branch Cleanup.

[Award and Cleanup]
Award and Cleanup

The award is for “Individual has gone beyond the call of duty to improve water quality and meet AAS goals.” We emphasized it was not just one volunteer, but many, in our one-minute award acceptance video. We also thanked Georgia Power again for a grant. We didn’t have time to mention we’re getting testing kits to WWALS testers in Florida, upcoming WWALS water quality testing training, and branching out to the Santa Fe River, but all that is in this post.

Testers shown in the video include Sara Jay, Scotti Jay, Suzy Hall, Alex Chesna, Bobby McKenzie, Jacob Bachrach, and Trudy Cole. 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:
https://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

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (see also PDF)

Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order

Hahira, GA, May 4, 2020 — May 27th is the deadline to comment on the Enforcement Order the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) finally issued on Valdosta for sewage spills. For decades, Valdosta has spilled wastewater into the Withlacoochee River. People downstream, even on the Suwannee River all the way to the Gulf, worry about fishing, swimming, or even boating and some even say their wells are contaminated by fecal bacteria from these spills. Many had hoped that Valdosta’s big spills were over in 2016 with the new Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant uphill out of the flood plain, plus a Force Main with two Pump Stations. Valdosta says it has spent about $80 million on water system improvements. Yet the spills continued. The Order also reveals a massive fish kill.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

“The December 2019 spill was the biggest yet, with no rain, and nothing actually broke. It was a massive failure of supervision,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “Citizens and elected and appointed officials in Georgia and a dozen counties in Florida demanded something be done.”

This Enforcement Order includes the most popular request, 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, Florida, who was among the WWALS members who met with the City of Valdosta back in 2015 about these same sewage issues. She added, “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 Order addresses much (but not all) of what Suwannee Riverkeeper asked GA-EPD to do: https://wwals.net/?p=50979 For example, it requires the City to test water quality all the way down to the state line. One thing it does not include is any requirements for reimbursing downstream well and river testing expenses.

“It’s good to see that the EPD is FINALLY taking this issue seriously!” said Suzy Hall, WWALS Testing Committee Chair. “I can’t help but feel WWALS’ diligence in testing has been a big part of this action, and must continue regardless of any order for the City to conduct testing.”

The entire 93-page Order is on the WWALS website, here:
https://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 will finally get the City’s attention,” said Dr. Tom Potter, WWALS Science Committee Chair and taxpayer of the City of Valdosta.

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

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper contact@suwanneeriverkeeper.org
WWALS Watershed Coalition
850-290-2350, 229-242-0102
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632

===

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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

GA-EPD Enforcement Order for Valdosta wastewater with fine 2020-04-13

Update 2020-05-04: Press Release, Three weeks to comment on GA-EPD Valdosta wastewater Consent Order.

Much of what many people requested is in this Enforcement Order EPD-WP-8904 of the Public Notice of April 27, 2020.

[Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.]
Photo 1: Site where sewage flowed out of manhole into Sugar Creek.

Perhaps the most popular request, a fine, is included. As a Project In-Lieu of Penalty (PIP) stream testing is required, three times a week, down to the state line. Plus: “The Respondent shall post all the results of biological monitoring required after major spills to its website and to the Georgia EPD Adopt-A-Stream website within one business day of receipt of the results.”

All 250 sewer line creek crossings must be inspected by drone crews.

Valdosta must notify many Florida agencies, plus in Georgia Lowndes Health and Brooks EMA.

Other things are missing. WWALS is not on that notification list, for example.

[Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.]
Photo 2: Dead largemouth bass in Sugar Creek below Bay Tree Road.

And the Order reveals some Valdosta violations the public never knew about, such as a massive fish kill in December 2019. The cost of that calculated by GA-DNR Wildlife Division seems inadequate, since it doesn’t take into account people being unwilling to fish on the Withlacoochee River, for example.

If you think there should be more or changed requirements, the Public Comment period ends May 27, 2020.

Send comments to: Continue reading

Florida and Georgia Boat Ramps Status 2020-04-09

Yes, you can boat, fish, and swim on rivers and lakes during the stay-home period, in both Florida and Georgia, as long as you keep your distance. Don’t gather in large groups unless you want your favorite river or lake access to get closed, not to mention unless you want to get or transmit the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, for which there is no vaccine. Stay six feet apart, no large groups (usually no more than 10), and on the water stay at least 10 feet apart or 50 feet apart in Florida.

