Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to lately.

Times are strange and uncertainties remain abundant. But as we enter into these uncharted waters, we at Charleston Waterkeeper remain dedicated to the fight for clean water. We know you do too, so we decided to pull together a shortlist of action items to help us stay the course as a community.

1. Social distancing & staying at home

First and foremost follow the social distancing and stay at home guidelines set by the CDC and our local cities and towns. Things are still changing fast so make sure you’re looking at the latest guidance. This is and remains of the utmost importance. We’ll beat this thing together by staying apart! 

2. Make your yard waterway friendly

Gardening and yard work is a great way to stay active while staying home. But did you know: what you’re doing on your yard can be good or bad for your local waterways? Make sure you’re doing it the right way using the Carolina Yards methods from our friends at Clemson Extension!

3. Be a citizen scientist

Have access to the beach? Or the Harbor shoreline? You can help map nurdle pollution by doing a Nurdle Patrol (instruction video here). So, while you’re out, stop and take a closer look!

4. Be a citizen scientist (again)

If you’re lucky enough to have a backyard dock or view of the water, help out our friends at Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network by reporting dolphin sightings using the Dolphin Count app. It’s fun and super easy!

5. Do a litter cleanup

Out for some exercise? Taking the dog for a walk? Do a solo cleanup around your neighborhood! Take your cleanup to the next level by reporting what you find on the Litter-Free Digital Journal.

6. Report pollution

If you see something, say something. We’re here to help.

7. Support local businesses

They support us, now it’s time to support them. Our friends at Lowcountry Local First have compiled this list to make it easy to do the right thing.

8. Recycle right

Once you finish with your local takeout, make sure to recycle correctly using these guidelines. Rinse your containers and don’t recycle materials that are dirty or greasy like pizza boxes.

9. Support your Charleston Waterkeeper

The fight for clean water hasn’t been canceled and that means we’re still counting on your support. Please consider making a gift here, any amount helps. Or make Amazon pay by using AmazonSmile and choosing Charleston Waterkeeper as your charitable organization (please use the no rush option when checking out).

10. Stay up to date

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to stay in the know about the latest.

This is not a comprehensive list and some items on the list may change as we learn more about this pandemic. What doesn’t change is our passion for clean, healthy water. Thank you for standing with us.

Press Statement from the Southern Environmental Law Center, Charleston Waterkeeper and Coastal Conservation League

For Immediate Release: 3/18/2020

Contact: Mike Mather, SELC Communications; cell/text (434) 333-9464;

Groups file lawsuit against Frontier Logistics over plastic pollution


After submitting the required notices, and without a satisfactory response from Frontier Logistics, SELC has filed a federal lawsuit against the plastic-pellet packager and shipper asserting that the company is responsible for ongoing pollution of the Charleston Harbor and other connected waters.

The suit was filed on behalf of the Charleston Waterkeeper and the Coastal Conservation League. The organizations are pursing federal remedies under the Clean Water Act and the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act for the discharges of plastic pellets into the Cooper River from the company’s operations at Union Pier.

SELC, the Waterkeeper, and the League made the decision to pursue this action because, as the lawsuit lays out, neither Frontier nor any enforcement agency has taken effective steps to end the pollution.

The Waterkeeper has conducted sampling since July of 2019, and has collected more than 14,000 pellets in area waters, with the highest concentrations consistently found closest to the Frontier facility. Large numbers of pellets remain in Charleston waters seven months after Frontier was first identified as the likely source of this pollution. A delay in taking legal action would also mean a delay in ending the pollution.

“We recognize there is considerable and warranted focus on the health crisis in South Carolina and elsewhere,” said Andrew Wunderley, the Charleston Waterkeeper. “At the same time, this unabated pollution of our waterways is a danger to the health of our rivers, marshes and wildlife. We had hoped Frontier Logistics would have taken the appropriate steps to remedy these violations; however, the company continues to deny responsibility. That, unfortunately, has left us no other avenue to pursue.”

The case filed in Charleston Federal Court is Charleston Waterkeeper, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League v. Frontier Logistics L.P.


Welcome to your March 2020 Keeper’s Report from your Charleston Waterkeeper! Things are a bit uncertain with all the coronavirus unknowns right now. But, one thing you don’t have to worry about is who’s keeping an eye on your waterways. We’re here, we’re not going anywhere, and we’re working for clean water today and always.

In this month’s Keeper’s Report, we’re talking eco-fashion, creek watching, taskforcing, and of course, those pesky little plastic pellets called nurdles. Not all in that order, or maybe in that order, you’ll have to read on.

Putting our boots where our mouth is

The 2020 Volunteer Corps season is off to great start with 8 events, 428 volunteers, and 1,046 service hours logged for clean water already this year! Together, we’ve planted cordgrass seedlings for marsh restoration, recycled and bagged oyster shells for new reefs, and cleaned up your marshes and creeks. Volunteers are great!

