CLEMSON — Clemson University has joined Anderson & Pickens Counties Stormwater Partners, a regional collaborative invested in the protection of South Carolina’s valuable water resources.
As part of joining the partnership, Clemson has applied to become the first university in the state permitted as a small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
By joining approximately 120 South Carolina communities permitted under the program, Clemson will continue to closely monitor its stormwater discharges and will commit to conduct public education and outreach efforts aimed at reducing water pollution.
“This is a major improvement for Clemson University and will allow us to ensure water quality, proper resource stewardship and to better manage costs going forward,” said Brett Dalton, Clemson vice president for finance and operations.
Formed in 2009 through a partnership between Upstate municipalities and counties and Clemson Extension’s Carolina Clear program, Anderson & Pickens Counties Stormwater Partners aims to reduce the pollution transmitted to local waterways by rainfall, snowmelt and excess irrigation.
Doing so is a matter of public health and safety as much of the region’s drinking water comes from surface water.
“Watershed management makes us think beyond our municipal and county boundaries to look at the larger picture, which includes long-term protection of our drinking water and recreational waters too,” said Scottie Ferguson, Pickens County stormwater manager.
The collaborative educates the general public, youth, builders, developers, homeowners and government officials about how to keep water in the state’s streams, rivers and basins as clean as possible. The university has hired Charly McConnell as an Extension agent to serve as the partnership’s outreach coordinator on campus.
Extension agent Cathy Reas Foster is the outreach coordinator in Pickens County and Rachel Davis is the outreach coordinator for Anderson County.
Anderson & Pickens Counties Stormwater Partners is just one of the regional partnerships Carolina Clear has established to protect South Carolina’s water quality. Five similar partnerships are protecting water resources in the Lowcountry, Grand Strand, Pee Dee, Midlands and Upstate.
In the Upstate, Clemson University joins Anderson and Pickens counties; the cities of Pickens, Easley, Liberty, Anderson and Clemson; and the towns of Belton, Central and Norris in the collaborative.
“By combining resources, these consortiums save money and provide a strong educational message across the region,” said Katie Buckley, Carolina Clear director and Extension associate.
The Environmental Protection Agency emphasizes public education as a fundamental component in reducing stormwater runoff pollution. The EPA requires that certain municipalities and counties educate and involve the public as part of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Phase II stormwater permit program.
More information on this partnership can be found at www.clemson.edu/carolinaclear, which also has information on how to get involved in water resources protection.
Resources available include how-to manuals on rain gardens, rain barrels and low-maintenance landscapes; instructional videos; stormwater pond management guidance and annual inspection logs; South Carolina watershed curriculum; events; and technical courses.
Comments from partnership members:
“This partnership looks to involve residents and students in preventing pollution most especially related to sediment loss, bacteria and fats, oils and grease,” said Adam Cromer, stormwater manager for the city of Anderson. “Each individual has a role to play, and the Anderson and Pickens Counties Stormwater Partners, facilitated by Clemson’s Carolina Clear program, will help get these messages and how-to information to those who are most connected to our pollution that we see on the landscape and in our waterways.”
Tony Putnum, executive director of utility services and energy management at Clemson University, said it is essential to educate the campus community of the importance of managing storm water to prevent pollution in lakes, streams and rivers, especially since it is ramping up its efforts to become a Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (SMS4).
“The Upstate partnership’s combined effort to work with Clemson’s Carolina Clear is an excellent way to develop a greater level of education and awareness with students, faculty and staff – many who currently live and eventually will reside and work throughout the Upstate,” he said.
Rusty Burns, Anderson County administrator, said the regional initiative is just one way the area is looking progressively at watershed protection.
In addition, we have worked with developers to incorporate sound stormwater management practices, which decrease the likelihood of floods, ecosystem destruction and polluted runoff,” Burns said.
This release provided by Clemson University.