Nurdles, legislators, and dirty hands

Welcome to your first 2020 Keeper’s Report from your Charleston Waterkeeper! If we were witty there’d be a good joke here about our visual acuity, but we’re focused (oops, sorry) on clean water! This month we weave together stories about plastic nurdle pollution, your South Carolina legislators, and why we always have dirty hands.

After the holiday season, it’s the legislative season!

The 2020 legislative session kicked off earlier this month at the Statehouse in Columbia. We’re tracking bills that deal with taking away the right of local communities to enact single-use plastic pollution bans (the ban on bans), giving DHEC clear authority to control plastic nurdle pollution, and setting a hard limit on the amount perfluorinated chemicals in your drinking water. Get educated:

Bad Idea: The ban on single-use plastic pollution bans 

Good Idea 1: Controlling plastic nurdle pollution (Thank you, Sen. Sandy Senn)

Good Idea 2: Clean Drinking Water (Thank you, Rep. JA Moore)

Stay tuned, we’re going to need your help as things get moving . . .

Your Waterkeeper briefing your SC Senators on plastic pollution. Picture via Sen. Thomas McElvenn @ThomasMcElveen

Nurdles, nurdles, nurdles everywhere

In the 6 months since the July nurdle spill that washed up on Sullivan’s Island, we’ve conducted more than 100 pellet surveys. We find nurdles every time we look and almost everywhere we look. We’ve found them 14 miles north of the harbor on Capers Island, 30 miles south on Edisto Beach, 23 miles up the Cooper River near Moncks Corner, and everywhere in-between. But, the highest densities are always in the harbor right near the Frontier Logistics packaging facility.

This series of articles and editorials from the Post and Courier is a good primer on the issue:

Editorial: Hold Sullivan’s Island plastic nurdle polluter responsible

Editorial: Influx of exporters means SC needs nurdle regulations

Plastic pellets still in Charleston waters months after beach spill, environmentalists say

Charleston has worst plastic pellet pollution found to date on East Coast, researcher says

Editorial: Cooperation’s great, but SC needs nurdle law to protect coast, marine life

More to come . . .

Nurdles collected on Sullivan’s Island on November 22, 2019. Picture and sample by Abby Boyer @abb.stractt

Wetlands and bulldozers don’t mix

A few days back, the EPA kicked off an effort to gut the only protections we have for many local wetlands, especially those that don’t touch larger rivers and creeks. The bottom line is this will make it easier to fill and destroy the local wetlands that protect our water quality and protect us from flooding. Any way you slice that, it’s a step backward and it’s a bad idea.

More from ABC News 4: As new EPA rule redefines protected waterways, some fear Lowcountry impacts

And, don’t miss this excellent interview with Blan Holman Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center on NPR’s The Takeaway (last piece on the list). It’s very much worth your time.

We’ll fight this one as hard as we can with our local and regional conservation partners.

Dirty hands and wet feet. We like clean water!

Dirty hands, happy volunteers 

The 2020 Volunteer Corps season is in full swing with the cool weather! On January 18 we teamed up with Keep Charleston Beautiful to clean up the marsh around Northbridge Park. 50 volunteers removed 825 pounds of debris including some really weird marsh finds. Find out how weird over on our Facebook page and then sign up for some fun at an upcoming Volunteer Corps event below.

Let’s get muddy:

Friday 1/31 – Oyster shell sorting with DNR

Saturday 2/1 – Francis Marion National Forest Cleanup

Saturday 2/8 – Oyster shell bagging with DNR

Saturday 2/22- Filbin Creek cleanup

Thursday 2/27 – Spartina seed planing with DNR

Saturday 2/29 – Hendricks Park cleanup

Saturday 3/14 – Ashley River cleanup

Saturday 3/21 – Oyster shell bagging with DNR

Saturday 4/4 – Oyster reef construction with DNR

Full event details, descriptions, and signups over on our Volunteer Corps job list.

Good beer needs clean water too! 

Let’s grab a beer for clean water with our friends at Commonhouse Aleworks! Your Charleston Waterkeeper team will be on-hand and up-to-date on all that’s happening in and around your waterways. It’s alway a fund time!

Until next time, see you on (or maybe in) the water . . .