Edisto Island Watershed Planning Effort

Clemson Extension and partners, including the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium, and the Edisto Island Open Land Trust, are working with the Edisto community to create a Watershed Plan to address pollution in Store Creek, the South Edisto River-Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, and the Dawho River-North Edisto River.

What is a Watershed-Based Plan?

A watershed is the area of land that contributes runoff to a lake, river, stream, wetland, estuary, or bay. If water pollution becomes a problem in a watershed, a watershed plan provides a roadmap for managing efforts to restore water quality in impaired waterbodies, and to protect the overall health of the watershed. Watershed plans help communities to address pollution by identifying pollution sources and recommending voluntary management measures to reduce or eliminate those sources. Once a watershed plan is finalized, local governments and community organizations within the watershed are eligible to apply for funding assistance through sources such as the Clean Water Act Section 319 Non-point Source Management Program. This 319 funding, administered through the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, can be used to install voluntary best management practices on private and public land, produce outreach material, conduct workshops, and other activities identified in the watershed plan.

Click on map to see an enlarged version.

Impaired waterways: A waterbody is impaired if it does not attain the water quality criteria associated with its designated use(s), as defined by SC DHEC. Uses include things like recreation, fishing and harvesting shellfish, navigation, drinking water supply, and agriculture.

Total Maximum Daily Load: A TMDL is the calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant allowed to enter a waterbody so that the waterbody will meet and continue to meet water quality standards for that particular pollutant. When applied to a waterbody, a TMDL determines a pollutant reduction target and allocates load reductions necessary to the source(s) of the pollutant.

Why does Edisto Island need a Watershed Plan?

The waterways on and around Edisto Island are affected by pollution from several sources. There are currently 24 locations in the area that are listed as impaired for either fecal coliform bacteria, enterococcus bacteria, or turbidity. This had led to restrictions on the harvest of shellfish from many local waterways. Creating a community-driven watershed plan for the area is a first step towards reducing pollution and improving water quality for the Edisto community.

Photos courtesy of SCDNR