Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to lately.
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2020 Press Round Up

January

As new EPA rule redefines protected waterways, some fear Lowcountry impact

https://www.live5news.com/2020/01/26/new-epa-rule-redefines-protected-waterways-some- fear-lowcountry-impacts/

Rollback of federal waterways protections poses risk in SC (mention and photo)

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/rollback-of-federal-waterway-protections-poses-risk- in-sc/article_79ec9d1e-3dff-11ea-9cd1-4b8a657ef6b9.html

James Island residents ask for federal help after concerns over James Island Creek (mention)

https://www.live5news.com/2020/01/22/james-island-residents-ask-federal-help-after- concerns-over-james-island-creek/

Municipalities agree to work together to improve water quality at James Island Creek

https://www.live5news.com/2020/01/30/municipalities-agree-work-together-improve-water- quality-james-island-creek/

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

https://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-cooperation-s-great-but-sc- needs-nurdle-law-to/article_011455a8-3edb-11ea-b450-633221d0cbc7.html

Study shows high levels of chemicals in Charleston’s drinking water; officials disagree

https://abcnews4.com/news/local/study-shows-high-levels-of-chemicals-in-charlestons- drinking-water-officials-disagree

February

Editorial: This needs to be the last chance for Hollywood’s sewer

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/mystery-foam-plastic-beads-wash-up-on-sullivans- island-beach/article_ec8507f4-bc89-11ea-ae7d-6768999ddbcf.html

Editorial: Preserve Charleston Harbor’s environment

https://www.postandcourier.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-preserve-charleston-harbors- environment/article_78496fb6-bfc1-11ea-9295-a7103ca40b7c.html

High bacteria levels found in Lowcountry waterways

https://www.live5news.com/2020/07/06/high-bacteria-levels-found-lowcountry-waterways/

A new plastic wave is coming to our shores

https://www.audubon.org/news/a-new-plastic-wave-coming-our-shores

Gadsden Creek becomes a flashpoint in Charleston discussion on environmental justice

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/gadsden-creek-becomes-a-flashpoint-in-charleston- discussion-on-environmental-justice/article_8a40ece8-c5e9-11ea-b50e-df363e8bef92.html

Local efforts aim to protect Charleston’s waterways

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/local-efforts-aim-to-protect-charlestons-waterways/ article_155246be-c776-11ea-b54f-afca682d64c4.html

Charleston nurdle exporter says it was targeted by environmental groups

https://www.postandcourier.com/business/charleston-nurdle-exporter-says-it-was-targeted- by-environmental-groups/article_66c9d78c-cdcf-11ea-a724-6fb0b86c11c5.html

August

Activist groups push back on Long Savannah project citing wetland development

https://www.live5news.com/2020/08/01/activist-groups-push-back-long-savannah-project- citing-wetland-development/

SC environmental groups say pellet exporter is shirking it’s responsibility for pollution

https://www.postandcourier.com/business/sc-environmental-groups-say-pellet-exporter- shirking-responsibility-for-pollution/article_5376c066-de4e-11ea-8314-ab52440410e6.html

3,100 gallons of diesel fuel leak from broker line at Charleston wastewater plant

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/3-100-gallons-of-diesel-fuel-leak-from-broken-line-at- charleston-wastewater-plant/article_f510f52e-df2d-11ea-8f5a-0312a3ba6f6e.html

Fuel Cleanup at Charleston Water System plan continues; ratepayer won’t bear cost

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/fuel-cleanup-at-charleston-water-system-plant- continues-ratepayers-won-t-bear-cost/article_b01e7398-e08f-11ea-9ba8-1b7927f6e16b.html

Fuel spill clean up nearly complete, likely caused by lightning officials say

https://abcnews4.com/news/local/fuel-spill-clean-up-nearly-complete-likely-caused-by- lightning-officials-say

September

Flooding intensifies Charleston region’s racial and wealth inequities (with quote from Board Member Omar Muhammad)

https://www.postandcourier.com/rising-waters/flooding-intensifies-charleston-regions- racial-and-wealth-inequities/article_7a5f724c-afc6-11ea-b878-2795af874a5b.html

