Tag Archives: water quality

Midlands Rivers Coalition Kicks Off 3rd Year of Water Quality Monitoring

By: Bureau of Water

May 1, 2019, marks the third year the Midlands Rivers Coalition will monitor water quality health in the major rivers of the Midlands of South Carolina. Weekly monitoring will be conducted from May through September and site data will be posted every Thursday on howsmyscriver.org.

The Midlands Rivers Coalition brings together outfitters, recreation providers, environmental organizations, state and local government, academia, industry, property owners, and other users of the rivers. The group was formed in 2016 to educate river users about the water quality of the Broad, Lower Saluda, and Congaree Rivers. These rivers are attractive destinations for public fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, swimming, and wading. Short-term events such as heavy rain or sewer overflows can sometimes negatively affect water quality. Stormwater runoff picks up chemicals, trash, and other pollutants and flows into a storm sewer system or directly into a lake, stream, or river. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged, untreated, into the waterbodies we use for recreating. Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into recreational areas and create health hazards, prompting an advisory to be issued.

Coalition members provide funding to support water quality monitoring and assessment of bacteria levels in the three rivers. If a water quality sample comes back above the state bacteria standard for swimming, a Coalition advisory is issued. Subsequent sampling is conducted the following day and results are reported the next afternoon. Providing current, easily accessible information about water quality health empowers the public to make decisions about when to recreate on the river.

As the Coalition enters its third year of monitoring, it’s celebrating some milestones. In 2018, over 300 water quality samples were collected, an increase of nearly 200 samples from 2017. In the 2019 season, the Coalition will increase information accessibility by placing 21 informational signs in heavy public use locations around the Midlands’ rivers. Most of the signs can be changed to indicate a water quality advisory when elevated bacteria levels are detected. The signs will also feature a Quick Response code that river users can scan for more information.

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The Coalition hopes river-related stakeholders across the state will imitate this initiative as a model to enhance public awareness of the impact of stormwater runoff and commit to informing citizens about water quality health. For more information about the Coalition, and to review water quality conditions, visit howsmyscriver.org.

DHEC in the News: DHEC Public Health Data App, King Tides, septic tanks

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

New DHEC site helps answer public health questions

COLUMBIA (WACH) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is introducing a new, innovative web portal to help answer public health questions.

DHEC’s County Health Profiles allows users to access state and county health data and compare data sets.

Citizen scientists watch for ’king tides’

WASHINGTON — The tide watchers start patrolling whenever the celestial forces align. From coast to coast, hundreds of tide watchers come out with their cameras to record the latest “king tides,” brief episodes of tidal flooding that could become the norm, with expected sea level rise.

King tides are a colloquial term for the highest tides of the year. They occur when the moon is closest to the earth at moments when the sun, moon and Earth are in alignment, increasing the gravitational forces at play.

A decade ago, few had heard of “king tides,” much less waded through them in galoshes. Now, Miami regularly floods. So do Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina, and other U.S. cities. And more than ever, groups of citizens are out there photographing the results, uploading the photos and debating what the future will bring.

DHEC grant will fix septic systems for more than 100 in Loris, Longs

LORIS, SC (WBTW) – A new grant will help Horry County officials improve water quality in parts of the county.

The Horry Soil and Water Conservation District received the grant from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The grant amounts to over $400,000 and, according to project manager Sam Ward, it will go towards fixing or replacing faulty septic systems.

DHEC in the News: Immunizations, North Saluda Water Quality Enhancement

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

Back to School requirements mean your kids may need new immunizations

(Columbia, SC – WIS) Back to school or back to germs?

August is “National Immunization Awareness Month,” according to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control. The goal is to not only remind parents of kids headed back to school about the importance or children getting immunized, but to also remind adults and seniors, too.

Third-grade has been added to the requirement for (2) doses of varicella. A child with a positive history of the disease is considered immune and is exempt from this requirement.

Fifth-grade has been added to the requirement for three (3) doses of oral and/or inactivated polio vaccine with at least one (1) dose received on or after the fourth birthday.

Eleventh-grade has been added to the requirement for (1) Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis) booster. Tdap is routinely administered at 11-12 years of age; however, a dose administered on or after the seventh birthday will meet this requirement.-graders as they head back to school.

North Saluda Water Quality Enhancement Project Underway

(Marrieta, SC – Travelers REst Tribune) The project is part of a cooperative watershed planning effort headed by SOS and funded largely through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Nonpoint Source Program to address sediment in the North Saluda River and Saluda Lake. The plan will provide a targeted and effective strategy for installing projects to help control and minimize sediment runoff to the North Saluda River downstream to Saluda Lake, a drinking water source for the Easley area.

For more health and environmental news, visit our blog regularly.

DHEC in the News: Saluda Watershed, Opioid Crisis, Don Holt Bridge

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

How one group plans to improve water quality in the Saluda Watershed

(Greenville, SC – Greenville Journal) Save Our Saluda, an environmental advocacy group, has received $54,550 from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to create a plan to reduce sediment runoff in the North Saluda River and Saluda Lake, which provide drinking water and recreation for thousands of Upstate residents.

“The plan will be a roadmap for restoration and protection efforts and will help facilitate funding for future implementation projects,” said Melanie Ruhlman, president of Save Our Saluda, in a press release. “I am especially excited about the wonderful partnership of organizations that have agreed to cooperate and help guide the project.”

The group has partnered with 11 stakeholders, including Greenville County, Greenville Water, and Renewable Water Resources, to complete the plan and restore the lake and river, which have experienced high levels of sediment runoff over the years from development and other sources.

The Midlands is getting a lethal dose of this dangerous drug cocktail

(Lexington, SC – WIS) A lethal drug cocktail is setting up camp in South Carolina.

