The Midlands Rivers Coalition has started its third year of water quality monitoring along the Saluda, Broad and Congaree rivers.
The group will conduct water testing at 10 sites along those rivers weekly, and post the results to the How's My SC River? website. The website offers a straight-forward explanation as to whether it is safe to swim in the rivers, or if there is a swimming advisory at a given location based on possible pollution or bacteria.
The Midlands Rivers Coalition is made up of a number of river stakeholders, including state and local government agencies, environmental groups, recreation providers, frequent river users and others.
"This is our third season of sampling and we're really happy to be able to continue to provide up-to-date water quality information to river users," Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Stangler tells Free Times. "We've added some new features to what we are doing, including physical signs at a bunch of river access points, including some signs that can be flipped down to display advisories, if we get data back, that [informs swimmers] that bacteria levels are high."
This year's round of water quality monitoring began May 1 and will continue through September. As the swimming and boating season is cranking up, Stangler says a number of people have been asking when the coalition's monitoring would begin anew.
"For the last month or so, I've been hearing, 'Hey, when's sampling start back up?' or 'Hey, why isn't the website updated?'" the River Keeper says. "Well, it's updated now, and that's a good thing."
Stangler notes multiple agencies in the coalition help fund the water quality monitoring, at a collective cost of about $20,000. As in 2018, Irmo's Access Analytical is the lab analyzing the river water samples.