Filthy floods cover Charleston area with poop bacteria, viruses and other dangers (with quote from Board Member Dr. Vijay Vulava)

https://www.postandcourier.com/rising-waters/filthy-floods-cover-charleston-area-with-poop- bacteria-viruses-and-other-dangers

Lowcountry environmental groups team up to demand new septic tank revisions

https://www.live5news.com/2020/09/25/lowcountry-environmental-groups-team-up- demand-new-septic-tank-revisions/

October

Company accused of polluting ocean with plastic has an ally: SC Ports

https://www.thestate.com/news/state/south-carolina/article246064255.html

Judge denied motion to dismiss, new documents unveiled in 2019 plastic pellet spill

https://abcnews4.com/news/local/judge-denies-motion-to-dismiss-new-documents-unveiled-in-2019-plastic-pellet-spill

Rising Waters: Charleston’s floodwaters carry dangerous levels of bacteria, even when it’s sunny

https://www.postandcourier.com/rising-waters/charlestons-floodwaters-carry-dangerous- levels-of-bacteria-even-when-its-sunny/article_1e4536a0-0353-11eb-8304-7fb4057a8d15.html

 

Over the last several weeks, Charleston Waterkeeper has made a deliberate effort to listen, learn, and reflect on the voices in our community demanding equity and justice.

We recognize that racism is intertwined with our culture and society. Communities of color bear an outsized burden of contamination, degradation, pollution, and loss of access not fully acknowledged in clean water advocacy.

Our community’s activism is inspiring. In that same spirit, we ask everyone to stand up, to show up, and to speak up for clean water. Today we ask the same of ourselves to deepen our commitment to justice. Our work will be guided by these principles:

• We acknowledge our implicit biases. We commit to an ongoing examination of our role in the cultural and institutional systems that are not working and force the burden of pollution on communities of color.

• We listen to and seek understanding from those most impacted by pollution. We commit to educating ourselves and making our expertise and program resources more available.

• We speak up by empowering the silenced and uplifting the voices for clean water that were active before us. We commit to advocating for clean water solutions that are equitable.

Moving forward, we will examine our organization and develop specific actions to incorporate these principles into all we do to provide clean, healthy water for our community.

We make this statement now to hold ourselves accountable.

Clean water is a universal right. That right weaves a common thread through cultures all over the world. We share one harbor. It is fed by the daily ebb and flood of the tide through a network of rivers and creeks that touch all parts of our community.

We exist to make sure our shared waters are healthy and protected so everyone has access to and can enjoy and benefit from clean water. In that effort, we will never waiver.

Sincerely,

Staff

Andrew Wunderley
Executive Director/Waterkeeper

Cheryl Carmack
Water Quality Scientist

Abigail Boyer
Creek Watcher Program Manager

Maggie McCabe
Intern

Board of Directors

Kent Griffin
Chair

Alyssondra Campaigne
Vice Chair

Stuart McCluer
Treasurer

Rutledge Baker
Secretary

Walker Brock
Past Chair

Gabriella Andrews
Member

James Cabaniss
Member

Walker Layne
Member

Doug Logan
Member

Omar Muhammad
Member

Andrew Parker
Member

Dr. Vijay Vulava
Member

We count on you!

Today is Giving Tuesday Now a global day to mobilize our community for unity and giving. There’s nothing we like more than standing up for our community and our waterways! But, it gets better!

Paul and Molly Butler of The Butler Family Foundation and Cabcock, LLC will match your gift to Charleston Waterkeeper—dollar for dollar—up to a goal of $5,000.

That means when you give today you can double the value and impact of your gift for clean water.

This is a critical moment for Charleston Waterkeeper. We need to raise $10,000 to ensure we can purchase the necessary supplies to run our water quality testing programs this year. These programs generate important water quality data to:

— Keep you and your family safe while swimming and paddling, and

— Hold local cities and town accountable for cleaning up polluted creeks like James Island Creek and Shem Creek.

You can count on us to keep watch over your waterways, test water quality, and hold polluters accountable. We hope we can count on you! If you’re able, please make a gift today to keep this important work going:

CharlestonWaterkeeper.org/give

As always, thank you for standing up for your waterways! See you on the water soon.

