Waccamaw River seeing rising levels of bacteria

Published: Oct. 5, 2011 at 10:39 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 5, 2011 at 12:46 PM EDT
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CONWAY, SC (WMBF) Volunteers with the Waccamaw Monitoring Program have been using devices to test different parts of the Waccamaw River. Now that the research has been done over the past five years, there's more information on the trends of what's in the water.

The program has found even though levels of bacteria, like E. Coli, are below state and federal standards, they are on the rise. The river eventually meets up with the Intracoastal Waterway, and in different parts, contributes to the water we drink.

There have been spikes in places along the river, like Hagley Landing in Pawley's Island and Wacca Wache Marina in Murrels Inlet. This is partly because polluted swamps or streams running off into the Waccamaw, affecting it.

The program wants to address this trend now, so that our water will continue to meet standards. And so it won't keep tourists from coming to the river, which would affect businesses.

"As a grandmother and mother of children and grandchildren, who do kayak," said Elizabeth Moorhouse. "My 10 year old has his own kayak and we live in Virginia and I would be concerned if he was in water."

The monitoring program says now is good time to act to keep the water clean. A lot of help can be done in your yard. It's important not to over fertilize your yard, because the water run off can eventually land in the river.

The Waccammaw Riverkeeper suggests that you create places in your lawn for water to gather in the soil. This way, the soil has more time to absorb any contaminants, instead of water running quickly into a drain. Actions like this on land, can help stop polluted run-off from going into the Waccamaw.

"I think the Waccamaw River defines us," said Riverkeeper Christine Ellis. "It's a major source of drinking water for our communities and that in particular is very important to us. It not only supports our residents but supports our tourism trade."

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