Keep your eyes on the water.
Streams in South Carolina will go under the watchful eye of trained volunteers as part of a new initiative called the Adopt-a-Stream program. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control unveiled the Adopt-A-Stream initiative on Monday to bolster community efforts in protecting the state’s water system and is based on a similar successful program in Georgia.
Clemson University researchers will train volunteers on how to monitor local streams for bacteria levels, chemical pollutants and the health of vital invertebrate microbes.
DHEC Water Quality Director Heather Preston said the strength of this program lies in creating community around water.
“The goal of this program is really to raise awareness of water quality issues,” Preston said. “Which from a state perspective can then lead to greater protection of out water resources.”
Preston says the Adopt-a-Stream program shows communities where DHEC currently monitors and where there may be gaps so people can see, “if they are interested in a stream that isn’t being monitored.”
According to Preston, not all streams are the same and each one serves a community differently so different standards are needed. Preston said streams in the Upstate get monitored regularly but she expects the program to expand to other parts of the state.
“We have standards for different streams depending on their uses,” said Preston. “If it is a trout stream then it needs different types of parameters,” than a stream that mostly directs runoff or feeds agriculture.
The program already uses 30 Georgia-based groups to monitor streams in South Carolina but DHEC intends to train anyone and everyone who comes forward as a volunteer. Preston says there is not limit on the number of monitors they can utilize and there are more than enough streams that need a watchful eye.