Enhanced Water Monitoring on Lower Saluda River Has Begun

A variety of stakeholders have come together to start an enhanced water quality monitoring program for the Lower Saluda Scenic River during the peak recreational season. DHEC is a key stakeholder in the group, whose goal is to encourage safe recreational use of the river.

Weekly water quality testing has begun and data will be available at LowerSaluda3howsmyscriver.org/saluda in the near future. The enhanced monitoring will provide more timely interventions as well as ultimately better protection of the river.

The Lower Saluda River Coalition is made up of river-related businesses, environmental groups, local and state government, property owners, industry and other users of the river.

One of the main purposes of the coalition is to ensure the safety of individuals recreating on the rivers and to educate the public on issues related to natural waters.

The first objective is to make water quality information more frequently and readily available to river users so they can make informed decisions on when to recreate in the river.  This is the first program of its type for inland waters. DHEC also has a robust beach monitoring program.

The enhanced monitoring program for the Lower Saluda will run from June to September this year and May through September in future years.  It involves eight monitoring locations that will be sampled weekly.  The first sampling event was June 21. Results from the sampling will be on the website soon.

School Wellness Success at Bamberg One’s Richard Carroll Elementary School

By Erica Ayers, MPH, CHES
School Health Coordinator
Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

When was the last time you were in a school?  Has it been a few years or even a few decades?  If you visited a school today, like Richard Carroll Elementary School in Bamberg School District One, you might be pleasantly surprised by what you find:  a culture of wellness.

Healthy choices offered to students and staff

Schools have responded to the obesity epidemic by making the healthy choice the easy choice for students and staff during the school day.  For its part, Richard Carroll Elementary has been participating in the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program and the Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness (BCCW) School Wellness Checklist.  For three school years, Richard Carroll Elementary has received training and technical assistance from Erica Ayers, the School Health Coordinator with the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at DHEC, and Ellen Munson, the Program Coordinator at BCCW, to build healthy, sustainable, learning environments.

Karen Threatt, the Food Service Director in Bamberg School District One, has found value in participating in both programs.  “The Alliance for a Healthier Generation has helped us achieve our goals associated with Boeing’s School Wellness Checklist.  The Alliance’s Healthy Schools Program Action Plan made it easier for us to grow our wellness culture,” she said.

 To promote healthy eating, Richard Carroll Elementary took an innovative route by combining lessons learned from its days as a SC Farm to School site with techniques to reduce food waste.  Students started composting foods left over from breakfast and lunch to fertilize their three school gardens where they grow herbs, pumpkins, cabbage, cucumbers, watermelons, and more.  This provides students a unique opportunity to taste foods that they have grown themselves.

Access to equipment supports physical activity

BambergWellnessBallTo promote active living, Richard Carroll Elementary outfitted an Action-Based Learning Lab where all students have access to specialized equipment that integrates physical activities into learning motor skills, spatial ability, coordination, and social interaction.  The school also coordinated a Raiderthon, a fun-run fundraiser where students ran and/or walked laps to raise money for future school wellness initiatives.

To promote staff wellness, an empty classroom was transformed into a yoga BambergWellnessMatsstudio/meditation space.  Staff get together usually once a week after school and use the Smartboard and DVDs to guide them through physically challenging, yet mindfully charged, yoga exercises.

This past school year, Richard Carroll held its first Wellness Week to “Celebrate Being Healthy.” Each day provided fun opportunities for students and staff to eat healthy and be physically active, including Drink Water Day on Monday, Try it (a new vegetable) Tuesday, Recess Rocks Wednesday with new portable play equipment, Bring a Fruit or Vegetable from Home Thursday, and Wellness Walk around campus Friday.

Focus on wellness will continue

These are only examples of what Richard Carroll Elementary is doing to promote health and wellness.  Principal Stacey Walter is very proud of what her staff and students have accomplished and ensures that wellness will remain embedded in the culture of the school by continuing to lead their School Wellness Committee and by participating in the district’s Coordinated School Health Advisory Committee.

DHEC in the News: National HIV Testing Day, Adopt-a-Stream, Murrells Inlet wetlands, Riverside Park

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

The [Minority AIDS Council] will be sponsoring a community forum at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Orangeburg. The program’s topic will be “Shining a Light on HIV/AIDS in the Tri-County.”

