STREAM MONITORING ...

S.C. Adopt-a-Stream program

DHEC, Clemson will promote, expand volunteer stream-monitoring efforts

Pickens County Extension Agent Charly McConnell (left) leads a stream-monitoring exercise. (Courtesy of Clemson University)

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence are partnering to form the South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream program.

DHEC and Clemson will promote and expand existing South Carolina volunteer stream-monitoring efforts by providing volunteer monitors with a website for information, a database to maintain water quality-monitoring data, training classes and materials, and other useful resources.

Numerous volunteer organizations from across the state have already agreed to participate in this citizen river-monitoring program. These volunteer river stewards will spend a few hours each month documenting stream conditions and alerting local authorities if they exceed water quality standards or of evidence of illegal and illicit discharges.

“South Carolina is home to some of the most beautiful streams, rivers and watersheds in the world and we are committed to doing our part to protect these beloved natural resources,” said Catherine E. Heigel, DHEC director. “Our citizens deserve the opportunity to fish, swim and play in clean rivers and streams and this program helps make that a reality.”

“This is an exciting opportunity to engage the public in a program to promote water quality awareness and provide interested residents opportunities to protect our shared water resources,” said Katie Buckley, Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence director. “The Georgia Adopt-A-Stream program already has approximately 60 volunteer groups monitoring over 100 streams in South Carolina. The program has received a great deal of national and statewide attention, and interest is increasing.”

The South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream volunteers will be certified to collect the following types of stream data:

  • Visual — documenting the conditions of a river, stream bed, stream banks and floodplain.
  • Chemical — tracking basic stream conditions over time, including clarity, dissolved oxygen, conductivity and more.
  • Bacteria — monitoring for fecal pollution and how this may be affected by storm events and, over time, watershed changes. This important monitoring is also used for reporting of potential wastewater pollution or other bacteria-laden pollution to surface waters.
  • Macroinvertebrate — the “canaries in the coal mine of water quality,” macroinvertebrates and their community species’ richness and population are indicators of healthy or polluted waterways. This special monitoring tracks changes over time to a stream and stream bed’s conditions and ecosystem health or stress.

South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream river stewards will be trained and certified in sample- and data-collection protocols designed to inform future monitoring efforts, infrastructure repairs, restoration priorities and more. Training events will be posted at http://www.clemson.edu/public/water/watershed/scaas/aas-events.html.

— Jonathan Veit, Public Service and Agriculture, Clemson University

For more news from South Carolina, click here.

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