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In late 2017, Charleston Waterkeeper initiated a project to engage citizens in monitoring their local tidal creeks and rivers. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) offers an Adopt-A-Stream program for inland folks, but nothing for us here on the coast. Charleston Waterkeeper changed that.

Carl Cole getting ready to sample (photo credits: Outpost)

Carl Cole getting ready to sample (photo credits: Outpost)

One year ago, in June 2018, the first group of citizen scientists were trained and certified to monitor our waterways. The first certified sample was taken on July 11, 2018. In honor of this anniversary, we want to take the opportunity to highlight all of the hard work they are doing!

Every month our Creek Watchers go out to their assigned site and collect ambient surface water quality data.  This includes recording visual data as well as physical data: temperature, pH, salinity, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity.

Mike and JoAnne Marcell at Northbridge Park

Mike and JoAnne Marcell at Northbridge Park

JoAnne “I love being a creek watcher because I enjoy being on the water in the sun and breeze while also contributing to the assessment of our water quality as a citizen scientist.”

Mike  “I love being a Creek Watcher because now I know that our marriage can survive the stress and strain of the dissolved oxygen test.”

If there is any litter in sight, they are sure to collect it. One Creek Watcher noticed that her site was too bad to make a difference on her own, so a clean-up was organized that brought out many volunteers who made the site litter-free.

Katherine Freligh at the Public Boat Landing on Virginia Ave

Katherine “I love being a Creek Watcher because we feel like we are contributing to the mission to keep our waterways safe for our community and the animals that live in them. “

Creek Watchers are not only testing the quality of the water, but are also water watchdogs and advocates for cleaner waterways.

Tony tells us “…the interest and support that people we encounter in the field express for what we are doing…They ask questions. They really care about the environment and are glad that there are people like us out there keeping an eye on things.“

Tony Brown recording visual observations When Cris Sumpter is not taking samples, you can often find the two of them at many Volunteer events

Tony Brown recording visual observations. When Cris Sumpter is not out analyzing, one can often find him and Tony at many volunteer events

Tony “I love being a Creek Watcher because I am doing real-time science as part of an organization looking out for the health and well-being of these magical marshlands that make up the cradle of the sea.”

Getting together on Wappo Creek! From left to right: Skip Darley, Cris, Tony, Carl McCoy, Abby Boyer

Getting together on Wappo Creek! From left to right: Skip Darley, Cris, Tony, Carl McCoy, Abby Boyer

Carl M. “I love South Carolina! Having been born and raised here, I want to see beautiful ecosystems continue to provide protection, habitat, and recreation that we all enjoy.”

There are currently 13 certified Creek Watchers, monitoring 11 sites. Over the past year, they have dedicated 260 hours of their time, resulting in 445 samples collected and analyzed.

11 Sites Actively Monitored

To learn more about the Creek Watcher program visit: http://charlestonwaterkeeper.org/what-we-do/programs/creekwatchers/ or email creekwatcher@charlestonwaterkeeper.org.