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New Research Project Underway: Determining bacteria and turbidity sources to inform management and outreach across the Edisto Island Watershed

Researchers from Clemson University and the University of South Carolina Beaufort, led by Dr. Amy Scaroni (Clemson), received a grant from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium in May 2024 to continue their efforts to study water quality across the Edisto Island watershed. Two of the key recommendations of the Edisto Island Watershed Plan were to :

To address these recommendations, the research team will be collecting water samples from across the watershed on a monthly basis, beginning in June 2024 and ending in May 2025. Water samples will be used to conduct a microbial source tracking analysis, which is a special technique to extract DNA from bacteria found in water and determine whether the source of the bacteria is human, dog, bird, or ruminant (cow/deer).  This will help to determine where septic systems are causing bacteria issues, and where other sources are contributing to the problem. Water samples will also be tested to measure the amount of total suspended solids and Chlorphyll a (a proxy for nutrients) they contain. This will help to determine whether sediment from erosion or nutrient runoff from land is causing the turbidity impairments.

Once the data has been collected and analyzed, the project team will present their results at local events and partner with Clemson Extension to create educational materials to share with the community.

For questions about this South Carolina Sea Grant funded project, contact Dr. Amy Scaroni with Clemson University's Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science.