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International Day of Action for Rivers: Take Action with SC Adopt-a-Stream

International Day of Action for Rivers celebrated on March 14 is a day to celebrate people coming together around the world to say that rivers matter and take action to promote clean waterways.  

One group that promotes education and action for clean waterways is South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream (SC AAS). SC AAS is a partnership program between South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence (CU CWE). This program inspires individuals to be educated advocates for their local rivers and streams. The goal of the program is to facilitate a network of water quality stewards educated in nonpoint source pollution and connect volunteers to their watersheds. 

The SCAAS program is a citizen science volunteer water quality monitoring program for South Carolina’s freshwater and saltwater streams. Volunteers complete a free training course which allows them to become certified monitors and ‘adopt’ sites to monitor monthly. Volunteers visit their site to collect baseline, non-regulatory, data. Data collection can include habitat, bacterial, physical, chemical and macroinvertebrate assessments.  

The data collected is then uploaded into the SC AAS database which is available to anyone with internet access to learn about water quality. To increase awareness, the database sends automatic alerts to individuals registered to receive alerts of potential pollution concerns, such as illegal dumping or very high E. coli bacteria counts.  

Volunteer data is used for screening purposes, decision making, STEM education, grants, MS4 permit compliance and watershed management plans. This helps communities protect and restore our beautiful waterways. Volunteers, through monthly monitoring, have identified problems such as water and sewer line breaks, sediment runoff and illegal litter dumping.  

Looking forward into 2023, the team hopes to see 150 new sites be adopted, certifications reach more than 3,000 volunteers and the implementation of the new Lakes Monitoring certification type.  

Here at DHEC, we understand the importance of improving the health of the public and environment, and the SC AAS volunteer monitoring program helps us to further that mission. SC AAS trained volunteers have the potential to increase awareness within their own communities of the relationship between watershed management, land use changes and the role and responsibility of each individual within a watershed to be a better steward of South Carolina’s waters. 

On International Day of Action for Rivers we ask that you consider the role you can play in promoting clean waterways. A great way to do this is to sign up as a volunteer with SC AAS! 

For more information on the SC AAS program and to sign up for the newsletter, visit 

DHEC Celebrates Black History: Honoring Two Who Have Made a Difference in Public Health

As we celebrate Black History Month this February, DHEC would like to take this opportunity to honor the past and present achievements of African Americans who have and are making a difference in public health.    

Dr. Linda Bell

Dr. Linda Bell has worked in public health for almost 30 years, including as an Epidemic Intelligence Service (ESI) Officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with the Viral Special Pathogens Branch and as an EIS field officer. She has served in several positions with DHEC, where she is currently the S.C. State Epidemiologist and director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control.   

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Bell was a lead medical advisor in South Carolina, providing science-based guidance to control disease spread. She has been instrumental in highlighting the critical need to address social determinants of health in public health interventions to reduce health disparities.  

Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell

Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell, a family practice physician in Charleston, SC, since 1986, has dedicated much of his life addressing disparities in health care. 

He is founder and CEO of Closing the Gap in Health Care Inc., which seeks to decrease health disparities and increase the health literacy among African Americans and underserved communities throughout the Carolinas. The organization offers health education programs that promote wellness and healthy lifestyles as well as works to increase the number of African American health providers in the state of South Carolina. 

Dr. Bell retired as Associate Dean of Diversity at the Medical University of South Carolina.