News 2023

News Stories about WWALS 2023.
For the rest see News.

  • Valdosta Today, July 14, 2023, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest returns (WWALS blog post),

    HAHIRA — The Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest returns with Chuck Roberts as M.C. plus WWALS River Revue.


    [Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest returns --Valdosta Today 2023-07-14]
    Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest returns –Valdosta Today 2023-07-14
    in Pictures: Portage Big Shoals, Paddle Little Shoals, Suwannee River, by John S. Quarterman, for, 20 May 2023, MC Chuck Roberts, Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2023

    Chuck Roberts returns as M.C. for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest plus WWALS River Revue.

    Master of Ceremonies Chuck Roberts says about himself, “I grew up in Quitman and Valdosta, raised by two loving musical parents to enjoy and appreciate ALL kinds of music, because the arts enrich the mind and nourish the soul. Presbyterian Church Minister of Music for over 30 years. St. James Episcopal Soloist for over 25 years. Sang with Botie Chitty and The Singing Americans for 10 years. Recently sang two solos with Ed Barr Orchestra for Turner Center Arts AMERICAN SOUNDTRACK VOL. IX. I have the sweetest wife in the world, Sheila and three beautiful and talented daughters and two talented sons, and a new Golden Doodle puppy.”

    “I’m very pleased to welcome Chuck Roberts back again as M.C.,” said WWALS President Sara Jay Jones.

    This first-ever WWALS gala is an indoor fundraising gala, with catered sit-down meal, speakers, silent auction, and kayak raffle. It will be held 6-10 PM, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, Georgia.

    Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and more:

  • WWALS wins Rivers Alive Adopt-A-Stream cleanup award

    Valdosta Today, June 6, 2023, VALDOSTA – The Georgia Rivers Alive recently presented WWALS with the 2022 Adopt-A-Stream Award for cleanups.

    [Nankin Boat Ramp 2022-12-17, Statenville Boat Ramp 2023-01-07, and Adopt-A-Stream Award 2023-04-27]
    Photo: Clyattville-Nankin Boat Ramp on a WWALS cleanup that started at Knights Ferry Boat Ramp on the Withlacoochee River and the 2023 Alapaha River cleanup at Statenville Boat Ramp in Echols County, Georgia. Russell Allen McBride (pictured on the left), Amy Myers (light top holding the WWALS banner), Will Hart (dark blue), Bobby McKenzie (with trash picker holding Suwannee Riverkeeper banner)

    Release: [see WWALS PR].

  • 2023-05-16: Valdosta Today, May 16, 2023, WWALS hosts 2023 Inaugural Fundraising Dinner,

    HAHIRA – WWALS will incorporated the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest with the River Revue for the 2023 Inaugural Fundraising Dinner.

    Release: [see WWALS PR).

    [WWALS River Revue]
    WWALS River Revue

  • 2023-05-09: Valdosta Lee Street Detention Pond Trash Trap –Florida Specifier 2023-05-03.

    This brief mention in a Florida state-wide bi-monthly environmental review newspaper is mostly right as far as it goes. Many more people and some personnel changes at the city of Valdosta were involved.

    [Valdosta Lee Street Detention Pond Trash Trap and Florida Specifier article]
    Valdosta Lee Street Detention Pond Trash Trap and Florida Specifier article

    Florida Specifier, April-May 2023, Valdosta trapping trash from entering waterways,

    The City of Valdosta announced the deployment of the Lee Street detention pond trash trap to stop trash from entering waterways. John Quarterman, the Suwannee [R]iverkeeper and the riverkeeper watershed organization, WWALS, have expressed concern over trash in the city’s waterways for some time.

    The City responded with the newly installed trash trap designed and constructed for roughly $5,000.

    The Lee Street trap is being considered a model for installation at similar sites.

    The Riverkeeper also is advocating solutions such as issuing citations that enforce trash littering regulations.

  • 2023-04-24: Valdosta Today, April 24, 2023, WWALS give paddlers free Little River tour (see WWALS PR),

    HAHIRA – WWALS will host a free guided tour of the Little River for paddles to learn about the rivers natural history.

