Columbia, SC – The Midlands Rivers Coalition, formerly known as the Lower Saluda River Coalition, this week began its second year of water quality monitoring of the major rivers in the Columbia area. This year, the monitoring has been expanded to include sampling locations on the Broad River in addition to existing sites on the Lower Saluda and Congaree Rivers. The testing will be done weekly and run from May through September. Weekly data will be posted each Thursday on howsmyscriver.org.
Created in 2016, the Midlands Rivers Coalition is made up of river related businesses, environmental organizations, local and state government, recreation providers, property owners, industry and other users of the rivers. One of the main purposes of the coalition is to educate river users on water quality issues related to our rivers.
The Lower Saluda, Broad and Congaree Rivers are recreational destinations for public fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, swimming and wading; and these activities involve contact with natural waters. As with most natural bodies of water, these rivers can be negatively impacted periodically by short-term events such as runoff from heavy rains, sewer overflows and other events. The program aims to enhance public awareness on these issues.
The first objective is to make water quality information more frequently and readily available to river users so they can make informed decisions on when to recreate in the river. This is the first program of its type for inland waters in South Carolina.
Contact recreation activities (swimming, wading, tubing, and paddling) may expose river users to harmful pollution. This water quality monitoring program is intended to provide river users with reliable information on water quality conditions and educate them about pollution issues so they can make informed decisions about their river activities.
E. coli is a type of bacteria that is specific to fecal material from humans and other warm-blooded animals. It is used as an indicator of health risk from water contact in recreational waters as its presence in streams suggests that pathogenic microorganisms might also be present and that swimming and other contact recreation activities might be a health risk.
Samples will be collected weekly during the high recreation season (May 1 – Sept. 30). Samples will be collected every Wednesday and if a sample result is high the site will be re-sampled on Thursday.
These samples are only a snapshot of a single location at a single time. Water quality conditions can change quickly and may be different in areas just upstream or downstream of a sample site.
Advisories are cautions that water may contain harmful germs. Advisories are issued where high amounts of bacteria have been found.
An advisory is just a warning that water may contain harmful germs. It does not mean that you cannot use the river, but you should use caution.
The coalition is made up of several river stakeholders including government agencies, municipalities, wastewater providers, parks, river advocacy organizations, river related businesses and other river users.
High level (>349.0 per 100mL of water)
Low level (0.0-349.0 per 100mL of water)
An external warning has been issued for this location.
What is tested in beach water monitoring samples?
Enterococcus bacteria are tested in the samples to indicate presence of bacteria in the water. Elevated levels of these bacteria in the water can indicate possible contamination by fecal waste. Enterococcus is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including humans, pets and wildlife.
More information on swimming safety can be found on DHEC's website here.