The mystery concoction goes by many names: “China White,” “Tango and Cash,” and “Murder Eight.” It’s a drug we all know: heroin. But now, in epic proportions, dealers are cutting it with synthetic opiates like fentanyl and carfentanil.

Lt. Robby Lint runs the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department’s Narcotics Division.

“It’s everywhere. The increase has come – it’s made it,” Lt. Lint said. “It’s not just nationally you see it in the big cities and all the other big states and all that. It’s everywhere. And it’s here in Lexington County.”

In 2016, there were 44 overdose deaths in Lexington County. So far in 2017, there have been 25 overdose deaths, with the coroner attributing 18 of those to opioid overdoses.

It’s worse in Richland County: in 2016, there were 44 opioid overdose deaths. Through June 2017, the county has already topped the 44 overdose death.

“It’s across the board touching everybody,” Lt. Lint said. “It’s not your typical what we’re used to hearing or seeing drug addict.”

In fact, white males between the ages of 25 to 34 and 34 to 55 are the most likely group to overdose. According to DHEC, males are 40 percent more likely to overdose than women.

Charleston bridge tarp collapse could have released hazardous waste into river

(Charleston, SC – AP) – The collapse of the tarps on Don Holt Bridge has prompted an investigation into possible environmental contamination.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports that the tarps that fell onto Interstate 526 last week were supposed to serve as a containment system to catch any hazardous waste created from the cleaning of lead paint on the structural steel.

The state contract for the work states that the contractor responsible for cleanup must report release of lead into the environment exceeding regulatory limits to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

A DHEC spokesman says the agency hasn’t received reports of material falling into the Cooper River. Eagle Industrial Painting of Ohio received the painting contract.

Department of Transportation spokesman James Law says the final investigation report will include environmental issues.

For more news on health and the environment, visit our blog regularly.

DHEC in the News: Saluda River swim advisory, Mt. Pleasant water, Briarcliffe Acres

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around the state.

Saluda River bacteria levels decrease; advisory still in place
(Columbia, SC – WACH) The amount of bacteria in the Saluda River has decreased, but a swim advisory will remain in place until further notice.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control issued the advisory on Sunday night, a warning that should be taken seriously.

According to Robert Yanity from DHEC, a discharge from a nearby Carolina Water Services treatment plant caused bacteria levels to rise. A test yielded shocking results.

“They’re required to meet that 349 level I believe it is – as far as their E. coli marker and they were over that about 900 or so,” Yanity says.

The levels–980.4–are almost three times to state limit. Because of this, Yanity advises people to take caution before getting into the water.

Community Frustrated Over Swimming Advisory “Deja Vu”

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is warning people not to swim in the water at Saluda Shoals Park after finding high levels of bacteria in that section of the Saluda River.

“We’ve got a lot of people that come out here, fishermen swimmers kayakers, we’re all concerned about the quality of our water,” said fisherman Michael Frank.

Bill Stangler, the Congaree Riverkeeper, says he was frustrated when he got the call about more bacteria polluting the river.

“Here we go again, deja vu,” Stangler said. “It’s really a bad place for this to be happening, I mean we’re standing between a canoe/kayak launch, a boat ramp, and another boat ramp across the river. This is where people come to get in the river.”

DHEC says they found “upset conditions” at the Carolina Water Service’s Friarsgate plant towards the end of last week that could have contributed to the bacteria. They also say there were other factors.

“We did see an abundance of rain, so that could have contributed to the higher levels of bacteria that was coming into the water so we can’t say it was all attributed to CWS,” said Robert Yanity with DHEC.

Yanity advises people not to ingest the water or go in with open wounds.

Water Quality Concerns Surrounding Pesticides and Cancer

(Mt. Pleasant, SC – Moultrie News) Approximately two weeks ago, a group of mothers expressed their concerns on social media regarding the number of young males in a general area of Mount Pleasant (Park West, Dunes West, and Rivertowne) who have been diagnosed with brain tumors. During social media conversations and interviews with media, some raised the question of water being a contributing factor. Following this, some residents purchased at-home water testing kits, and some interpreted their results as positive for pesticides.

After learning about customer concerns, Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) addressed the media and invited customers to join in a conversation regarding MPW’s water quality. On Monday, July 10th, MPW held a community meeting to listen to and discuss concerns with customers. The media was invited to attend and MPW posted full video of this meeting on social media and our website.

Q. Does Mount Pleasant Waterworks test for pesticides?

Yes, both water sources are tested for pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control set testing guidelines and schedules for pesticides. Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ water sources include groundwater from the Middendorf Aquifer and surface water purchased from Charleston Water System (CWS). EPA and SCDHEC utilize historical testing data to determine the scheduling parameters for pesticides in each water source. Due to consistent non-detection in our groundwater source, DHEC tests for pesticides every three years. Due to regulations related to surface water, DHEC tests the purchased surface water on an annual basis.

Their waste polluted the ocean surf 6 years, now it’s costing them to flush the toilet

It’s been six years since property owners in Briarcliffe Acres were first warned their septic tanks were to blame for sporadically high fecal bacteria readings in the Atlantic Ocean surf.

It’s taken a water quality study, construction of a needed sewer system by neighboring Myrtle Beach and a years-long battle by Briarcliffe Acres’ officials to convince those homeowners to pay the steep sewer system fees and get rid of the septic tanks.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has a a long-term swimming advisory posted at Briarcliffe Acres. The warning sign advises against swimming near swashes after heavy rains, when contamination is most likely.

There has been no indication whether state health officials will eliminate the long-term swimming advisory once all property owners are on the sewer system.

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