  • 2023-04-03: Local News, Valdosta Today, April 3, 2023, Valdosta City officicals invited to help cleanup river,

    HAHIRA – WWALS invited Valdosta City officials to help with the third cleanup to collect trash from the Withlacoochee River.

    [Cleanup at floating trash jam, banners at start 2022-12-17]

    See WWALS PR for the rest.

  • 2023-03-09: Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, March 9, 2023 (see also WWALS blog post), Group calls for city trash reforms,

    VALDOSTA — In the WWALS Watershed Coalition’s eyes, the city needs to clean up its act.

    [Sugar Creek Beach, trash, WaterGoat trash trap, Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, Suwannee Riverkeeper]
    Sugar Creek Beach, trash, WaterGoat trash trap, Valdosta Mayor Scott James Matheson, Suwannee Riverkeeper

    John Quarterman, Suwannee [R]iverkeeper of WWALS, and Bobby McKenzie, [former] WWALS intern, have expressed concern over trash pile ups in the city’s waterways, particularly in Sugar Creek.

    [Green ball trash, 2022-01-23, 11:58:12, 30.8632783, -83.3190173]
    Green ball trash, 2022-01-23, 11:58:12, 30.8632783, -83.3190173

    “Sugar Creek itself could be a recreational asset for the city, at least from Baytree Road to the Withlacoochee River, with sand beaches, willow and sycamore trees and a long stretch of right bank owned by Valdosta above Gornto Road, plus Bland Park backs up from Park Lane to the creek. Many other cities make parks of their creeks and rivers, with hiking and biking trails, picnic tables and boating facilities,” Quarterman said.

  • 2023-03-05: Brittanye Blake, valdosta Daily Times (see also WWALS blog post), March 5, 2023, Up the River: Paddle focuses on clean waters

    See also the WWALS video of what the Mayor and Chairman said.

    VALDOSTA — Mayor Scott James Matheson and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter led the Fourth Annual Withlacoochee River paddle last weekend.

    [Getting in, 10:12:31, 30.8514595, -83.3475713]
    Getting in, 10:12:31, 30.8514595, -83.3475713

  • 2023-02-27: Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, February 27, 2023, Elected officials continue paddle tradition,

    [Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19]
    Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19

    VALDOSTA — Mayor Scott James Matheson and Lowndes County Commission Chairman Bill Slaughter are making a splash with the return of the annual Withlacoochee River paddle Saturday, March 4.

    Matheson and Slaughter will embark on an 11-mile river paddle, past the future site of Troupville River Camp and Nature Park, along the Suwannee River Basin, past Valdosta’s outfall of its Withlacoochee Wastewater Treatment Plant and down to Spook Bridge.

    Matheson started the tradition in 2020 and has partnered with the WWALS Watershed Coalition ever since as a way for the community to appreciate its surroundings.

    “I am excited to partner once again with WWALS, plus this time with Lowndes County, to show people our fabulous blackwater rivers, only a few miles from City Hall and VSU. After the largest infrastructure project and single largest financial commitment in the history of our city was made toward a completely modern sewer system, we are now exploring the next phase toward beautifying our area’s waterways,” he said.

    “Council and city staff will be addressing the most cost-effective way to educate our citizens and eliminate the trash littering our streets that eventually makes (it) into our creeks and rivers. The fight will begin with further education of our friends and neighbors combined with additional focus from city staff and volunteers. I invite everyone to come out and join us for a day of fellowship on the river.”

    Paddlers can gather at Troupville Boat Ramp, 19664 Valdosta Highway, 8 a.m., leave at 10 a.m. and return at 4 p.m., March 4.

    A slot can be reserved for $30 online or at the event.

    For more information, visit
  • 2023-02-14: Fernando Figueroa, WUFT, February 14, 2023, Community members speak up about new “forever chemicals” study

    “This stuff is in everything,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John Quarterman.

    [Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30]
    Sullivan Launch PFAS sample, US 41, Knights Ferry, State Line, Sullivan Launch, Withlacoochee River 2022-06-30

    These compounds can affect the human immune system at very low levels, which impacts antibody levels in response to vaccinations or how well people can fight off infections, she said. People’s livers, kidneys and reproductive organs are also at risk.

    PFAS chemicals that were phased out decades ago can still be found in fish and other wildlife, and current wastewater processing techniques are not designed to filter them out.

