About the Watershed
Get to Know the Edisto Island Watershed
The Edisto Island watershed is made up of three smaller sub-watersheds, including Store Creek, the South Edisto River-Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and the Dawho River-North Edisto River. The watershed spans two counties (Charleston County and Colleton County) and includes both Edisto Island and the Town of Edisto Beach. The Edisto Island watershed is part of the larger Edisto River Basin, which is the watershed for the Edisto River - one of the longest free-flowing blackwater rivers in North America.
The lower part of the Edisto River Basin joins with the Ashepoo and Combahee River Basins to create the ACE Basin, an estuary of national significance. Much of the ACE Basin has been preserved and protected through public and private partnerships. The Town of Edisto Beach, a 6-mile-long barrier island made up of approximately 25% salt marsh, is a beachfront community with a small population of full-time residents that experiences a seasonal influx of tourists, and also includes a 1,200-acre state park that hosts both cabins and campsites. Waterways are tidally influenced throughout the entire watershed, and salinity ranges from salty to brackish. Land use across Edisto Island is mostly rural with low-density residential and agricultural land uses predominating.
The Edisto River has a wealth of wildlife and cultural history dating back from the Native Americans who inhabited the area prior to European colonization, to the enslaved Africans who were brought to the Sea Islands in the 1700s and 1800s and forced to labor in the rice, indigo, and sea island cotton industries. Today, the Edisto Island watershed supports a vibrant community with a strong preservation ethic and a desire to protect local waterways. Visiting local beaches, fishing, boating, swimming, kayaking, wildlife viewing, and hunting are popular outdoor activities. More than 75% of residents surveyed said that they eat oysters harvested from local waterways, and 30% said they harvested oysters themselves to eat. Culturally, oysters bring people together; whether at a seafood restaurant or in a friend's backyard, oysters are a delicacy to be shared. Ensuring the health and safety of Edisto's shellfish was a key factor influencing the development of the watershed plan.
Photos by B. Prochaska