Press Release from American Rivers, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, Friends of the Rappahannock, James River Association, National Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Roanoke River Basin Association, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, and the Southern Environmental Law Center

For Immediate Release: April 29, 2020

Conservation Groups Challenge
EPA’s Gutting of Clean Water Protections in Federal Court

EPA Rule Paves Way for Wetlands and Small Streams Destruction

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Conservation groups today challenged in federal court the administration’s effort to gut clean water protections from wetlands and streams that feed drinking-water sources for 200 million Americans and 32 million people in the South, or seven out of ten Southerners. The legal challenge, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina, opens a major court battle over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ re-definition of what waters are protected under the Clean Water Act that leaves many waterways unprotected as well as the communities and wildlife that rely on them.

The Southern Environmental Law Center filed today’s challenge on behalf of American Rivers, Charleston Waterkeeper, Chattahoochee Riverkeeper, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, Friends of the Rappahannock, James River Association, National Wildlife Federation, North Carolina Coastal Federation, North Carolina Wildlife Federation, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Roanoke River Basin Association and South Carolina Coastal Conservation League.

The lawsuit contends that the agencies’ wholesale stripping of protections was an unlawful departure from decades of bipartisan practice. Among other things, the agencies failed to explain or evaluate the impact of their actions on the nation’s water quality or give Americans a meaningful opportunity to comment on the elimination of scientifically-based protections for streams and wetlands.

The lawsuit contends the rule is contrary to the Clean Water Act’s central aim to protect the integrity of America’s waterways and ignores basic science – a point underlined by EPA’s own Science Advisory Board, which warned that the proposed rule flew in the face of established studies and research.

The challenged rule ignores the intent of the Clean Water Act, which a bipartisan Congress passed in 1972 because state-by-state efforts to clean the nation’s waters failed.

The agencies’ bid to dramatically reduce water protections was met with overwhelming opposition, with the bulk of more than 600,000 comments submitted from across the country opposed to the stripping away the Clean Water Act’s reach.

Comments from the groups who filed in federal court today to protect clean water follow.

“Every family and community across America relies on clean water, but these agencies ignored all that to facilitate unlimited water pollution across the nation,” said Blan Holman, senior attorney and leader of the Clean Water Defense Initiative at the Southern Environmental Law Center which is representing the conservation groups in court. “This unlawful rule puts the water used by hundreds of millions of Americans for drinking, bathing, fishing, and business at risk as well as countless communities that deal with floods and hurricanes. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that pollution dumped upstream flows downstream, but the agencies shut their eyes to science and common sense. That violation of the law is why we’re going to court to protect clean water.”

“The Trump administration’s Dirty Water Rule would reverse 50 years of progress protecting clean water in our country,” said Bob Irvin, president and CEO of American Rivers. “It ignores science and threatens the health and safety of hundreds of millions of people who depend on rivers and streams for clean water. We will continue standing up against this administration’s reckless rollbacks to our clean water safeguards because our nation’s health, security and future depend on it.”

“It’s hard to imagine a worse idea,” said Andrew Wunderley, Charleston waterkeeper. “Aggressive growth is threatening our freshwater wetlands and there are no state or local protections to fall back on in South Carolina. Removing these protections now means more flooding and more pollution–that’s not good for anyone.”

“As surely as water flows downstream, the Dirty Water Rule endangers the waterways where millions of Americans swim, fish, boat, and draw our drinking water,” said John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America. “Revoking Clean Water Act protections for streams and wetlands defies common sense, sound science, and the law.”

“The administration’s new rule completely undermines the core purpose of the Clean Water Act, which is to restore and maintain the integrity of our nation’s waters. It will put the health of communities throughout the country at risk,” said Jennifer Peters, national water programs director at Clean Water Action. “Even kids understand we all live downstream and that small streams and wetlands are vital to overall health of our drinking water sources. Instead of acting like drinking water matters, EPA is prioritizing polluter profits with this illegal and unscientific rule and standing its mission to protect human health and the environment on its head.”

