Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 1:50 PM
DEVELOPMENT OF A REGULATORY LEVEL WATER QUALITY MONITORING PROGRAM FOR ENTEROCOCCUS IN RECREATIONAL WATERS OF CHARLESTON, SC
Routine monitoring of waterways is resource intense and developing a new water quality monitoring program is a complex process. Charleston Waterkeeper, an environmental nonprofit based in Charleston, South Carolina, recently established a regulatory level Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program (RWQMP) that tests weekly for fecal indicator bacteria, enterococci, at multiples sites in the estuary of Ashley/Cooper River Watershed (ACRW) in Charleston, SC. The World Health Organization designates Enterococcus as a reliable indicator of the risk of gastroenteritis associated with primary contact recreation in fecal contaminated waters. The ACRW’s tidal creeks and rivers are frequently used for primary contact recreation by residents and visitors who are unaware of the increasing fecal pollution in the water caused by rapid coastal development. Accordingly, the RWQMP was designed to produce high quality data used to 1) inform water users of the most current state of fecal pollution in local tidal creeks, and 2) assist in formulation of the South Carolina 303(d) list of impaired waters. To ensure quality of the data produced from this program, two critical components were established: an approved quality assurance project plan (QAPP) and a laboratory certified for analyzing enterococci. The QAPP is an official document outlining in detail the entire scope of a project that serves as both a training manual and a reference for project personnel. The laboratory was outfitted with the required equipment, materials, and methodology necessary to pass certification standards of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC). At the close of the initial monitoring season, cumulative enterococci data showed that two-thirds of sites tested in ACRW estuary failed to meet the South Carolina water quality standards. During the development process, Charleston Waterkeeper partnered with the College of Charleston and worked closely with SC DHEC. This experience proved that collaboration of institutions working to achieve a common goal not only greatly alleviated resource limitations, but it also allowed for enhanced expansion in the scope of the project. Development of the RWQMP aims to serve as an example for other environmental organizations attempting to produce similar caliber programs.