Tidal Creek Monitoring and Reporting Program

EPA Grant Number: R829322
Title: Tidal Creek Monitoring and Reporting Program
Investigators: Cabiness, Laura , Sanger, Denise , Conlon, Kevin , Vaughn, Tracy
Current Investigators: Cabiness, Laura , Vaughn, Tracy
Institution: City of Charleston , South Carolinia Department of Natural Resources , United States Geological Survey [USGS]
Current Institution: City of Charleston
EPA Project Officer: Packard, Benjamin H
Project Period: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2003
Project Amount: $399,788
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Aquatic Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration


The City of Charleston is collaborating with the SC Department of Natural Resources, the US Geological Survey, and the SC Aquarium to assess the impacts of storm water runoff on tidal creeks in the metropolitan area. Project investigators will monitor water quality and quantity in four representative tidal creeks following storm events, and track nutrient loading data collected from atmospheric sources at a fifth site. The almost real-time data will be presented via the City of Charleston's EMPACT web site. Information will also be provided to the public through a kiosk at the SC Aquarium, at neighborhood meetings, and in radio and television announcements. Objectives: Related studies have identified tidal creeks as the first order connection between land-based activities and estuarine environmental quality. Estimation of pollutant loadings into tidal creeks and determination of the consequences of these loadings to water quality and sediment quality in the estuarine portion of those creeks is essential for developing effective storm water management, land use, and remedial action plans. Providing this information to resource managers, policymakers, and the general public will increase awareness of the risks from non-point source pollution and support regulatory decisions and the use of preventive measures.


Project investigators will monitor water quality during and following storm events in four local tidal creeks, selected to represent the various types and levels of land use found in the Charleston area, including urban, high density suburban, medium density suburban, and undeveloped. Water and sediment quality samples will be collected in the headwaters of each tidal creek, as well as in areas further downstream. Rainfall, streamflow, specific conductance, and temperature will be monitored continuously and the provisional data disseminated to the public in almost real time (hourly) through a combination of satellite, land-line or radio telemetry and web sites. Water quality data collected from samples at these sites and data from the atmospheric deposition site will also be provided to the public in a timely manner. The City and the SC Aquarium will conduct an extensive educational campaign to ensure that this information is relevant and useful to the area's residents.

Expected Results:

It is anticipated that the results of the water quality sampling in Charleston will parallel the findings reported in other communities, specifically that stormwater from residential land-use basins has higher concentrations of total nitrogen, fecal coliform bacteria, and organic compounds than runoff from other land-use types. The data should also support earlier research suggesting that development in the watersheds is contributing to a significant pollution threat in the associated tidal creeks. Through the provision of educational information, it is expected that citizens will gain a better understanding of the impacts of their daily activities on water quality, the significant health risks associated with fishing or swimming in impaired waters, and the importance of implementing practices and policies that minimize negative impacts.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 3 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

atmospheric deposition; water; stormwater; watershed; estuary; tidal creek; risk; health effects; public policy; monitoring; precipitation; nitrogen; bacteria; organic compound; land use; remediation; satellite; telemetry, RFA, Scientific Discipline, Water, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, RESEARCH, Water & Watershed, Ground Water, Monitoring/Modeling, Monitoring, Civil/Environmental Engineering, Wet Weather Flows, Terrestrial Ecosystems, Environmental Monitoring, Ecological Risk Assessment, Ecology and Ecosystems, Urban and Regional Planning, Watersheds, aquatic ecosystem, EMPACT, remote sensing, atmospheric processes, hydrologic dynamics, Tidal Creek, nutrient transport, wetlands, community-based approach, streams, nutrients, downstream effects, runoff, sediment transport, stream ecosystems, community water quality information system, stormwater, community outreach, community tracking, nutrient monitoring , water quality, community partnerships, aquatic ecosystems, lake ecosysyems, ecological models, nutrient transport model, stormwater runoff, ecology assessment models, water management options, watershed assessment, land management, stream ecosystem, storm water, Storm Water Management Model, land use

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2002 Progress Report
  • Final Report