A while back, we posted a guest blog post about the Upper Inlet Creek Project written by Jillian Phillips. The project is a collaboration between Charleston Waterkeeper, Mount Pleasant Waterworks, the College of Charleston’s Masters of Environmental Studies Program, and Town of Mount Pleasant. View photo albums from the project’s sample runs here: March, April, May, June, July, August). Jill is a graduate student in MES Program and laboratory analyst at Mount Pleasant Waterworks. Here’s the latest update on the project from Jill:
The Upper Inlet Creek Project is well underway and we’re about halfway through our sampling. Generally speaking, fecal coliform test results show an increase in bacteria density after rain events, however enterococci results have been consistently low. We’ve also been running an optical brightener analysis as a proxy for the presence or absence of human bacteria contamination. So far these results show low concentrations of optical brighteners at all sampling locations. These are important considerations moving forward because they suggest stormwater as a possible source of bacteria contamination in Upper Inlet Creek.
During sampling events we’ve observed a variety of wildlife including egrets, herons, pelicans, and dolphins. Based on these observations we’ve decided to calculate a maximum daily load of fecal bacteria to Upper Inlet Creek. The loading estimate will be calculated using the volume of water present in Upper Inlet Creek and the average fecal matter bacteria densities of different types of wildlife (warm-blooded and cold-blooded). This analysis will help provide insight into what bacteria results we should expect versus what we actually observed. This work will help refine our assumptions about the possible sources of impairment.
On each trip to Upper Inlet Creek we’ve also observed a variety of recreational activity including boating, fishing, and kayaking. The the importance Upper Inlet Creek’s water quality is evident from its frequent use by humans and wildlife. We’re looking forward to completing the data collection portion of the project and moving forward to the data analysis phase. We hope to suggest some possible remediation strategies to reduce fecal bacteria loadings to Upper Inlet Creek.
A big thanks to Jill for the update! Charleston Waterkeeper is proud to be a part of this collaboration and is looking forward to seeing the project come to fruition. In the meantime, stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook accounts for updates.