    “It just passes right through,” Quarterman said.

    As a result, these chemicals can build up in natural environments by leaching from landfills and into rivers or other waterways. Then, they stick to proteins in vegetation, such as seagrass, which is then consumed by fish, which are then eaten by larger fish, and so on, until they get caught and consumed by humans. It is important to note that fish lower in the food chain can still contain high concentrations of PFAS.

    For Quarterman, the inaction from the EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is a result of decades of defunding. He is also concerned with the state of Florida politics.

    “I mean, if there was political direction, why is there a red tide every summer?” he asked.

  • 2023-01-30: Valdosta Today, WWALS partners with Valdosta Mayor for river paddle,

    [Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19]
    Paddlers on the Withlacoochee River, Photo: John S. Quarterman 2022-02-19

    VALDOSTA – The community is invited to join the fourth annual Mayor and Chairman’s Paddle on the Withlacoochee River.

    See the WWALS press release.

  • 2023-01-26: Lowndes County nixes planned Dollar General –VDT 2023-01-26,

    Thank you, Lowndes County Commission, and all the opposition speakers and writers, for this win written up in the local newspaper of record.

    This win keeps some trash out of the Withlacoochee River, upstream from Valdosta and Florida, while stopping a foothold for further development too close to the river, avoiding clearcutting, impervious surface, and the flooding that would have caused.

    Malia Thomas, Valdosta Daily Times, January 26, 2023, County nixes planned Dollar General,

    VALDOSTA — Lowndes County residents felt heard as a contentious zoning request for a rural Dollar General was denied by the Lowndes County Commission.

    [Hearing, Location, Withlacoochee River]
    Hearing, Location, Withlacoochee River

  • 2023-01-25: Keep tugging on the not-to-mine end of the Okefenokee rope –Dink Nesmith 2023-01-25,

    Yes, why not this? “Why not have a rural development strike force that can laser in on the Charlton counties of Georgia? With enough bright minds, willpower and sufficient investment, oxygen can be pumped into the gasping communities that are—for the most part—on life support.”

    That would be way better than a strip mine near the Okefenokee Swamp, the headwaters of the Suwannee and St Marys Rivers, above the Floridan Aquifer, from which we all drink.

    Dink Nesmith, Georgia Recorder, January 25, 2023, Okefenokee tug-o-war is long way from over,

    [Protest and Dragline]
    Protest and Dragline

    The opposing sides are not barefoot on Jekyll Island’s beach, but there’s a definite line drawn in the sand. Feet are dug in, and muscles are straining. On one side is an Alabama mining company and its fleet of high-powered lobbyists. Pulling the other way are millions of nature-loving Georgians who want to thwart Twin Pines Minerals from strip-mining near the Okefenokee Swamp.

    This tug-o-war has been off and on for years. First it was….

  • 2023-01-09: Maria Saporta, Saporta Report, January 9, 2023, Southern Co. leadership moves continue smooth transition with several ‘firsts’,

    [Tom Fanning with environtmentalists; Photo: Maria Saporta 2023-05-25]
    Southern Co. CEO Tom Fanning (second from left) visits with environmentalists Brionte McCorkle, Mark Woodall and John Quarterman after the 2022 annual meeting. (Photo by Maria Saporta.)

  • 2023-01-01: Terry Richards, Yahoo News and Valdosta Daily Times, January 1 2023, Valdosta on record opposing mining operation (WWALS blog),

    Jan. 1—VALDOSTA — More than a year ago the Valdosta City Council joined lawmakers across South Georgia opposing controversial mining plans near the Okefenokee Swamp.

    At the time, the president of the mining company said he was not concerned about local resolutions like the one passed by Valdosta.

    “The Valdosta City Council’s resolution has no impact on our plans whatsoever,” said Steve Ingle, president of Twin Pines Minerals, in a statement.

    Valdosta City Council voted Nov. 11, 2021 to oppose Twin Pines’ plans to start a mining project near the Okefenokee Swamp, about 75 miles from Valdosta. The vote was 6-0….

    [Dragline on TPM mine site 2022-09-27 and Valdosta City Council 2021-11-11]
    Dragline on TPM mine site 2022-09-27 and Valdosta City Council 2021-11-11