What You Can Do
As residents of the Midlands, our actions at home, at work, and at play have an effect on our Rivers. You can make a difference in the health of the Congaree, Saluda and Broad Rivers by taking the following measures:
1. Our work as an independent voice for our Rivers is made possible by concerned citizens like you. Become a member of Congaree Riverkeeper by clicking on this link to make a financial contribution via PayPal, or here to print a membership form.
2. How we take care of our lawns and yards can have a significant impact upon the health of our waterways. Stormwater runoff from rain and irrigation can wash fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides from our yards into storm drains and, ultimately, into our river and its tributaries. Excessive nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) from fertilizers can cause serious algal blooms that are harmful to the aquatic vegetation, wildlife and even human health. Herbicides and pesticides can also be harmful to native aquatic vegetation, fish, wildlife, and humans. To do your part in protecting our Rivers, incorporate the following practices:
• Mulch your beds with sustainable, natural materials to retain moisture and slow wet weather runoff.
• Plant a tree! Trees help reduce the volume of stormwater that flows into our Rivers. Trees are natural pollution filters, filtering stormwater by removing nutrients, like nitrogen, and other pollutants. Trees also improve air quality, reduce energy consumption by shading and cooling our homes and businesses, and provide valuable habitat for insects and wildlife.
• Create or expand beds using native or low maintenance plants next to water bodies, streets, driveways, and sidewalks. This will create buffers to help prevent runoff and keep fertilizers and chemicals on your lawn.
• Use pervious materials, like gravel, crushed stone, mulch or pervious concrete or pavers, when building or expanding driveways, walkways, and patios. These materials minimize runoff, by allowing stormwater to percolate down through the surface into the soil where it can be naturally filtered and pollutants are removed.
3. Conserve water. Reducing your water usage can save you money and keep more water in our rivers. Buy water efficient appliances, and fix water leaks. Use rain barrels to contain rainwater for use in your yard or garden. If you use an irrigation system, adjust your sprinklers to only water your grass and plants, not your street, sidewalk, or driveway. Routinely adjust and maintain timers and sprayheads. Use drip irrigation when feasible. Pay attention to the weather forecast and seasonal weather patterns and make adjustments to your irrigation practices accordingly.
4. Don't litter. Please dispose of your trash responsibly. While most litter seen along our roads and rivers and streams have little impact on water quality, it does detract from the aesthetic quality of our natural surroundings. Some trash, like plastic rings, may harm aquatic wildlife.
5. Conserve energy. Generating electricity uses more water than any other water use. Save money and water by turning off lights when away, insulating your water heater, using energy efficient appliances and light bulbs, and reducing your thermostat.
6. Learn about our Rivers and the issues that are impacting its health. Keep up to date on public meetings, hearings, and educational lectures about permit applications, or other threats to our Rivers. Get engaged in river protection!
7. Whether you are in your car or boat or on foot, pay close attention to what is going on around you. Is dirt running off a construction site into a creek? Did you spot a fish kill or a broken wastewater pipe? Is someone illegally-dumping trash or pollution into a storm drain or directly into a water body? If you don't know who to call or are having trouble getting someone to take action, call Congaree Riverkeeper at 803-760-3357.
8. Avoid putting grease down your drains. Grease and fat from cooking can accumulate in our plumbing pipes and cause blockages in the sewer system. Sewer pipes blocked by grease can cause raw sewage to back up and overflow into our Rivers. Never pour grease down your drains. Instead, pour grease into a disposible container and throw into the trash. Or use paper towels to soak up grease from pots and pans and throw the paper towels in the trash. Scrape fat and grease from plates and cooking utensils directly into the trash. Learn more from the City of Columbia's Trash the Grease Program.