From winding rivers and coastlines to native wildlife, South Carolina is home to a wide variety of natural wonders. Unfortunately, many of these wonders are under threat of pollution and elimination by development. Without intervention, many of the things that make the Palmetto State beautiful could disappear.
Luckily, a number of non-profits have stepped up to protect South Carolina’s natural landscapes, like Congaree Riverkeeper.
For almost nine years, Congaree Riverkeeper has been fighting to improve water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation on the Congaree, Lower Saluda and Broad rivers. These local waterways run through the Midlands, providing beautiful sites, recreation and crucial resources for both animals and humans.
“These rivers belong to each and every one of us and are a vital part of our community. River protection is about more than just boating or fishing. It’s about quality of life for our entire region and our right to clean water,” explains Riverkeeper Bill Stangler.
The organization employs a combination of advocacy, education and enforcement of environmental laws to defend the rivers from harmful pollutants and contaminants.
“Some of our programs and efforts include outreach and education activities, organizing volunteer cleanups, collecting water quality samples, responding to pollution reports, and taking polluters to court.”
This year the organization continued its advocacy, protection and preservation work through a number of major projects, such as a program in coalition with the University of South Carolina School of Public Health to monitor water conditions along the Saluda and Congaree rivers. The program’s website seeks to offer water quality and swimming advisory information to the public during high recreation periods in the summer and fall.
Most recently, the non-profit initiated legal action against SCE&G to remove toxic coal tar from the Congaree River.
Of course, the organization can’t take on these projects to defend our waterways without help from local volunteers and donations. Here are a few ways you can join Congaree Riverkeeper in standing up for local rivers.
1. Donate to the cause
Help keep our rivers clean, safe and accessible by participating in Giving Tuesday. Every year, millions of people across the world come together to support the causes they believe in by donating on November 28.
2. Volunteer for cleanups and other activities
Take some time out of your schedule to participate in a cleanup or volunteer activity organized by the Congaree Riverkeeper team. It’s even better (and more fun!) if you bring the whole family or a group of co-workers or friends to give back to the environment.
3. Stay informed about river and environmental issues
Sign up for the Congaree Riverkeeper newsletter and follow the organization on social media to stay up to date about the latest events and efforts.
4. Report pollution when you see or smell it
If you witness pollution along the Congaree, Lower Saluda or Broad rivers, such as sewage, trash or chemicals, report it by contacting Congaree Riverkeeper.
5. Make more eco-friendly choices
As citizens of the Midlands, our everyday choices can significantly impact our waterways. So little changes like conserving energy, reducing water usage, and not littering can make a big difference.
This Giving Tuesday, become a Congaree Riverkeeper member by making a donation online or mailing a check to P.O. Box 5294, Columbia, SC 29250.
To learn more about Congaree Riverkeeper and their efforts on behalf of local rivers, call 803-760-3357 or visit online at CongareeRiverkeeper.org.