Watershed-based Plan was focus of conference

Efforts to inform and educate the public about the Murrells Inlet estuary topped discussions at the Nov. 5 Murrells Inlet 2020 meeting.

Steve Williams, a board member of Murrells Inlet 2020 who also works with Earthworks Group, gave an overview of the S.C. Water Resources Conference at the group’s Nov. 5 meeting.

He reported that members of a committee that developed the Watershed-based Plan presented their findings at a state conference on Oct. 15.

Williams said the conference was a success and it was even televised, which was not part of the original plan.

“The presentations are out there and can be viewed online,” he said.

To view parts of the conference online, visit https://ensemble.clemson.edu/Watch/5nQ1o4o-VkOMIR7-HmlVMw

Williams’ portion of the talk was tailored to the Murrells Inlet Watershed-based Plan and Earthworks Group’s role in the process and the spacial analysis and mapping.

“I discussed different data types in the plan, where they came from and how we created them,” Williams said.

Also speaking were Susan Libes with the Waccamaw Watershed Academy, Daniel Newquist with the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, Heather Young with Coastal Carolina University, speaking about the statistical analysis of fecal choliform data, Delainey Faircloth, Amy Bennett and Amanda Sturgeon with S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC), and Dave Fuss, Horry County stormwater manager.

According to the website www.clemson.edu, more than 340 people attended the 2014 S.C. Water Resources Conference. Video of the morning plenary sessions, the special session the afternoon of Day 1 and interviews are now available for viewing.

The theme of this year’s conference focused on the development of a comprehensive statewide water plan, the website stated.

The morning plenary sessions on both days were expanded to present panels encapsulating statewide viewpoints about water resources planning. The first day plenary featured legislative and major business leaders and the second day plenary welcomed regulatory agency and nonprofit representatives, the website stated.

The Murrells Inlet Watershed-based Plan has been made possible through a collaborative effort by several groups in the area and state: Murrells Inlet 2020, the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments (WRCOG), Coastal Carolina University’s Waccamaw Watershed Academy, storm water departments for Georgetown and Horry counties, Earthworks Group, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the North Inlet Estuary Research Reserve, Clemson University, the Baruch Marine Lab and community stakeholders.

Watershed Grant

Williams also mentioned that Murrells Inlet 2020, a community revitalization group, and the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments (WRCOG) have received official approval for a $270,000 grant from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to implement stormwater filtering systems recommended in the Murrells Inlet Watershed-based Plan.

Three pilot projects will be completed using the $161,890 in federal funds and $109,742 in non-federal funds that comprise the grant.

The three projects are floating treatment wetlands, bacteria media filter strips in roadside ditches, and a constructed stormwater wetland.

Williams said that the Watershed Plan Committee has a three-year time frame for these projects, but there are no definite plans for beginning the work at this point.

“There is some work that the county needs to do as far as easements and wetlands studies,” Williams stated.