CLEMSON — Do you know what happens to local rivers and streams if lawns are over-fertilized or motor oil is washed down storm drains?

Carolina Clear, Clemson University’s stormwater pollution education and awareness program, wants to gauge what Pee Dee- and Horry County-area residents understand about local water quality, and what effects their actions can have on these resources.

During the next four weeks, through a partnership between Clemson University and George Mason University, students will conduct telephone surveys with households in Richland and Sumter counties to better understand what information and educational programs are needed to help protect the area’s valuable water resources.

The surveys will be conducted from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays. Each survey is designed to last no longer than 15 minutes. The goal is to have 400 residents complete the survey.

The purpose of the surveys is three-fold, said Katie Giacalone, Carolina Clear’s statewide coordinator.

First, the surveys will yield a better understanding of how South Carolinians utilize local waterways, whether for recreation, fishing, commerce or other uses. This information helps watershed managers know who their audiences are and how much they value clean water, Giacalone said.

Second, the survey will illustrate what people know about how their actions affect local water quality.

“Whether we know it or not, we all generate polluted runoff,” Giacalone said. “From not picking up after our dogs to coolant that drips from our car, stormwater pollution is people pollution, and we all can play a meaningful role in keeping South Carolina’s waters clean.”

The third way the survey will be utilized is to measure program impact over time, which is meaningful for federal stormwater regulatory compliance, she said.

Through area consortia and local partnerships, Carolina Clear works with communities to meet these permit requirements, and in the end minimize polluted stormwater runoff by educating and involving the general public and specific audiences about how to can keep water in the state’s streams, rivers and basins as clean as possible now and for future generations.

The Pee Dee and Horry County partnerships are the Florence Darlington Stormwater Consortium and the Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium.

In the coming months, Carolina Clear will conduct similar surveys in the Lowcountry and Upstate. A survey of Midlands residents is almost complete.

Preliminary results from the survey will be available to the public in the winter of 2014 through the Carolina Clear website, local newsletters and presentations. A full report will be published in the summer of 2014.

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Carolina Clear
Carolina Clear is a stormwater education and awareness program of the Clemson University Restoration Institute and the Center for Watershed Excellence. The program’s goal is to minimize polluted stormwater runoff by educating the general public, youth, builders, developers, homeowners and government officials about how they can keep water in the state’s streams, rivers and basins as clean as possible.


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