South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Press Release
May 29, 2018 - COLUMBIA, SC - The S.C. Drought Response Committee met Tuesday via conference call to update the drought statuses of all counties in South Carolina.
Above average rainfall totals across much of the state during the month of May, along with improving numbers across a range of indicators, prompted members of the Committee to vote unanimously to change the drought status of 13 counties from “incipient” to “normal.” The counties that were removed from the first level of drought (incipient stage) included Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Dorchester, Edgefield, Hampton, Lexington, McCormick, Richland, and Saluda.
“The last time the entire state was drought-free was July 8, 2016,” said S.C. State Climatologist Hope Mizzell.
The weather pattern across South Carolina for the month of May began with warm and dry conditions. However, the weather pattern changed during the second half of the month, according to Leonard Vaughan, Senior Hydrologist/Meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“A persistent trough of low pressure produced a moist, southerly flow, which increased rainfall coverage,” said Vaughn. “This, combined with the additional moisture from Sub-Tropical Storm Alberto, brought even more beneficial rainfall. Over the past fourteen days, rainfall across South Carolina, has ranged from 200 to 600 percent above normal, with totals from 3 to 12 inches.”
“Recent rainfall, along with higher humidity, has helped reduce the number of wildfires statewide,” added Brad Bramlett, Rural Fire Coordinator with the S.C Forestry Commission. “This was very much needed, since we were well above our 5- and 10-year averages for the number of fires just a month ago.”
The above normal rainfalls over the past several weeks have also significantly improved streamflow levels across the state. All of the state’s major reservoirs are now at or near their target levels for this time of year, reported South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Senior Hydrologist Scott Harder. “According to the latest available data, lake levels and stream flows across the state are in good shape now,” said Harder. “Overall groundwater levels look good as well.”
These improved conditions supported moving all counties that were previously in an incipient drought status to a no drought (normal) status. The committee will continue to monitor the weather and will meet again as conditions warrant. More information about drought conditions and drought policy in South Carolina is available via the new and improved South Carolina Drought Portal at www.scdrought.com
We've been rocking out our Rock the Dam campaign! We're working to make sure the best plan for the river is put in place at the New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam. Before the Corps of Engineers releases their options for comment this summer, we're advocating for the City of Augusta to make a decision to save the locks. We think keeping them in place will provide an excellent opportunity for amenities like a whitewater course that could be great for the community.
But we need you to rally behind it! Here are a few ways to get involved:
This week, the moratorium on new petroleum pipelines was extended in the legislature by a unanimous vote - 104 yeas with none opposed. A few abstained, but not many. Take a moment to check the vote history and email your Representative to say thank you! There is still work to be done, but we appreciate our lawmakers' wisdom in recognizing that good pipeline policy should not be rushed. In the meantime, our state will remain protected.
Georgia has made moves to implement more stringent permitting requirements for pipelines' use of eminent domain. You can read a summary of the proposed rules in this week's editorial from Savannah Morning News. Your last chance to weigh in closes at 4:30 p.m. today, Friday April 13. Written comments can be emailed to EPDComments@dnr.ga.gov and should include “Proposed Petroleum Pipeline Permit Rule Amendments” in the subject line. We've made it simple - click the EPD address for a quick form email to fill in!
SRK VS. KINDER MORGAN
Just yesterday, the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturned an earlier decision from a South Carolina court ruling Kinder Morgan was not in violation of the Clean Water Act for a pipeline spill near Belton, SC in 2014. The pipe leaked more than 370,000 gallons of gas and diesel into local waterways, one of the worst spills in state history. Savannah Riverkeeper and partners Upstate Forever sued to require cleanup of the ongoing pollution.
This week's ruling means we can continue our case against Kinder Morgan to ensure they are held accountable and this atrocious leak is remediated.
The fight to ensure our states are protected from dirty, dangerous pipelines is one we must keep up, but we need your help. Make a donation to this effort today!
We're thrilled to share this short film of the Palmetto Pipeline story, produced by Corey Robinson for Savannah Riverkeeper. Incredible teamwork by many who came together to defeat this project has made great progress for Georgia and South Carolina. Without the dedication of these landowners and advocates, the Palmetto Pipeline would be flowing alongside our rivers today. Watch it here or on our Vimeo page, and share! #PushBackthePipeline
We've released our Community and Waterway Cleanup Series dates for 2018!
Events will run from March through November in both the Augusta and Savannah areas. The series consists of a few large community-based cleanup events focused on public spaces and parks, along with several smaller, “on-the-water” outings for those with canoes, kayaks, other boats and even divers who want to get involved. We encourage anyone to join.
“Litter is a big and often overlooked problem for our neighborhoods and waterways. Trash, debris, contaminants and other refuse that doesn’t get disposed of properly becomes a nuisance and worse, it ends up in the river through the storm drains,” said Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus. ”The cleanup program is an opportunity for citizens to make a direct impact where they live.”
