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Saturday September 20 marked the 26th annual Beach Sweep/River Sweep. The Beach Sweep/River Sweep is an annual marine debris cleanup event organized by South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. The event takes place across the state of South Carolina on the third Saturday in September, and individual cleanup sites are selected and captained by volunteers. Volunteers spend three hours collecting aquatic debris and keep a tally of items find. The data is compiled at the end of the cleanup event to quantify and characterize marine debris impacting South Carolina’s waterways.

Charleston Waterkeeper’s team regularly picks up debris during our weekly sample runs for the Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program. As such, we wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to help with an intense cleanup near sites we visit on a weekly basis. For this reason we chose to volunteer on Shem Creek, home to 3 of our 15 sample sites. Members of the Charleston Waterkeeper team joined site captain Brett Champion from the Town of Mount Pleasant and other generous volunteers to assist in collecting over 30 bags of trash from Shem Creek!

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Here are two recounts of the event:

Sam Lawson-Johnston (Charleston Waterkeeper Club President)

I chose to volunteer because my family has a close connection to the water, especially in Charleston. I have known how to cast a fly rod since I was about 9 or 10 years old. The amount of trash I saw was eye opening, but not completely surprising. Though Shem Creek does have a lot of adjacent business, that is no excuse. I found a lot of plastic water bottles and what appeared to be PVC pipe, but everything I picked up was pretty consistent with what I expected.

Cheryl Carmack (Staff Scientist)

I chose to volunteer because I always enjoy the experience of participating in cleanup events – they are a great way to meet environmentally conscious people and to reconnect with the water. Cleanup events are also a good reminder of the importance of stewardship and the large impact that can be made in a small amount of time. The most common items I found, as in most cleanups, were styrofoam pieces and cigarette butts. These items were so abundant it was difficult to keep track! The strangest items I found were a shotgun shell and a bike lock. I was glad I volunteered because it served as a reminder to strive harder in finding alternatives to styrofoam.

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.