Carolina Clear to survey Lowcountry residents about water quality awareness

  • Sunday, December 29, 2013

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

Carolina Clear, Clemson University’s stormwater pollution education and awareness program, wants to gauge what Lowcountry residents understand about local water quality and what impact their actions can have on these resources.

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

Carolina Clear wants to gauge what Lowcountry residents understand about local water quality.

The surveys will be conducted from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays to Fridays 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, commercial means 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 public about how to keep water in the state’s streams, rivers and basins as clean as possible for now and future generations.

Carolina Clear’s Lowcountry consortium is Ashley Cooper Stormwater Education Consortium.

In the coming months, Carolina Clear will conduct a similar survey in the Upstate. Surveys of Midlands, Pee Dee- and Grand Strand-area residents also have conducted.

Preliminary results from the surveys 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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