SRK performs regular cleanups both on the water and in areas throughout the watershed, and helps facilitate when individuals, schools, clubs, or other groups wish to organize a cleanup project, providing trash bags, gloves, lunches and methods for proper disposal of sometimes troublesome items like tires and electronics. “Last year, we hosted 44 cleanups in the Augusta area with 427 participants and more than 7 tons of trash picked up and properly recycled or disposed of,” said Mary Jacobson, Volunteer Coordinator for Savannah Riverkeeper. “In the Savannah area, we hosted 5 cleanups with 162 participants and more than 900 lbs. of trash. We have goals to exceed that for 2018 and are looking forward to many successful cleanup events.”
To learn more, visit Savannah Riverkeeper events on Facebook for details, or go to www.savannahriverkeeper.org/volunteer-opportunities to sign up, and stay tuned for more dates which may be added.
Savannah Riverkeeper’s 2018 Cleanup Series Dates
All events are from 9:00am - 12:00pm. Volunteers should dress appropriately for weather and with closed-toed shoes. Those under age 16 must be accompanied by a parent or other adult (teacher, scout leader, etc.). Trash bags, gloves and water provided at each, lunch and t-shirts for select events only.
Sat. March 31- Downtown Augusta on-the-water; meet at 10th Street Dock
Sat. April 14 - North Augusta Clean Sweep; meet at Brick Pond Park (North Augusta Kids Earth Day Event) and clean up the location of your choice
Sat. April 14 - Ebenezer Creek on-the-water (Savannah area); meet at Tommy Long Landing
Sat. April 21 - Earth Day Cleanup, part of CityServe 2018; meet at Lock & Dam Park, Barton Village Community Center, Henry H. Brigham Park, or Diamond Lakes Regional Park
Thurs. June 14 - Lake Olmstead/Augusta Canal on-the-water; meet at Lake Olmstead
Sat. July 14 - Lake Olmstead Work Day; meet at Lake Olmstead Park
Sat. September 22 - Betty’s Branch on-the-water; meet at Outdoor Augusta Riverside Rentals
Sat. November 3 - Rivers Alive Statewide Cleanup Event; meet at Lake Olmstead and clean up the waterway/location of your choice
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management just released its new five-year plan for leasing offshore areas for oil and gas drilling and nearly all U.S. waters are proposed for leases to the oil and gas industry. Under this proposal, every coastal area in the continental United States and Alaska are at risk from the devastating impacts of offshore drilling.
The good news is that this plan is not set in stone, as the name suggests, this is just a draft proposal and there will be opportunity to submit comments on it. The public comment period is open now and ends March 8. You’ve helped defeat drilling proposals off of our Atlantic Coast once – speak out and help do it again!
Submit your comments here to let them know why you oppose offshore drilling and that you do not want to see it off of Georgia's or South Carolina’s coast. You can also mail in your comments to: Ms. Kelly Hammerle, National OCS Oil and Gas Leasing Program Manager, BOEM (VAM-LD), 45600 Woodland Road, Sterling, VA 20166.
We suggest that comments:
Then, plan to attend one of the “open meetings” BOEM will hold in the state capitals of each of the Atlantic Coast states. Efforts are underway to convince BOEM that additional meetings should be held in coastal cities.
If you go to a public meeting, here is a template that you can use to begin to prepare your statement: “Offshore drilling is a toxic and dangerous practice that ravages our oceans with chemical pollution, spills, fires, and explosions. It kills fish and sea life, poisons coral reefs and pollutes beaches. Expanding offshore drilling damages the tourism, recreation, and fishing industries that generate billions of dollars for our state's economy. Please look forward rather than backward and invest public dollars in renewable energy sources.”
The administration's efforts defy the will of more than 140 Eastern coastal municipalities; over 1200 local, state and federal bipartisan officials; and an alliance representing over 41,000 businesses and 500,000 fishing families who say #ProtectOurCoast and #KeepItInTheGround. Together, we can stop this.
The opportunity is now for a universal charitable deduction! Ask your Senators for an amendment that supports nonprofits.
For 100 years, federal tax policy has incentivized the giving spirit and empowered our crucial work. But under the current overhaul plan, nonprofits and the work we do will take a hit. Simplifying the tax code is an admirable goal, and we can achieve a better outlook for nonprofits with a few simple amendments.
At Savannah Riverkeeper, we rely on the generosity of our members—hardworking folks and families like you—to support our efforts to protect the Savannah River every day. According to Republican estimates, nearly doubling the standard deduction would place the charitable deduction out of reach for 95% of Americans.
