2002 Progress Report: Tidal Creek Monitoring and Reporting ProgramEPA Grant Number: R829322
Title: Tidal Creek Monitoring and Reporting Program
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 Period Covered by this Report: October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2002
Project Amount: $399,788
RFA: Environmental Monitoring for Public Access and Community Tracking (EMPACT) (2001) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Statistics , Water , Ecosystems , Air , Ecological Indicators/Assessment/Restoration
This research project involves the City of Charleston in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), and the South Carolina (SC) Aquarium. The overall goal of the project is to assess the impacts of stormwater runoff on tidal creeks in the metropolitan area. The specific objective of this research project is to reach the entire family by engaging children in the project, as well as to educate those children to be future stewards of the environment through wise personal and organizational practices. Project investigators are monitoring water quality and quantity in four representative tidal creeks following storm events, and are tracking nutrient loading data collected from atmospheric sources at a fifth site. An extensive public education effort will direct students and the public at large to the EMPACT Web Site. At a display at the SC Aquarium, the public will find information on the project's scope and an interpretation of sampling results. It is anticipated that this information will demonstrate both the environmental and health risks associated with stormwater runoff, as well as advise the public of certain activities they can employ to help minimize negative impacts.
The USGS has established one gauging station and walk-in shelter at each of the four creeks, and the SCDNR has established two sampling sites in each creek. Sampling has occurred during the entire fall period as weather permitted. The following were used as samples at each creek: (1) two wet samples and one dry sample at Shem Creek; (2) one wet and one dry sample at Old House Creek; (3) one wet sample at Parrot Creek; and (4) one wet sample at Bulls Creek. Sediment samples were collected from the sites in September and frozen; they are waiting to be processed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. One and one-half to 2 months of 30-minute-interval water quality measurements have been collected or are underway. The wet and dry samples currently are being processed at the National Water Quality Assessment Laboratory in Colorado and at a local Charleston laboratory. The SCDNR has been maintaining the atmospheric deposition site and collecting data for later analysis. It is too early in the testing process for an analysis of results and/or findings. Once more, information is available, comparisons and trends can be established, and preliminary data can be passed on to the public. The USGS currently has real-time data for each of the four creeks available on its Web site; this includes gauge height, temperature, conductivity, precipitation, and velocity.
Future activities include continued sampling during the winter months and the upcoming spring and summer seasons, as weather permits. The official Web site for the project will go online in February, and will present information on the project's purpose, participants and sponsors, maps and photos of the sampling sites, explanations of what is being measured and why, and action information for citizen involvement. As preliminary test results become available, this information will be posted on the Web site with explanatory text. The SC Aquarium will debut an interactive kiosk with educational information about the project. Other promotional methods will be implemented, including PSAs, newspaper coverage, and children's activity placemats. Surveys to measure public awareness of the subject will be woven into the educational campaign at relevant intervals.