Report on Activities, next steps, citizen comments @ FL Rivers Task Force 2020-01-23

Received today, a notice that the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force will be meeting next Thursday:

When: 4PM, Thursday, January 23, 2020

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

[Agenda]
Agenda

How to get there: Continue reading

Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15

The Mayor’s Paddle is still a go for tomorrow (Saturday), according to results from Lowndes County and WWALS for Wednesday, January 15, 2020.

[Valdosta caution sign gone]
Valdosta caution sign gone at Troupville Boat Ramp

From way up at US 41 (North Valdosta Road), all the way to Saturday’s takeout, Spook Bridge (thanks, Langdale Company), WWALS got results well within state water quality standards.

[2020-01-15 GA green, FL red]
2020-01-15 GA green, FL red
The entire spreadsheet is on the WWALS website.

For Knights Ferry and Nankin Boat Ramps, Lowndes County got Continue reading

SRWMD slides and water quality data after Valdosta raw sewage spill, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-14

Update 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15

Here’s why we keep sampling.

Suwannee Riverkeeper sampling water at Troupville Boat Ramp
Suwannee Riverkeeper sampling water at Troupville Boat Ramp, Emma Wheeler, WCTV, January 15, 2020, Withlacoochee River tested ahead of Mayor’s Paddle.

SRWMD reports high bacterial counts for the third time at State Line (GA 31), and again at CR 150 (Sullivan Launch).

[SRWMD 2020-01-14 (WWALS composite spreadsheet)]
SRWMD 2020-01-14 (WWALS composite spreadsheet)

Will the Mayor’s Paddle happen as scheduled this Saturday, January 18, upstream (See Albany Herald, January 15, 2020)on the Withlacoochee River?

That depends on Continue reading

How Florida can pick up slack from FERC shirking its LNG oversight duties –Cecile Scofield in TCPalm 2020-01-15

Longtime WWALS member Cecile Scofield in TCPalm, January 15, 2020, Liquified natural gas needs regulation in Florida,

You and a friend decide to go into business together. You draft your business plan and delineate each person’s responsibilities for the operation. But what happens if one of you decides to shirk your assigned duties? Your business venture will be doomed to failure.

[WWALS LNG Export Map]
WWALS LNG Export Map
PDF

This is exactly what has happened with regulating a new breed of inland Liquefied Natural Gas export facilities in Florida. A Memorandum of Understanding between the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) outlines each agency’s role in exercising regulatory authority over the siting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and expansion of LNG facilities. See https://tinyurl.com/tdhxazn.

LNG facilities are regulated, in part, by Continue reading

Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07

Georgia Department of Public Health (GA-DPH) was not informed by Valdosta of the December 2019 raw sewage spill; so far as I know, I was the first to tell DPH, as Suwannee Riverkeeper. Lowndes County Environmental Health did then offer free water well testing, for both Lowndes and Brooks Counties, Georgia.

However, DPH itself does not test river water, and was not asked by Valdosta to help advise the public of river contamination. DPH does not have authority to compell Valdosta to test or plant warning signs. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) does have such authority.

This is all in marked contrast to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which was informed by Valdosta, did put out three sequential warnings, and has been testing the Withlacoochee River. Seems like we need to get some policies or laws changed in Georgia.

[DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill]
DPH was not notified of Valdosta sewage spill

For his speedy and informative response, I’d like to thank Continue reading

Recent water quality test results, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-01-11

Update 2020-01-15: Georgia Department of Health can’t or won’t do as much as FDOH 2020-01-07.

The Withlacoochee River still looks clean for the Mayor’s Paddle from Troupville Boat Ramp to Spook Bridge this Saturday.

SRWMD actually tested upstream from there last Wednesday at GA 133. SRWMD’s and FDEP’s test at US 84, Knights Ferry, and State Line Boat Ramp (GA 31) were also clean that day, and the next day FDOH tested at GA 31 and still found it clean. Suzy Hall tested for WWALS this Saturday, and found Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps clean.

[Most recent contamination]
Most recent contamination

The not so good news is that the most recent FDOH tests in Florida, Continue reading

No LNG by Rail Rule –WWALS to PHMSA 2020-01-13

One of seventeen reasons for PHMSA to reject its own proposed rule for LNG in rail tanker cars:

  • The solution to risks of leaks, wrecks, and explosions of LNG truck tankers is not to add another source of risk in LNG rail cars, no matter what design.

[FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville]
FEC Timetable North from Miami to Jacksonville

Many thanks to Maxine Connor and Cecile Scofield for comments, corrections, and additions of this WWALS comment, sent to the Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) yesterday, which was the deadline for comment on PHMSA Notice of Proposed Rulemanking (NPRM HM-264) Hazardous Materials: Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail, PHMSA Docket No. PHMSA-2018-0025.

