All posts by Charleston Waterkeeper


We caught up with the founders of the inaugural Carolina Surf Film Festival, Bo Edmunds, Chad Davis & Chuck Gainey, to chat about their upcoming event, clean water and Charleston’s thriving surf scene.

Tell us a little bit about Carolina Surf Film Festival and why you chose Charleston for the inaugural event. 

Boasting over 600 miles of shoreline, the Carolina coast has long been a favored haunt of pirates, surfers, and dreamers. Situated near the center of this storied stretch of sand, Charleston, South Carolina is known for her colorful history, natural beauty, and thriving surf culture. We are pleased to announce Charleston as the home of the Carolina Surf Film Festival.

The opening night of the festival will include a short film, a feature film, and a dinner party to honor the filmmakers, patrons, and sponsors.  The remaining two nights will include live music, a full bar (featuring locally crafted beer by Westbrook Brewing Company), a food truck rodeo, vendor booths, an artist’s corner (with a live painting performance by celebrated artist Chris Kemp) and, of course, surf and water sports themed movies. Our distinguished panel of judges will screen the movies and award honors to winning entrants.  The Brickhouse Kitchen & Party Plantation on James Island is graciously hosting all three nights of the festival; October 16-18, 2014.

What is your connection to Charleston’s waterways? 

We’re happiest when we’re on the water.   Boating, fishing, paddling, surfing, we do whatever we can to be on or near it as much as we can.  We started the festival as a way to celebrate and thank the surfing community, and to increase public awareness of two non profits we greatly admire:  Charleston Waterkeeper and Surfer’s Healing.  By providing a forum at the festival and in our marketing campaign, we hope that both may reach a larger number of people.   Regarding Charleston Waterkeeper’s mission, we are keenly aware that in addition to reaching like minded people, i.e. water people, we also need to find a way to reach those who don’t spend as much time on the water.   The real challenge is getting the rest of the population to understand that water quality doesn’t just affect surfers and water sports enthusiasts.  Though the festival will draw mostly water people, we hope to create enough buzz around the event to reach those who may not be interested in surfing per se, but who love good food, music, art, etc.

Why is clean water important to the sport of surfing? 

It isn’t just important, it’s vital.  At its core, surfing is pure.  The act of riding a wave is clean and simple.  It takes you to a higher place.  By the way, few surfers have ever been able to describe the feelings riding a wave inspires;  I’ll spare you any further attempt and get to the heart of the matter:  Dirty water stinks!  It goes against the grain of what we stand for as surfers.  Clean water is important to surfing because dirty water is unacceptable.  My partners and I have a unique opportunity to do our part via the film festival.  As surfers and humans we feel a deep responsibility and obligation to insure clean water for future generations.

Visit to find out more information and purchase tickets to the 3 day event happening October 16th, 17th & 18th!

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Although water is one of the most vital resources on the planet, waterways continue to decline in quality and quantity in virtually every part of the world. Earth is home to one billion cubic kilometers of water, yet only 2.5 percent is fresh water. Of that, less than one percent is clean and accessible, leaving more than one billion people living without safe drinking water.

SweetWater Brewing Company realizes the importance of protecting these vital water sources and has once again teamed up with the Waterkeeper® Alliance, and Charleston Waterkeeper – a local non-profit working to protect the community’s right to clean water – for their Save Our Water campaign, supporting the conservation of the Southeast’s most threatened rivers, streams and coastlines. The cause is near and dear to the brewery as clean water is also vital to the creation of their tasty brews.

Kicking off July 4 and running through Labor Day, SweetWater’s Save Our Water campaign encourages patrons to “give of your liver to save the river” by enjoying SweetWater’s seasonal Waterkeeper® Hefeweizen ale, purchasing campaign t-shirts, and making paper fish donations at participating restaurants, bars and retail accounts where the beer is sold across the Southeast. Locally, patrons can find the ale at Triangle Char + Bar, Bohemian Bull, Crafty Draught, Sesame Burgers & Brew, Closed for Business, Molly Darcy’s, Taps Brew, Obrion’s Irish Pub, Smoky Oak Taproom and Bay Street Bier Garten. Additionally, supporters can visit to donate online, or purchase co-branded merchandise.

In 2011 SweetWater launched Waterkeeper® Hefeweizen, a beer with a cause, helping to spread the campaign’s crusade right on the beer label. Now, as part of their seasonal Catch & Release line-up, the unfiltered brew made its return to shelves and draft taps earlier this June.