Below is a snapshot of conditions today. Check on your local park or ramp or launch before going for current conditions.

Also check on bacterial conditions, especially since last night’s rain.

Florida

Here’s a handy map that shows status of Florida boat ramps and launches. Red means closed. Blue means open.

[Florida]
Florida

Tony Acevedo, SaltStrong, 31 March 2020, This Map Shows Which Boat Ramps Are Closed & Which Are Open, Continue reading

Sinkhole, Sabal Trail, Okapilco Creek, Brooks County, GA 2017-09-19

Update 2017-09-21: Yes, I reported it to GA-EPD, et al. (PDF), and here are facebook photos of most of the images below.

How close to exposed is Sabal Trail’s pipe? This sinkhole is at least a foot deep, maybe two or more, and Sabal Trail only buried their pipe three feet deep, despite requests by Brooks, Colquitt, and Lowndes Counties to bury it deeper.

At sinkhole, Sinkhole

N of sinkhole, Sinkhole

Is that fill material exposed Continue reading

Lola Tract: WMA in Lanier and Lowndes Counties

Update 2019-05-09: fixed URLs and added map.

It has a name and it is listed: Lola Tract; WMA Stockton:

Offus84
Google Streetview, Lanier County CR 123 off of US 84 aka GA 38.

Lola Tract WMA is a 391 acre property near Stockton. Hunting opportunities include deer, bear, turkey and small game.

This property is only open during hunt dates.

Directions:

From Stockton Take Hwy. 84 west for 1.4 miles. WMA kiosk is on the right. WMA is on both sides of the river.

Voluntary Public Access Area

Continue reading

WMA in Lanier and Lowndes Counties

Yes, it’s a WMA on both sides of the Alapaha River, and it will open for hunting this year. It’s also one of seven or eight, all also Dr. Acree’s land. They will each have names, which are currently unknown, but will pop up in the next few days on the DNR website.

Floating downstream
Photo: John S. Quarterman, 2 April 2017, in Alapaha River, Hotchkiss Road to US 84 2017-04-02

This WMA information is from someone who’s been on site and knows the details, Continue reading

Drilling mud oozing up into the Withlacoochee River from Sabal Trail HDD

Update 2016-11-14: GWC Dirty Dozen Press Conference at US 84 Bridge with tour of Sabal Trail HDD 2016-11-16

Update 2016-11-13:Sabal Trail still leaking drilling mud into the Withlacoochee River at US 84 in GA 2016-11-12

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, GA, November 11th 2016 — Sabal Trail leaked drilling mud up from their HDD pilot hole into the Withlacoochee River. Turbidity curtains and black pipe from the north bank They knew this before WWALS asked two weeks ago what is that yellow thing in the river? They did not tell WWALS or the public that this thing they testified could not happen did happen. The evidence is in writing from Sabal Trail’s contractor to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

This wasn’t even the actual horizontal directional drilling (HDD) borehole: it was just the smaller pilot hole. What will happen to the Withlacoochee River (or nearby water wells) with the main borehole? What will happen to the Ochlockonee River west of Moultrie, GA? What will happen to the Santa Fe River, where Sabal Trail is drilling now, or the Suwannee River, where it will drill soon, both Outstanding Waters of Florida, supposed to have extra measures of environmental protection? What about the Tallapoosa, Chattahoochee, or the other Withlacoochee (south) River?

“Why should we accept any risk to our waters, or eminent domain to take our lands, for an unnecessary pipeline, now that Continue reading

Albany reporter objects to citizens asking a public official to represent them against the invading Sabal Trail pipeline

Thanks, Carlton Fletcher, for reminding the public the fight against Sabal Trail isn’t over! Come tell FERC what you think in Moultrie tonight, Valdosta Wednesday, or Lake City Thursday.

Asking our most local representatives to table or deny a motion threatening our Withlacoochee River and Okapilco Creek isn’t “magic”: it’s democracy. Maybe GA-DNR should publish contact information for its board members to make that easier. Meanwhile, David won against Goliath and we can too.

Carlton Fletcher, Albany Herald, 26 September 2015, CARLTON FLETCHER: Anti-pipeline letter steps over line: Continue reading