“The Trump administration’s reversal of protections for clean water is reckless and irresponsible. Wetlands, streams and freshwater bays provide important habitat diversity to many imperiled species like the southern bog turtle, Florida manatee, Eastern hellbender, Rio Grande cutthroat trout and more. We are heading to court to fight the administration’s rollback that threatens thousands of streams, wetlands, and bays in the U.S. and the wildlife that call them home,” said Lindsay Dubin, staff attorney, Defenders of Wildlife.

“Clean drinking water, a fishable and swimmable James River, increased river-based tourism and economic development – all of these we owe to the protections of the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA’s rule puts our local waterways at risk and threatens to erode decades of progress to restore the health of the James River,” said Jameson Brunkow, riverkeeper and senior advocacy manager with the James River Association. “We are speaking up to defend protections for critical headwater streams and wetlands, which science shows support downstream water quality and healthy waterways.”

“This rule effectively guts the Clean Water Act by permanently removing protections for approximately half the nation’s streams and wetlands,” said Jim Murphy, director of legal advocacy for the National Wildlife Federation. “It should be shocking, but it isn’t, that the EPA did not examine the impacts of this rule on water quality or public health. The agency has openly admitted it did not do a substantive analysis of which streams and wetlands would lose protections and which pollution permits would be invalidated as a result. We think the courts will agree that federal rules should be based on sound science and that this one is not.”

“The repeal of Clean Water Act protections would put North Carolina’s water resources at risk by removing protections from smaller headwater streams and tributaries, and would undermine our state’s resiliency during flooding events by eliminating protections on millions of acres of wetlands that safeguard our communities,” said Tim Gestwicki, CEO of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation.  “As North Carolina continues to rebuild from the past two years of hurricanes and historic flooding, the rollback repeals are especially egregious. We need restored wetlands, streams, and floodplains, not less protections.

“Wildlife need clean water and hunters and anglers know that without it, there won’t be ducks to hunt or fish to catch,” added Gestwicki. “Folks who love our streams, rivers, and wetlands deserve better, which is why this grievous repeal must be fought in court.”

The agencies have 60 days to respond to the lawsuit.

###

Dear Friends,

I hope you and your family are healthy and adjusting to our new way of life for the time being. All of us here at Charleston Waterkeeper are healthy and doing just fine. Like everyone else, we’re physically separated but we are not socially distant!

The fight for clean water continues and you can always find the latest on: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

These are difficult and uncertain times for all of us, including Charleston Waterkeeper. But, I am optimistic and I am hopeful because we know how to get through this together–by being apart.

Why? I see it every day in the fight for clean water: the dirty and muddy feet at cleanups, the tired shoulders shoveling oyster shells, volunteers testing water quality, locals showing up at city council meetings to speak up, our sticker and t-shirts all around, and all the emails, letters, and calls to your elected leaders to stand up for clean water.

You get it: a lot of individual actions add up to big collective action for clean water. That’s exactly what this moment demands from each of us—individual action. That’s why I know we can get through this together by being apart.

It’s also why the fight for clean water cannot and will not stop. Just last week we filed two federal lawsuits against Frontier Logistics for polluting your harbor and beaches with plastic pellets called nurdles.

You can read about it in the Post and Courier here: postandcourier.com/news/sc-plastic-pellet-mover-faces-federal-lawsuit-over-charleston-area

Frontier had 6 months to clean up its act. It didn’t, so we took action. Polluting your harbor and beaches is not right under any circumstances.

The water ahead is rough and it won’t be easy going. So much of our work is about bringing people together. None of that is possible for the foreseeable future. All of our volunteer events are on hold, fundraising events are canceled, and we cannot be out in the community.

We depend on that money to stay afloat and run the bacteria testing program you rely on to know when and where it’s safe to swim. That program is set to launch in May and we need your help to make sure it can happen on time.

If you’re able, please make a gift today to protect your health and the health of your family: CharlestonWaterkeeper.org/give

The fight for clean water continues! We are here, we are active, and we are fully engaged. We’ll get through this. And soon we will all be together getting muddy and dirty for clean water.

Be healthy, friends. Your rivers, creeks, and harbor need you.

Sincerely,

Andrew J. Wunderley
Your Charleston Waterkeeper

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