SweetWater founded the Save Our Water program in 2006 with its local Chattahoochee Riverkeeper in Atlanta, and efforts grew larger as the brewery did. Since the inception of the program eight years ago, SweetWater has raised more than $700,000 for the cause, with a whopping $150,000 raised in 2013 alone. Today, the Save Our Water campaign supports more than 35 Waterkeeper® members in Southeastern cities where the brewery distributes beer including Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana and Virginia.

“Waterkeeper Alliance is excited to partner with SweetWater for the Save Our Water campaign,” said Pete Nichols, National Director of the Waterkeeper Alliance. “It’s always refreshing to see the business community step up in the protection of clean water and we’re grateful for their support.”

For more information on the Save Our Water campaign, upcoming events or to donate online, visit

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Director of Charleston Artist Collective, Allison Williamson

So much of what I love most about growing up and living in Charleston revolves around our waterways. My family spends as much time as we can exploring Charleston’s creeks and rivers by boat. We spend many summer afternoons jumping off docks on the backside of Sullivan’s island, fishing and crabbing around Dewees and Capers, and surfing on the Isle of Palms. We frequent the shrimp docks at Shem Creek to indulge in the local catch. For the past two years, we have spent my children’s birth parties Seining at the beach.  As we pull in the nets, we all marvel at what sea life we have pulled in only to quickly return it to the ocean. Oysters Roasts in the Fall are just part of our culture. Without question our water quality is vital to our lifestyle.

The Charleston Artist Collective members derive a lot of their inspiration from the beauty of our waterways for their paintings. Many of them gather each week to paint En Plein Air at different locations. They capture many local spots that make Charleston so alluring.

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We chose to support the Charleston Waterkeeper through our June and July sales because preserving our water quality is crucial to continue the enjoyment of the Lowcountry’s best asset. The Charleston Artist Collective was created to showcase local artists while supporting local area non-profits through a portion of our sales. We have raised close to $60k for charities since our launch in 2010. We believe giving back what we can helps Charleston continue to be such an amazing place to live. We appreciate the work of  Charleston Waterkeeper.

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Visit to purchase one of the works featured above and view the rest of the ‘Salt + Tide’ collection. 15% of total sales through July 31st will benefit Charleston Waterkeeper’s data-driven programs.


John and Caroline Irwin enjoy a day on Charleston’s waterways (Photo by Jason Stemple)

Some folks may think of Charleston Angler as merely a store, but I like to look at our local tackle shops as a community. True for so many industries in our town, visiting fishing enthusiasts are just as important to our angling community as the locals. Which is why Charleston Waterkeeper’s Junior Council found it important to raise awareness of the organization’s mission to the customers of Charleston Angler.

On Saturday, June 7th, we hosted the first ever “Charleston Waterkeeper Day” at Charleston Angler’s Mount Pleasant store. We were able to connect with Charleston’s passionate angling community by sharing information about Charleston Waterkeeper’s mission, including results from our Water Quality Monitoring Program and details about our Mobile Pumpout Program. We were able to connect with many new supporters who already share Charleston Waterkeeper’s vision to keep our waters safe, clean, swimmable, and, of course, fishable! In addition, the Charleston Angler donated a portion of the day’s merchandise sales to the organization! All in all, it was great progress to help sustain our mission to not only advocate for Charleston’s waterways but to educate about the ways to care for it.

My name is Caroline, and to be a member of Charleston Waterkeeper’s Junior Council means a lot to me. It means the sky is the limit! No idea is too big when it comes to helping keep our waterways clean and safe. My family has put on fishing tournaments for the past four decades, and we are planning to continue as a means to raise money for conservation. As users of these waters, we bear a great level of responsibility to serve as stewards of this natural resource. I also happen to be married to a fishing guide in town, John Irwin of Fly Right Charters–lending much of our personal quality time to be spent on the water. For us, it’s a matter of our occupations and our avocations! I think we can relate to a lot of you in that respect.

Therefore, go out and love the water. It is yours to enjoy and yours to safeguard.

Lastly, a special thanks to Caroline Rhodes and the entire staff of the Charleston Angler for hosting us earlier this month!

Best Fishes,
Caroline Smith Irwin
Founding Member of Charleston Waterkeeper’s Junior Council