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Testing the Waters

Over the weekend, The State focused on a question that came up at a House hearing last week: How do we know if our rivers are clean? The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) monitors the pollution levels in South Carolina’s rivers and streams. Scientists from DHEC test the rivers that provide our drinking water to ensure they’re safe. The State talked to groups that protect our rivers:

In the past two Years, at least 22 sewage spills have fouled the waters of Crane Creek with more than 1 million gallons of untreated wastewater, according to records analyzed by a local river protection group.

But while state regulators post warning signs when spills occur, they say the North Columbia stream sometimes is safe for recreational uses, such as canoeing, swimming or wading.

Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler isn’t so sure. He says the state has little current data to judge how clean the creek is – and that’s why he says South Carolina needs to routinely monitor the creek to determine whether sewage is ruining water quality.

Ensuring that the sources of our drinking water are safe requires a strong DHEC. Clean, swimmable, and fishable waters do not just happen. The public servants at DHEC use the best science to verify that our public health protections are working. We should support them in their work.



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