For the past year we’ve been working with a number of individuals throughout our community to compile loads of data and information about copper. Sounds fun doesn’t it!? Well, the reason for our quest has been because of a document put out by DHEC showing that 11 of our waterways in Charleston County are contaminated with excessive amounts copper.
Wanting to know where this stuff was coming from, we did some investigating and actually found out that the stuff with which we cover the bottoms of our boats is made with huge amounts of copper. Otherwise known as anti-fouling paint, bottom paint works by “poisoning” the adjacent water to prevent growth. The copper slowly leaches into the water, thus preventing growth, but eventually makes its way to our fishing grounds, shellfish beds, and watery playgrounds having adverse affects on our aquatic ecosystems.
Because we’re heavily rooted in science (and we hesitate to jump on any issue or topic without first having scientific insight into the big picture), we teamed up with a student at the College of Charleston’s Masters of Environmental Studies Program, Andy Lassiter, to test the levels of copper in our waterways. We wanted to see whether there was a correlation between highly concentrated areas of boats and copper contaminated waterways.
What Andy found secured what we expected: more boats (using copper-based bottom paints) equals higher levels of contamination.
We’re in the midst of using this information to formulate a program designed to address copper contamination from bottom paint. Until then, we’re posting Andy’s entire report online (view/download it here: the Charleston Harbor Marina Copper Study) and have uploaded the PowerPoint presentation he gave at the conclusion of his project (see below).
** We want to thank Andy for his hard work this past year and also want to congratulate him for being the soon-to-be recipient of a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies!
For some of our previous blog posts about this issue, see the list below: