2015-07-08: 2014-2015 WWALS Annual Report

WWALS Watershed Coalition
Annual Report
2014 – 2015

8 July 2015

1. Overview

WWALS Watershed Coalition had many successes in its third year. Two significant accomplishments were the recognition as a WATERKEEPER® Affiliate and the work on the Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT). In May WWALS completed the requirements of development and printing of materials about the Alapaha River Water Trail set out in the Georgia River Network, Turner Re-grant from 2014. Raising money for signs at ARWT access points and placing them remains to be done. WWALS is looking for more members for that committee, for the new Withlacoochee and Little River Water Trail, and for other committees.

In June WWALS was officially designated as a WATERKEEPER® Affiliate by the WATERKEEPER® Alliance.

WWALS raised about $3250 in memberships, donations and in-kind donations.

The group held four full board meetings (July, October, January, April) and many subcommittee meetings. Two conference days were held at Gaskins Forest Education Center (December and April March) regarding the development of the ARWT. There were eleven paddle outings, one hike and two trash pickups. WWALS established a monthly newsletter and published numerous blog posts and several press releases in an effort to raise awareness about the watershed.

Advocacy of on behalf of the rivers and watershed continued with many areas including water levels, pipelines, industrial farming, and chemical spill sites and facilitation of a meeting among interested parties about the Valdosta waste water situation.

2. Officers and Board

The board for 2014-2015 included

John S. Quarterman, President,
Dave Hetzel, Ambassador,
Garry Gentry, Secretary
Gretchen Quarterman, Treasurer,
Al Browning,
Chris Graham,
Chris Mericle (succeeding April Huntley in December),
Karan Rawlins,
Bret Wagenhorst

3. Financial Report

The ending balance in all accounts on July 1, 2015 was $3709.07 A variety of general bills were paid including, liability insurance, Director’s and Officers Insurance, and web site renewal. The ARWT account had special donations for logo prize contest which amounted to $200.00 cash and several in-kind donations including tickets to Wild Adventures theme park. The logo contest was covered by five news stories. Of the $1250 received for the project, $852.87 was paid for the printing and $250 for the design of the brochure.

The Big Little River Paddle Event was in May and was held in conjunction with the Friends of Reed Bingham (FORB). Coordinated by WWALS Board Member Bret Wagenhorst, the paddle event was well attended and attracted attention to the need for watershed advocacy. The amount raised by the Paddle event was $570 for each of WWALS and FORB.

4. Meetings

The board held four in-person meetings in Adel Georgia and many subcommittee meetings during the year both in-person and by teleconference. The subcommittees meet on an as-needed basis or regularly and include Executive, Nominating, Membership, Outings, Events, Public Relations, Alapaha River Water Trail, Withlacoochee River Water Trail, and Pipeline. Committees are made up of WWALS board members and regular members who are interested in specific projects.

WWALS had two special events centered around the Alapaha River Water Trail at the Gaskins Forest Education Center and had speakers of Al Browning, Burt Carter, Chris Graham, Dave Hetzel, Deanna Mericle, Dennis Price, John Quarterman, and Martin Register. First prize in the student logo contest for the ARWT went to Maya Turner, senior at Tift County High School.

5. Outings

WWALS held fourteen outings which included

LS held fourteen outings which included

  • 6/14/2015 Sasser landing to Jennings Bluff
  • 5/25/2015 GA 168 paddle
  • 5/25/2015 Lewis Lake paddle
  • 5/16/2015 BIG Little River Paddle Event
  • 4/18/2015 Rowe Town Church to GA 135
  • 3/14/2015 Easy paddle at GA 135
  • 2/15/2015 Statenville to Sasser Landing
  • 1/17/2015 Expert Paddle on the Alapaha River at US 82
  • 12/20/2014 Alapaha Dry River – Trash pickup
  • 11/22/2014 Okefenokee Outing
  • 10/26/2014 Dead River Sink
  • 9/27/2014 Alapaha River Cleanup at US 82 (Adopt-A-Stream)
  • 9/21/2014 Withlacoochee and Suwannee Paddle
  • 8/24/2014 Hotchkiss Crossing Lanier Side

The outings were well attended with over 50 different individuals participating.

6. 2015 Goals

For the 2015 year, the board set the following goals:

(1) Participate in Rivers Alive clean up.

(2) Outreach to schools to teach students about watershed health and science.

(3) Do invasive species monitoring and water quality monitoring on all WWALS outings.

(4) Water quality certification for as many people & members as possible & partner with Adopt-a-Stream.

(5) Map encroachment, water quality, invasive species, pesticide run off and share information (overarching goal).

(6) Get WWALS involved in watershed mapping of floodplains by Army Corps of Engineers in our watershed areas.

(7) Waycross superfund site mess how relates to WWALS watersheds.

(8) Oppose the Sabal Trail methane pipeline.

(9) Alapaha River Water Trail.

(10) Raise funds to hire an Executive Director.

(11) Valdosta Wastewater.

(12) Raise awareness about corporate agricultural land acquisitions and practices as they affect WWALS watersheds and the Floridan Aquifer.

7. Meeting Goals and Raising Awareness

Recognition as a Waterkeeper® Affiliate has promoted WWALS visibility throughout the region by affiliation with this national organization. Our work education people about potential dangers facing the rivers and aquifer has garnered recognition throughout Georgia.

Keeping the rivers clean and promoting good stewardship was realized in two river clean up events.

Students in several school districts were engaged in the Alapaha River Water Trail Logo Contests. Several members were trained in water quality testing procedures at Reed Bingham in the spring.

President Ambassador Dave Hetzel attended the Georgia Water Coalition meeting in November. John and Gretchen Quarterman attended training for non-profit board members offered by several South Georgia Chambers of Commerce. Dave Hetzel represented WWALS at the “Day in the Woods” event at the Gaskins Forest Education Center in April. John Quarterman represented WWALS on an environmental issues panel discussion held by the Lowndes County Democratic Party in June.

Letters were written in support of landowners who are being sued by Sabal Trail which is proposing a pipeline that is potentially hazardous to the Withlacoochee River and the Floridan Aquifer.

WWALS proposed to the Georgia Water Coalition to list the Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline in the Dirty Dozen 2014, and with support from many other water groups it appeared as number 9. WWALS’ opposition to that pipeline was covered by WCTV, the Valdosta Daily Times, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

WWALS was instrumental in encouraging the City of Valdosta to hold a meeting on the progress of new wastewater facilities to inform interested parties from as far away as Atlanta, GA and Ft. White, FL.

WWALS established a monthly newsletter in February, updating members and the public about monthly events.

The WWALS web site (www.wwals.net) is a resource to the community at large (local, state, and national) about the activities and issues in the WWALS watershed and has detailed information, including many photos about the Alapaha River Water Trail.

7. Conclusion

Several significant steps forward were made this year including becoming a Waterkeeper® Affiliate and working to establish the Alapaha River Water Trail in conjunction with the Georgia River Network.

Focus continues on fund raising to support projects including hiring an executive director, water trail establishment, education about the sensitivity of the watershed, leading community events which raise awareness of the importance of our watershed and to act as an advocate on issues of watershed conservation and stewardship.

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