See for yourself: 

1/18 – West Ashley Marsh and Highway Cleanup
2/8 – Shell Bagging with SCDNR
2/22 – Filbin Creek Cleanup with Filbin Friends
2/27 – Seed Planing with SCDNR

Cleanups don’t plan themselves! Cheryl cuts up for a great eco-fashion who wore it better.

Nurdles rule or nurdle rules?

We’re still finding them everywhere, all the time. And, there still aren’t any rules in place to protect our waterways and beaches from plastic nurdle pollution. That’s bad for fish, it’s bad for birds, and it’s bad for clean water. Thank you to SC Sen. Sandy Senn for trying to get something done and give DHEC the clear authority to regulate nurdle packing and transporting! Unfortunately, the effort is running into some headwinds.

Read more about that in Sen Senn’s weekly update.

Or watch her go to bat for your waterways in the Senate. Scroll down to the Senate video on March 5. The good stuff starts about the 53-minute mark.

Stay tuned. Plastic nurdle pollution won’t stop itself . . .

Sen Sandy Senn in the SC Senate on March 5 going to bat for your waterways! Those nurdles she’s holding? They came from Waterfront Park in downtown Charleston.

Volunteer watches creek, does science

In February we trained up a fresh batch of Creek Watcher citizen-scientist volunteers. What’s a Creek Watcher? What are they watching for? What creeks are they watching? How are they doing it? Why are they doing it? We know you have a lot of questions about this very cool program, so hit the link below!

Learn more:

That’s excellent technique on the ole’ Winkler titration there, Daniel! Way to go, it’s not all that easy!

Up James Island Creek without a paddle?

But not for much longer! A big thank you to City of Charleston Councilwoman Carol Jackson for leading the charge to create the James Island Creek Taskforce. The Taskforce will guide the effort the clean up James Island Creek and make it safe for swimming. It will include members for the City of Charleston, Town of James Island, Charleston County, Charleston Water System, the James Island Public Service District, citizens, and conservation groups. This is a solid step in the right direction for James Island Creek.

James Island Creek is going on a bacteria diet, folks! More to come . . .

The room where it happens. Your City of Charleston City Council camber.

The next few days, weeks, months

We’re not sure what time will bring. But we do know this: the fight for clean, healthy water never stops. That’s why we’ll be here, on the front line standing up for you and your waterways until the job is done. We do this for you because you lift us up and empower action, every day, for clean water. Thank you and stay safe, friends.

The fight for clean water is not canceled . . . 

Get Involved


All the work you see here is empowered by our community and supporters just like you. Join the fight for clean water today:



SC wetlands—prized for habitat and flood buffer—lose protection under Trump water rule


Charleston Waterkeeper testing for fecal bacteria in local waterways

Owens OPED: Eliminating pollution in the Town of Mount Pleasant

Plastic bag bans mean ’strung out war’ in SC Statehouse as new towns pass restrictions


Wunderley OPED: Charleston has an opportunity to lead on balancing growth, environment

Failing septic systems foul SC homes and waterways, but solutions are costly

James Island waterway fails almost all bacteria tests for 5 years


Charleston Waterkeeper calls on SC health officials to rate Shem Creek more polluted

Lowcountry group pushes for DHEC to give Shem Creek stricter fecal bacteria standards

DHEC starts process of stricter fecal bacteria standards in Shem Creek, other saltwaters


SC reviews cleanliness rules for Charleston Harbor’s Shem Creek

No simple solutions for Gadsden Creek

Sullivan’s Island beach is strewn with tiny plastic pellets, and cleanup isn’t likely

Environmental experts concerend after plastic pellets wash up on Sullivan’s Island


Over 7000 gallons of raw sewage spilled form treatment plant into James Island Creek

Investigation: Enforcement and regulation of raw sewage spills

State senator calls for action after 7200 gallons of sewage spills into James Island Creek

Microplastic spill in Charleston Harbor prompts calls for stricter enforcement


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

Local groups suing company over plastic pellets in Charleston waterways

Charleston Waterkeeper keeps finding more plastic pellets in waterway

As plastic pellets wash up on SC beaches, state should do more to stop it, lawyers say


National database ranks Charleston second-worst for plastic pellet pollution

Commentary: Sullivan’s Island fighting different kind of plastic pollution

Charleston utility rescinds help for small SC town’s sewer that contaminated oyster beds

Editorial: Hollywood needs to make sewer deal


All the work you see here is empowered by our community and supporters just like you. Join the fight for clean water today:

Two! And, it’s better than one! That’s why we have two fun ways for you to stand up and show up for clean water this Giving Tuesday:

Our friends at Free Fly make some great gear for on and off water. Today you can take 20% off your purchase with the code WATERKEEPER and Free Fly will donate that 20% to help keep your favorite waterway clean and healthy. Shop today for clean water:

Score some great gear from Free Fly and support clean water at the same time, or you can double up your impact with the Daniel Island Community Foundation.

The foundation will generously match your gift today–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! Help us reach our goal today:

A great big thank you to the good folks at Free Fly and the Daniel Island Community Foundation. We cannot serve as your Waterkeeper without the support of our community.

Thank you for standing with us!

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