A discussion panel will include Shiheda Furse, community manager at HopeHealth, which provides outpatient treatment and care for people with HIV/AIDS living in the tri-county region; MAC member and HIV advocate Pat Kelly and the Rev. Todd A. Brown, pastor of New Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Wilhemina Dixon, a Barnwell County woman whose story of resilience after both her daughter and her granddaughter were diagnosed with AIDS became the subject of a PBS documentary, will also be a panelist.

Brown said he hopes the forum will bring about change, particularly within the African-American community, where HIV/AIDS infection rates are the highest.

Worried about the water in a nearby river? You can do something about it.

Adopt-A-Stream is looking for volunteers to document river conditions monthly and alert regulators of changing water quality or illegal discharges. Volunteers will be trained in classes and given a website to work from.

They will collect visual, chemical, bacteria and macroinvertebrate samples. Macroinvertebrates are creatures without backbones, including bugs, mollusks and crustaceans.

Some new wetlands should soon be taking root in Murrells Inlet.

The blankets of plants, including iris, sedge, spartina, black needlerush, soft-stem rush and yellow water canna, were installed at two sites June 14.

If things go according to plan, the plants will root in the pond soil and spread.

The manmade wetlands, both floating and nonfloating, are an outgrowth of the Murrells Inlet 2020 watershed plan, created to protect the inlet’s fragile marsh and shellfish beds.

  • DHEC is working with North Augusta city officials to dispose of contaminated soil found at Riverside Park.

About a month ago, construction workers came across contaminated soil when they were moving dirt around center field.

“When they started digging they could even smell the fumes from it,” said City Administrator Todd Glover.

The future home of the Augusta GreenJackets used to be what we’ve come to know as an industrial park.

For more health and environmental news, visit Live Healthy SC.

DHEC in the News: South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream program, Reedy Falls, mosquito control grant

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

The SCAAS program, which will mirror the Georgia Adopt-a-Stream (GAAAS) program, 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. Many volunteer organizations in South Carolina have already been using the Georgia program to monitor and record water quality in the streams and rivers around the Palmetto State.

  • The City of Greenville has begun a restoration project on Reedy Falls.

The stream bank restoration project is expected to take a week. Boulders are being placed along the Reedy River bank to help prevent erosion and create a safer slope between the river and sidewalk.

The grant provides funds to purchase additional insecticides and improved spraying equipment as well as to help pay for training in effective mosquito control procedures.

National Lightning Safety Awareness Week

“When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!”

That’s the National Weather Service’s way saying that we must take thunderstorms and the lightning that accompanies them seriously. During this Lightning Safety Awareness Week, which runs June 18-24, take time to learn what to do — and not to do — when thunderstorms threaten.

Lightning ranks among the top storm-related killers in the United States. About two-thirds of lightning-related deaths are associated with outdoor recreational activities. Although lightning injuries and fatalities can occur during any time of the year, deaths caused by lightning are highest during the summer. Generally, July is the month when lightning is most active.

Seek shelter if you’re outside

It is critical to know what to do when thunderstorms head your way. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone outdoor plans or make sure adequate safe shelter is readily available.

When you hear thunder, go inside. You are not safe anywhere outside. Do not seek shelter under trees. Instead, run to a safe building or vehicle when you first hear thunder, see lightning or observe dark, threatening clouds developing overhead. Safe shelters include homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up. Stay inside until 30 minutes after you hear the last clap of thunder.

If you can’t make it inside or in a vehicle, take these precautions:

  • Avoid open fields, the top of a hill or a ridge top.
  • Stay away from tall, isolated trees or other tall objects.
  • If you are camping in an open area, set up camp in a valley, ravine or other low area. Tents do not protect you from lightning.
  • Stay away from water, wet items and metal objects (such as fences and poles). Electricity easily passes through water and metal.

Protect yourself while inside

If you are indoors, be aware that although your home is a safe shelter during a lightning storm, you might still be at risk. About one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors.  When inside:

  • Avoid contact with corded phones, computers, laptops, game systems, washers, dryers or anything connected to an electrical outlet. Lightning can travel through electrical systems.
  • Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls. Lightning also can travel through metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
  • Unplug electrical equipment.

For more information on thunderstorms and lightning safety, visit the following links:

www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/safety-overview.shtml

cdc.gov/disasters/lightning/index.html

 lightning.org/lsa-week/