In an effort to curb pollution in some area waterways, Augusta utilities’ water customers are being asked to answer a water usage survey that will be used to improve public education and outreach.
Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park and the Augusta utilities department have partnered to find ways to keep contaminants out of water– especially Butler and Rocky creeks. Both creeks, which flow into the Savannah River, are listed on a federal report of impaired waterways.
The online survey will help determine the public’s water usage, with value placed on the local water supply, perception of water-related issues and attitudes about water resource management.
Questions ask participants about water-related recreation, house plumbing conditions, yard watering, pet waste disposal and more. Several questions seek information on what the public knows about polluted waters and protecting water from contaminants.
The survey is the first step in developing public outreach and education on water quality, said Matt Erickson, a research scientist at Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy. It’s important to gauge how much the public understands before teaching them more about the area’s water sources.
“Hopefully, we can develop some more targeted education on the issues,” he said.
Butler and Rocky creeks don’t meet designated uses for fishing because of elevated levels of fecal coliform, a bacteria found in human and animal waste.
Erickson said studies have been conducted to determine sources of the pollutants, but no definite areas were identified. The likely sources are malfunctioning septic systems and storm water drains, he said.
The online survey takes 20 to 30 minutes to complete. An invitation to complete the survey is included in Augusta water bills through Oct. 25.