Overview – The James Island Public Service District is committed to improving the water quality in James Island Creek. SCDHEC (South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control) has designated James Island Creek as an “impaired waterway.” The James Island Creek TMDL was completed in November, 2019. The three local governments responsible for stormwater management in the James Island Creek Watershed, the Town of James Island, Charleston County, and the City of Charleston, are mandated to monitor bacteria levels in the creek and develop an action plan during the next five years. This mandate is directly from SCDHEC, but indirectly from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Failure to comply can result in multi-million dollar fines for local governments. Creation of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) for a joint response began early on and was signed in December 2020. The County has hired a consultant, Wolpert Engineering to provide monitoring. They will test the water each month and an additional four times each year after heavy rains. Also, they will use microbial source testing four times each year to identify the waste–human, pet, or wildlife. The Town, City, and County pay for this testing in proportion to our area of jurisdiction in the watershed, roughly 58% City, 34% Town, and 8% County.
In February 2020, the local governments formed the James Island Creek Water Quality Task Force. The body includes elected officials from the Town, City, and County, key staff members from those local governments, as well as elected officials and staff members from the James Island Public Service District and the Charleston Water System. State elected officials are represented. Also, representatives from conservation groups such as Waterkeeper and Coastal Conservation League are included. The Chairman is Mayor John Tecklenburg of the City and Mayor Woolsey of the Town serves as vice Chair.
The Education and Citizen Outreach Committee, chaired by Waterkeeper Andrew Wunderley, will share information to residents about how they can help clean our creek and about what the task force and local governments are doing on their behalf. The Town, County and City all contribute stormwater utility monies paid by our residents to help fund the Ashley Cooper Education Consortium. Operated by Clemson University’s Extension Service, the consortium provides a wealth of information about managing stormwater and protecting our marshes and creeks.
The Policy Committee, chaired by Charleston City Councilman Ross Appel, initiated a Watershed Plan which was provided at no cost by Terracon All James Islanders owe this public-spirited engineering firm a hearty thanks for helping clean our creek. The James Island Creek Watershed Plan was completed in May 2021. It has been approved by SCDHEC and will go to the full task force for a recommendation for adoption by the Town, City, and County Councils. Also Charleston Water System funded molecular source testing for the first time this spring (March and May of 2021.) Working with Charleston Waterkeeper, their limited sampling revealed that the human DNA concentration was by far greater than the other source types analyzed. While the test results are by no means conclusive, they do indicate that human waste is indeed a factor and contributor to the pollution in the James Island Creek.
More information, including community meeting dates, will be provided on this page as the project gets underway.
Town of James Island Information:
Clean James Island Creek