Hale: Task Force continues to apply pressure on spills. MEETING REMINDER THURS. JAN. 23, LIVE OAK, 4 PM

Madvaldostagroup In: Hale: Task Force continues to apply pressure on spills.  MEETING REMINDER THURS. JAN. 23, LIVE OAK, 4 PM | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Valdosta Utilities representative Darryl Muse addresses the task force. Photo by Jim Tatum.

The colossal December sewage spill from Valdosta is just now reaching the Suwannee River, and Floridians have not forgotten.  A reminder that this task force will meet Jan. 23 in Lake City, 4 PM, and the public is invited.  Attend this meeting and demand accountability from Valdosta.

Thanks to Betty Johnson for this information.

Read the original article here in the Suwannee Democrat.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
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Hale: Task Force continues to apply pressure on spills

madvaldostaHale In: Hale: Task Force continues to apply pressure on spills.  MEETING REMINDER THURS. JAN. 23, LIVE OAK, 4 PM | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. | Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida
Don Hale. Photo by Jim Tatum.

LIVE OAK — It’s not just a river to Don Hale.

Rather, the Suwannee River is his life in a lot of ways.

“I grew up on the Suwannee,” said Hale, a member of the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners and a member on the Middle and Lower Suwannee River and Withlacoochee River Task Force, whose grandfather served as a park ranger in the Suwannee River State Park. “That really is our life. It always has been.”

That close relationship with the river — one that isn’t unique to him — is what has made Hale so concerned and, at times, mad about the ongoing wastewater spills from Valdosta, Georgia.

Those concerns were amplified by the latest spill — a 7.5 million gallon spill in December that went undetected for several days following human error.

But also adding to the concern and angering Hale was the South Georgia city’s response.

In the notification that Valdosta sent to members of the Task Force as well as the Florida Department of Health, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Suwannee River Water Management District, Hale said it was described as occurring in a heavily wooded area. Nowhere in that initial information was it mentioned that Sugar Creek was affected, which in turn affects the Withlacoochee River and, in time, the Suwannee River.

“The email they sent didn’t have all the information in it and that really did aggravate me,” he said….

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division told the Valdosta Daily Times in December it will take punitive action against the city, but those actions have yet to be decided. The Georgia EPD has not fined Valdosta for any of its previous wastewater spills.

Hale said representatives from U.S. Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio as well as members of State Rep. Chuck Brannan and State Sen. Rob Bradley’s staffs have attended the Task Force meetings.

State Sen. Bill Montford hosted another meeting last week in Madison on the issue, one that wasn’t attended by any Georgia officials despite invitations.

“Everybody is involved,” Hale said, adding concerned North Florida residents should reach out to their Congressmen and state legislators about the issue. “It’s just one of those things where we’re just going to keep yelling until we get loud enough that we get somebody’s attention.

“Hopefully (the state legislators) will take this back to the powers that be in Florida and get some momentum behind this and get something going.”

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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