Here’s a glimpse of what we’ve been up to lately.
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The day is finally upon us, November 4, 2008. Take pride in being an American, a South Carolinian, a Charlestonian, or a(n) [insert city/state here]ian, and exercise your right to VOTE! Not knowing where to VOTE is no excuse… find your voting location here.

Remember, legislation drafted by public officials can make up one part of an equation which could inevitably influence the fate of our waterways. If you haven’t already done so, educate yourself on where each candidate stands with respect to water issues (quality, efficiency, usage, etc.). Waterkeeper Alliance has just published its Blueprint for Clean Water, a series of recommendations offering remedies to past policy decisions and proposing a new way for the federal government to strengthen environmental protection in all areas relating to water.

Send us a pictures of you and your voting experience and we will make sure to put you on the website. Take pride in your right to VOTE and remember, your voice does matter.

Charleston WATERKEEPER depends on citizen involvement to combat the pollution and contamination of our waterways. We want you to feel comfortable and secure in coming to us whenever you see something that’s just not right. Soon enough, we will have a dedicated phone number that will serve as a hotline, giving you the ability to call and report pollution, suspicious activity, or any potential issues that might be harming our waterways. In the meantime, we’ve created an email address waterkeeperhotline@gmail.com for you to use as a way to report any suspicious activities. Your information will be kept completely anonymous unless you indicate otherwise. So go ahead, start flooding waterkeeperhotline@gmail.com with reports of anything you see (or have seen) that might be affecting our water quality, our health, and our future. Remember, take PRIDE, take RESPONSIBILITY, take ACTION!

Charleston Waterkeeper isn’t the only watchdog “looking over the Lowcountry.” The Post and Courier, the oldest newspaper in the south, regularly publishes investigative articles exposing issues facing Charleston and the rest of the Lowcountry. This week, The Post and Courier‘s “Watchdog” section dug deep to publish a series of stories on toxic ash.

According to the reports, “every year, South Carolina’s power plants burn enough coal to fill 10 large football stadiums, leaving behind a stadium-size pile of toxic ash. Every year, our power companies dump roughly 2.3 billion pounds of this tainted ash in landfills and holding ponds, many precariously close to rivers and neighborhoods.”

This toxic ash (which has high concentrations of arsenic, selenium, chromium and other elements known to cause cancer and other health problems) that is disposed of through the aforementioned process eventually makes its way through many layers of soil and into nearby groundwater. One study found “arsenic in groundwater flowing into a nearby pond at a rate of 116,000 gallons per day, roughly equivalent to the volume of eight residential swimming pools.”

The majority of these holding ponds and landfills are located in rural parts of South Carolina (map of locations). Most rural areas depend on groundwater as their main source of water and as a result lie victim to the potential contaminants and pollutants that can enter their groundwater supplies. The threat of contamination by toxic ash leaking from nearby landfills and holding ponds is a huge concern for the many individuals that depend on groundwater as their source of water.

Contamination of groundwater can easily affect nearby surface water. For example, “records from [the Department of Health and Environmental Control] show that arsenic contamination has spread from large ash ponds next to SCE&G’s Canadys Station coal-fired power plant into groundwater a few hundred feet from the Edisto River.”

Charleston Waterkeeper has launched its first membership campaign today. The waterways are the backbone to Charleston’s history, its culture, its economy, its environment, and its livelihood; protecting them is not a question, it is an absolute necessity. By taking pride, by taking responsibility, and by taking action to protect and preserve our waterways, we as a community are taking an active role in assuring that clean and abundant water will be available for generations to come (including our own).

In order to become a sustaining and successful part of the community, Charleston Waterkeeper needs community support. By becoming a member you are committing your support to Charleston Waterkeeper’s mission, its goals, and objectives. Many of you have asked how you can help Charleston Waterkeeper. Today, we are offering you an opportunity: become a member.

Annual membership comes with benefits such as a subscription to members-only newsletters, invitations to events at discounted rates, hands-on opportunities to help Charleston Waterkeeper in, on, and around the waterways, a membership sticker to proudly display wherever you please, and more. Your contribution will help to support initial operational expenses, the eventual purchase of testing and laboratory equipment, and the implementation of upcoming citizen involvement campaigns. Membership levels are shown below:

  • $10 Basic
  • $15 Student
  • $25 Individual
  • $50 Family
  • $100 Waterway Watchdog*
  • $250 Water Warrior*
  • $500 Poseidon’s Posse*

* Membership levels also available for businesses

If you are interested in becoming a member please send an email to charlestonwaterkeeper@gmail.com with MEMBERSHIP as the subject. We will gladly send you a membership form for you to fill out.

In addition to our annual membership campaign, we are providing an opportunity for you all to be a part of something with incredible influence: a FOUNDING MEMBER. Becoming a FOUNDING MEMBER is a way to contribute to Charleston Waterkeeper in a way that will be forever appreciated. Your contribution will truly play an integral role in these early stages of the organization. FOUNDING MEMBERS will be forever honored and recognized throughout the life of Charleston Waterkeeper. Please contact us if you are interested in this opportunity or to get additional information.