Edisto again makes group’s top 10 list of rivers in trouble

A sea of marsh grass swarms the Edisto River when it reaches the coast.

What comes out of the Edisto River dispute could decide the public’s access to water across the state, an environmental advocate says. That’s why the Edisto on Tuesday was named one of the most endangered rivers in the country.

It’s the second year in a row the river has been named to American Rivers’ top 10 list of rivers in trouble. For more on the designated rivers, go to americanrivers.org.

This time the designation included both the north and south forks of the Edisto. Its intent is to support the approval of a bill in the state Legislature that would end an exemption for agriculture on restrictions to how much surface water can be withdrawn by a user.

The bill was spurred by a 2013 dispute whether an industrial-scale potato farm along the upper Edisto River should be allowed to remove as much water as managers wanted at the expense of downstream users.

The Edisto is considered the longest free-flowing blackwater river in the country.

Last year, the south fork of the river was named to the top 10 list by the water issues environmental advocate because of the controversy over the potato farm, which is located there.

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.