A decrease in giving of this scale would force charitable nonprofits, just like us, to make significant cuts to keep our doors open. Economists estimate a loss of more than 200,000 jobs in the nonprofit sector as a result. A bill that is designed to create jobs shouldn’t threaten the livelihoods of almost a quarter million Americans working to serve their communities.
The tax reform plans in current form will harm nonprofit organizations, the people they employ and most importantly, those who rely on their services. When charities are able to do their good work efficiently, it takes the burden off of government. Please call your U.S. Senators and ask them to speak up STRONGLY for nonprofits on the Senate floor:
David Perdue by phone (202) 224-3521, email, or Twitter @PerdueSenate
Johnny Isakson by phone (202) 224-3643, email, or Twitter @SenatorIsakson
Tim Scott by phone (202) 224-6121, email, or Twitter @SenatorTimScott
Lindsey Graham by phone (202) 224-5972, email, or Twitter @LindseyGrahamSC
Jacob Oblander, SRK Outreach Coordinator
Ebenezer Creek has a held a special place in locals’ and visitors’ hearts for centuries. It has been the site of important events in American history, the site of an early colony, Civil War and Revolutionary battles. But this year a new kind of battle has been raging along the banks of Ebenezer Creek, a battle to protect this waterway and the community that cherishes it.
A plant was built in the Effingham Industrial Park by DRT America, a company which produces terpenes and other wood byproducts. They planned to send their wastewater to the City of Springfield’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. This wastewater would be added into the stream that is already discharged in the creek and a land application spray field adjacent to Ebenezer Creek.
When the permits for this and the Springfield wastewater treatment plant were first released, the public outcry was loud and unanimous: protect our creek and keep our communities safe. Savannah Riverkeeper was among those voices that spoke out about the risk and the damage this would put on Ebenezer Creek and to the City of Springfield. Working with other local groups such as the Georgia Conservancy and One Hundred Miles, we engaged in outreach with citizens, local government, and other stakeholders to unify our message.
From its establishment in Effingham County DRT America has made decisions that have put locals and this natural resource at risk. Before receiving any permits for discharge or air quality, a $43 million plant had already been built. An assumption of their right to operate and discharge their wastewater to a municipal treatment plant was obvious. Savannah Riverkeeper has made efforts to engage with the company to create an advisory board to start a conversation with the area citizens.
This summer, DRT America was found to have discharged a liquid through a manhole cover into the Springfiled Treatment Plant’s system, this discharge showed a dangerously high pH level for ebenezer Creek. There have also been incidents of such foul-smelling air coming from this plant that caused a local child with asthma to gag and vomit. These incidents show a dangerous disregard for the communities along Ebenezer Creek.
On Thursday November 16, the City Council of Springfield voted unanimously to reject the wastewater from DRT America, making the decision to protect the City of Springfield and Ebenezer Creek. Savannah Riverkeeper applauds the council for this decision.
But the challenges are not yet over. Savannah Riverkeeper will continue collaborating with City of Springfield and county officials on solutions for future and current wastewater to not be discharged to Ebenezer Creek. We believe there are better solutions, and that Ebenezer Creek is not a viable option for receiving industrial or municipal wastewater.
Victories for our waterways are possible when we join together! Help us in our efforts by joining Savannah Riverkeeper as a member or donating to support our work.
To keep up with this and other issues, subscribe to our e-newsletter using the form on your screen and follow us on Facebook!
Volunteers from Augusta University including the Jaguars baseball team pitched in with Savannah Riverkeeper on Saturday, November 4 for their annual Day of Service. They helped clear the canoe and kayak launch at our headquarters in downtown Augusta, laying the path and spreading gravel for a smooth takeout.
The SRK canoe and kayak launch is at 328 Riverfront Drive, Augusta, GA 30901 and will be open to the public for use M-F from 9am-5pm. Come on by to check it out!
From there, it's a short paddle upriver toward 5th Street Marina and the Jessye Norman Amphitheater, or Hammond's Ferry and the imminent Riverside Village and ball park in North Augusta. Just downstream past the 520 bridge you can reach Horse Creek, a popular paddling route (and notorious for gator-spotting).
We also had friends pitching in to make progress on Edisto Riverkeeper's office space! Click here to learn more about the newest Waterkeeper in our region.
And one last thing—"SRK headquarters' canoe and kayak launch" is quite a mouthful. We're seeking a namesake sponsor for this public landing that will be in use for years to come! To find out more about this opportunity and your year-end charitable donation, contact Shawn Risher at 706-826-8991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City of Springfield will soon vote on a controversial measure to accept wastewater from DRT America, a new turpentine plant, to be treated at the municipal facility and discharged into Ebenezer Creek. This cherished local waterway is valuable recreationally, historically and ecologically, and every effort must be made to protect it. Plan to attend the meetings listed to learn more and make your voice heard!
Download the file to read Savannah Riverkeeper's comment.