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Water Ball 2012 Highlights from Charleston Waterkeeper on Vimeo.

Two weeks ago, the Charleston community came together to celebrate its fundamental right to clean water.  We are happy to report that Charleston Waterkeeper’s Third Annual Water Ball was our biggest, most successful event yet!

Water Ball 2012 had an estimated record attendance of over 400 people!  (Even an ominous thunderstorm couldn’t keep people away from enjoying their evening dedicated to clean water.)  The evening began under the tents on the riverside terrace as guests were greeted by a glass of LaBubbly champagne accompanied by a classical trio’s performance of Handel’s Water Music.  At 8PM guests entered the aquarium to enjoy food from local restaurants and drinks courtesy of New Belgium Brewing, Palmetto Distributing, and ICEBOX Bartending Services.

Thanks to the incredible support from our sponsors, attendees, volunteers, and friends, Water Ball 2012 raised over $15,000 for Charleston Waterkeeper this year!  These funds will go directly to support our permit watchdog program and our water quality monitoring program.  The goal with both initiatives is to gather baseline data that will allow us to identify water pollution issues and work towards pragmatic solutions.

The Water Machine returned to the Water Ball in a never before seen way.  Representing the need for us all to come together as a community to promote and maintain clean water, guests bought light bulbs throughout the night and showed our collective support of clean water.  Water Machine 3.0 raised $3,900 at Water Ball 2012 , and with the generous support of the Bishop Family Foundation in matching every light bulb bought, we raised in total $7,800 to support the permit watchdog program and our water quality monitoring program!


Our dedication to 100% waste diversion throughout the evening was also a resounding success.  Between the collective efforts of our vendors, guests, volunteers, and staff, Water Ball 2012 produced only one bag of trash, and we were able to divert 280 pounds of recyclable material from the landfill.

We’ve received an overwhelming level of praise from attendees, vendors, sponsors, and local media – with press features ranging from Charleston Magazine to Charleston Art Mag; fashionable Water Ball attendees were even featured in Ayoka Lucas’s Style Snaps.

The Twitpic team was on hand to guarantee that all those in attendance had a chance to channel their inner Waterkeeper in this year’s Twitpic photo booth.  For a full album of all photo booth images, click the photo below.

In addition, Jason A. Zwiker was on scene to capture the evening’s success…

 

And finally, this year’s event would not have been possible without the amazing group of sponsors, vendors, friends, and volunteers who came together to support the protection of Charleston’s waterways. Check out our full list of supporters here:

We are looking forward to another successful year and cannot wait to see you at Water Ball 2013.

This past Tuesday the Post and Courier ran an article titled “Cooper River in Charleston Among Worst for Carcinogens.”  The article states that more than 45,000 pounds of cancer-causing chemicals were released into the Cooper River in 2010 by local industrial facilities.  That 45,000 pounds made the Cooper River the sixth worst in the nation for such discharges.  It’s a striking headline that drastically underscores the need for Charleston Waterkeeper’s audit of all permitted dischargers in the Charleston Harbor Estuary–work we’ve been doing for the past year.

The article and report on which it’s based rely on data from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory.  The TRI was created as a public right-to-know program in the wake of the Bhopal, India disaster.  The Inventory requires industrial facilities that use certain toxic chemicals to report a yearly estimate of releases to the air, land, and water.  Release is defined broadly to include everything from accidental spills, to permitted discharges of treated wastewater, to transfers of toxic chemicals for proper off site disposal.  The self-reported release estimates are compiled into the Inventory and published to the public by the EPA.

The 2010 Inventory data is the most recent data available and for the first time notes the waterways receiving the release.  In the report Wasting our Waterways 2012 Environment America and Frontier Group looked at the Inventory data by receiving waters and cross referenced the type of chemicals released with California’s list of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity.  They then ranked the waterways by total amount of cancer-causing chemicals received.  The Cooper River ranked sixth.

