Tag Archives: watershed

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.

National Estuaries Week 2016

By Liz Hartje, Coastal Projects Manager, Coastal Services Division

September 17 – 24 is National Estuaries Week. Since 1988, National Estuaries Week has celebrated the many ways we benefit, from healthy, thriving coastal ecosystems.  National Estuaries Week is a terrific opportunity to learn more about estuaries and the perfect excuse to spend time on your favorite creek or river!

Estuarine Systems

Estuaries and their surrounding wetlands are bodies of water usually found where rivers meet the sea. Estuaries are home to unique plant and animal communities that have adapted to brackish water – a mixture of fresh water draining from the land and salty seawater. Estuaries are among the most productive ecosystems in the world. Many animals rely on estuaries for food, places to breed, and migration stopovers (NOAA). Strong currents run through estuaries, bringing nutrients together from upland and the ocean. Incoming ocean currents and tides also bring the larvae and juveniles of many species of recreational and commercial fish and shellfish (SCDNR).

Estuaries are delicate ecosystems. Congress created the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) System to protect estuarine land and water. These estuarine reserves provide essential habitat for wildlife, offer educational opportunities for students, and serve as living laboratories for scientists (NOAA).

national-estuaries-week-nerrs

There are two NERRs located in South Carolina. The North Inlet-Winyah Bay NERR, designated in 1992, protects nearly 20,000 acres and is located in Georgetown County, about 30 miles south of Myrtle Beach and 50 miles north of Charleston. This reserve provides habitat for many threatened and endangered species including sea turtles, sturgeons, least terns and wood storks. The ACE Basin NERR, also designated in 1992, protects nearly 95,000 acres and is located about 45 minutes south of Charleston. This site protects cultural heritages as well as many endangered or threatened species, such as short-nose sturgeon, wood storks, loggerhead sea turtles and bald eagles.

Celebrating Our Estuaries

All throughout the country, local organizations arrange events, like beach clean-ups, hikes, canoe and kayak trips, workshops and more to recognize the special role estuaries play in our everyday lives. You can help celebrate and protect these important ecosystems by volunteering at an event near you or just going out and exploring these dynamic coastal environments.