Originally created 03/14/97

Workshops seek opinions on watershed



NORTH AUGUSTA - State officials can't be everywhere to monitor water quality in South Carolina, so for the first time they're on the road sampling public opinion.

On Thursday about 25 to 30 people attended a workshop at the North Augusta Community Center to brainstorm about what concerns people about water quality and what problems are foreseen for the future.

About 70 people attended a similar meeting in Clemson in February. Another meeting is scheduled for Beaufort.

The overall news is that water quality in the Savannah River-Salkehatchie Watershed is pretty good, said Kathy Stecker, watershed manager for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Strategy reports for the state's five drainage basins, or watersheds, are updated every five years. The Savannah River-Salkehatchie basin encompasses Aiken, McCormick, Greenwood, Edgefield, Saluda, Barnwell, Bamberg and Allendale counties.

A watershed is an area of land, of any size, from which all water - including run-off from rainfall - drains into a creek, lake, wetland or estuary of lower elevation.

"We always thought we needed to do this because we have a monitoring system, but it's silly to sit in Columbia and think we can know everything," she said.

Topping the list of concerns at Thursday's meeting were sediment run-off related to construction or development projects following rainfalls, and development projects in general along the Savannah River. Greater communication and coordination between regulatory agencies in Georgia and South Carolina was also listed as a priority by workshop participants.

DHEC staff will compile the comments from the workshops, produce a draft watershed management report and give the public a chance to comment on any proposals, Ms. Stecker said.

The draft report will be ready in the spring of 1998 and the final report is expected in the summer.