Cecile also had already filed her own excellent comment. Both hers and this WWALS comment draw on a fascinatingly wrong and inadequate document Cecile previously obtained via FOIA: Continue reading

Water quality permitting, paddle with Mayor of Valdosta this Saturday 2020-01-18

Update 2020-01-17: Mostly clean in Georgia, not in Florida, Withlacoochee River 2020-01-15

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hahira, Georgia, January 13, 2020 — Water quality tests since last Wednesday are looking good for the Withlacoochee River in Georgia, and if those continue this Monday and Wednesday, it will be all clear to paddle with the new Mayor of Valdosta, Scott James, this Saturday, January 18, 2020. “We’ll paddle by the site of the projected Troupville River Camp, supported by Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia, and Madison and Hamilton Counties, Florida,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “We’ll also pass the outflow from Valdosta’s Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), which did not spill, although it is in a stretch of the river that was contaminated by Valdosta’s December 2019 record raw sewage spill.”

[Movie: WWTP Outfall, 11:23:17, 30.83622, -83.35924 (15M)]
WWTP Outfall, 2019-06-15 30.8362200, -83.3592400

Mayor Scott James was quoted in Valdosta Today:

“The paddle was requested by me and John was gracious enough to organize it and call it the ‘Mayor’s Paddle.’ It is to show my commitment to zero tolerance for future spills and to show my love for our natural resources.”

“The only way to dispell the stigma of sewage spills that affects the entire Suwannee River Basin, is frequent, regular, water quality sampling with published results,” added Quarterman. “The dozen-county Florida Rivers Task Force to deal with Valdosta sewage wants to promote cross-state-line eco-tourism. We should all be marketing our rivers. We are, with this paddle, and with Troupville River Camp. But we need a solid foundation of testing so we can say when the rivers are clean, and the few (we hope) times when they are not.”

WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc., parent organization of Suwannee Riverkeeper, will be collecting water quality samples this Wednesday at numerous points on the Withlacoochee River to have current results before the paddle. Lowndes County (which has its own sewer system, that did not spill) is sampling weekly. The Florida Department of Enviromental Protection (FDEP) and the Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD) are sampling downstream, and SRWMD has even sampled some sites well into Georgia. WWALS is publishing all this data, along with what data Valdosta has supplied in response to open records requests, online:
http://wwals.net/issues/vww/valdosta-spills/#vldrecord2019

On the paddle, WWALS will be sampling above and below the WWTP outfall and at other locations along the route.

Meanwhile, the recent rains have provided plenty of water in the river, several feet more than when we paddled the same route with 300 people in Paddle Georgia in June 2019, so we should have smooth sailing!

How To Paddle with the Mayor

Continue reading

Signs in Georgia on Withlacoochee River and new data; thanks Lowndes County and SRWMD 2020-01-10

Update 2020-01-14: Recent water quality test results, Withlacoochee and Suwannee Rivers 2020-01-11

There are two warning signs at each of Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps as of yesterday: by Lowndes County, and by WWALS. According to new data from Wednesday evening, those signs may not have been necessary, but at this point better safe than sorry. The new data did not come from Valdosta, nor did the signs.

[County and WWALS warning signs]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, County and WWALS warning signs at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp, 2020-01-10

Thanks to Lowndes County and Chairman Bill Slaughter for testing at Knights Ferry, Nankin, and State Line Boat Ramps, and for making and planting those tall metal caution signs after the county numbers for Monday, January 6, 2020, were quite high. The county is now doing weekly testing, including at additional locations.

Just in case, WWALS also made signs and placed them. Continue reading

Redo: Ichetucknee and Sante Fe River Paddle 2020-01-20

Leisurely paddle on the newest river additions to WWALS and Suwannee Riverkeeper, round 2. It was such a great time, we had to do it again, on the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers. We will also paddle past the notorious Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline.

When: Gather 9 AM, launch 10:30 AM, Saturday, January 4, 2020

Put In: Ichetucknee S.P. North Entrance, 8294 SW Elim Church Rd, Fort White, FL 32038.

GPS: 29.9859, -82.7602

Take Out: Hwy 129 Boat Ramp, William Guy Lemmons Memorial Park Ramp @ 296th St. Ramp, From Branford, travel east on US 27; turn right on US 129; travel south to 296th Street; turn right and William Guy Lemons Memorial Park is on the left, in Suwannee County. 29.912717, -82.860514

Bring: the usual personal flotation device, boat paddles, food, drinking water, warm clothes, and first aid kit. Also trash pickers and trash bags: every WWALS outing is also a cleanup.

NOTE: The Ichetucknee is a non-disposable river; do not have any food or drinks in disposable packaging. All liquids and foods should be in reusable type containers. This helps keep litter out of our rivers.

Free: This outing is free to WWALS members, and $10 (ten dollars) for non-members. We recommend you support the work of WWALS by becoming a WWALS member today!

Fee: There is a $5.00 park fee.

Event: facebook, meetup

[Boards and boats]
Photo: John S. Quarterman, Boards and boats, 2020-01-04.

Continue reading