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

Last week the Waterkeeper Alliance Board of Directors approved Charleston Waterkeeper as the newest member of the Waterkeeper Family. Two other programs, the Choptank Riverkeeper in Maryland and the Loreto Baykeeper in Baja California Sur, Mexico were also approved. These new members bring the Waterkeeper Alliance total to 182 programs around the world.

We at Charleston Waterkeeper want to congratulate the other programs as we know first hand the hard work that has gone into the establishment of their organizations. The conversations I’ve had with individuals throughout the community have provided me with the advice, guidance, insight, and support needed to get this far. I want to thank everyone for all of their help over the past few months in making this program a reality…now, the fun (and work) really starts!

It’s OFFICIAL, there is a Charleston Waterkeeper!

I’ve come across two great articles detailing the problems we are facing in today’s ever-changing (and growing) world as water’s demand and in turn, its waste, is increasing rapidly. Both articles reveal an urgency to give attention to the issues surrounding our water supplies and how we use this delicate resource.

Scientific American explains in its article, “Facing the Freshwater Crisis,” that as populations increase, the demand for water is also increasing. This obvious relationship is often overlooked as we can take for granted the convenience of clean water for the use of “drinking, hygiene, sanitation, food production and industry.” However, unless governments (local, federal, and global) begin to shape policy around water conservation and water usage we could face devastating water shortages all over the world.

In a similar article, “Tossed Food Is Also Lost Water,” posted on the New York Times Dot Earth Blog, water is explained to be wasted indirectly throughout the world as food is wasted carelessly. “The amounts of waste are staggering. In the United States, nearly one-third of the food that is produced each year, worth about $48 billion, is discarded. The water it took to grow and process that wasted food amounts to about 10 trillion gallons, according to the analysis. Many European countries have similar losses, proportional to their size.”

Bo Petersen, reporter for the Post and Courier, has just written a great piece on the proposed Charleston Waterkeeper program, “Watching over the waters.” The article was published in Sunday’s paper (8/31/2008) on the front page of the “Local and State” section (B). Both Dean Naujoks, former Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, and Nancy Vinson, Program Director at Coastal Conservation League, offered great quotes in support of the endeavor. Thanks to everyone involved. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend.

Dean Naujoks, former Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, has just completed the site visit for the proposed Charleston Waterkeeper program. After 7 years as the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper (in Raleigh, NC), Dean has taken a position as the Waterkeeper Alliance’s southeastern representative.

The site visit is an essential part of the application process as it gives a Waterkeeper Alliance representative exposure to a proposed program. Despite flooding streets and torrential downpours, Friday’s site visit went off without a hitch. The massive amount of rain served as a blessing in disguise as it provided an opportunity to show Dean the incredible amount of flooding that occurs in downtown Charleston. We were able to see water gushing out of storm drains, resembling some of the fountains seen around the area. This serves as an obvious problem as all of the water backing up into our streets during heavy rains and high tides eventually drains into our rivers and harbor, carrying along with it anything that was in its way (gasoline, motor oil, chemicals, particulate matter, etc.). The EPA suggests that stormwater runoff is one of the primary causes of a degradation in water quality around the nation.

After a brief, but wet, tour of the peninsula and surrounding waterways Dean and I made a brief presentation at the county library. All those in attendance were able to hear Dean speak of his experiences as a Riverkeeper. There was a great amount of interest from those present at the meeting and I thank every one of you who came out to support.

I have finally submitted to the Waterkeeper Alliance, a final version of the proposal for a Charleston Waterkeeper. After months of revisions and improvements, the proposal has been sent off for review by the Waterkeeper Alliance’s Board of Directors. On September 14, 2008 the Board will meet to review all proposed programs. Each proposed program must meet all quality standards set forth by the Waterkeeper Alliance in order to become a member.

Until then, there is a scheduled site visit on Friday, August 22, by Waterkeeper Alliance board member, Dean Naujoks. Former Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, Dean will be visiting Charleston as the Alliance’s southeastern representative. He will be coming to evaluate our waterways, potential threats, need for a Waterkeeper, and all other aspects concerning this proposed program. This will be an essential part of the application process since this site visit will offer much insight into the necessity of establishing a Charleston Waterkeeper here in our community.