Inventory data is useful because it shows what type of chemicals were released and where.  But Inventory data also has limitations–it cannot determine the human health risk associated with exposure.  That type of determination requires an environmental exposure assessment, a much more complicated and in-depth study.  Inventory data also does not indicate whether the reported releases were in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

The fact is some or all of these releases may have been lawful.  In 1972 the federal Clean Water Act set the goal of eliminating the discharge of all pollutants to our nation’s waterways by 1987.  To reach that goal the CWA created a system of permitting point source discharges called the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.  Although, the nation has fallen woefully short of this goal, it’s a goal we strive for at Charleston Waterkeeper.

The first step in ensuring 100% compliance with the laws on the books. Taking the first step requires knowing whether or not any of the releases violated the Clean Water Act.  That’s the critical question the Inventory data cannot answer.  But it’s exactly the question our point source discharge audit was designed to answer.

Several months ago we began by identifying all the permitted dischargers in our watershed.  There are approximately 113 permits authorizing the discharge of pollutants into our waterways. The permit holders generally fall into two categories: industrial facilities and sewage treatment plants.  Each has its own set of issues and their permits limit pollutants unique to their treatment processes.

We are currently developing compliance histories for each discharger, and class of dischargers, and are working to identify and document the issues impacting our right to fishable, swimmable, drinkable water.  Our data and research serves as our foundation as we develop solutions and address the issues we’ve documented.  What’s more, it also supports our role as a watchdog over permit holders and DHEC.  We do this work because each of us has a right to fish, swim, and enjoy our waterways without fear of pollution.

On Friday, February 3rd, Champagne (v). for a Cause and Charleston Waterkeeper will be teaming up to host Champagne (v.) – for Charleston Waterkeeper.  We will be at FISH Restaurant, located at 442 King Street.  After a short hiatus in New York City, the Champagne (v.) – for a cause team is back in Charleston help us protect our local waterways!

Champagne (v) – for a cause presents 3 ways to make a difference.  Proceeds from select cocktails which are featured in the below video will go to Charleston Waterkeeper. Make sure to get these cocktails to take advantage of the deal: Ginger Fizz, French 442, and Le Champagne Cocktail perfected by professional mixologist, Evan Powell.

You can join us for dinner from 5:00pm-10:00pm, and then for drinks from 10:00pm-2:00pm with DJ Cilo.  Can’t wait to see you there!

Video not working above? Check it out here.

With guidance from Charleston Waterkeeper supporters and fly fishing experts, Sandie and Archer Bishop, participants of the November 18th fly fishing workshop on Dewees Island practice their casting skills.

On November 18th, to launch a partnership between Charleston Waterkeeper and the Dewees Island Conservancy, the two organizations hosted a fly fishing workshop on Dewees Island for island residents and guests.  The Dewees Island Conservancy, whose mission is to preserve and protect the natural environment on Dewees Island, will serve as a community partner for Charleston Waterkeeper’s water quality monitoring program, providing local water quality data to our growing pool of information.

All those in attendance had a great time (especially us!), and we were excited to share the story of Waterkeeper with such a passionate group of individuals. The day’s message was simple: enjoyment of our waterways comes hand-in-hand with stewardship of our waterways.

For photos and more details from the event, head on over to Judy Fairchild’s Dewees Island blog where she posted an awesome article about the day.

Noelle London sits in DHEC’s offices after setting up a temporary Charleston Waterkeeper control center during the organization’s permit review process (complete with dualing computers, a portable scanner, and permits from industrial polluters).

Charleston Waterkeeper has recently undertaken the ambitious goal of reviewing every industrial polluter throughout the Lowcountry. How many polluters are we talking?  Well, just in the immediate Charleston Harbor watershed, there are over 200 permitted polluters.  To review each of these permits is undoubtedly a large goal – but a necessary one.  With the help of our policy intern, Noelle London, we’ve begun the process and are well underway.  Through it all, we hope to discover which polluters are in compliance with the law and which polluters are violating the Clean Water Act – the very law that protects our right to clean water.

Noelle and Cyrus spent the day reviewing discharge records and will be compiling their findings along the way.

Posted via email from Charleston Waterkeeper’s posterous