SWEEPS ACROSS SOUTH CAROLINA is a partnership between the S.C. Aquarium, the S.C. Floodwater Commission, and SC7
By W. Thomas Smith Jr.
The South Carolina Aquarium has partnered with the S.C. Floodwater Commission and the SC7 Expedition for SWEEPS ACROSS SOUTH CAROLINA, a year-long litter clean-up (sweeps) initiative directed by the three entities but with augmented participation from local organizations in a given sweeps-targeted area. The first two months are in the books with successful clean-ups having already been held along the coasts and inland areas of Charleston and Hilton Head.
According to the S.C. Aquarium, plastic pollution and other litter have increased across riverine and other low-lying areas of the Palmetto State. This combined with frequent flooding caused by heavy rains, storm surge, and higher-than-normal tides is threatening the state’s watersheds and flood-prone coastal and inland communities.
“Cleaning our creeks, streams and rivers should be a priority for communities across our beautiful state,” says S.C. Floodwater Commission Chair Tom Mullikin, who serves on the board of the S.C. Aquarium. “The litter and debris are restricting the natural flow of water from the mountains to the sea which manifests in flooding. Not to mention the fact that the household hazard waste of gas, paint thinners, radiator fluids and all sorts of plastics are also creating a health care crisis as these hazards enter into our drinking water through wells and food chains through fish and wildlife.”
Mullikin adds, “We encourage communities to join our efforts to clean and protect the environment that we inherited and hold as stewards for future generations.”
Each month, representatives from the S.C. Aquarium, the S.C. Floodwater Commission and SC7 are traveling to different regions of the state. Working together with local leaders and organizations that help identify an appropriate location for that month’s socially distanced litter sweep, the clean-up team collects the trash which is then cataloged and entered into the Litter-Free Digital Journal (LFDJ), a project of the Aquarium’s Citizen Science app. The LFDJ project allows individuals and groups to track the types of debris being collected and provides data that is critical to understanding the most harmful types of litter.
“We are excited to partner with the South Carolina Floodwater Commission and SC7 for Sweeps Across South Carolina,” says Kelly Thorvalson, conservation programs manager at the S.C. Aquarium. “This joint initiative will draw attention to litter and plastic pollution and serve as an important reminder that we are all connected through the intricate web of waterways that are the lifeblood of our state.”
Monthly Sweeps have already been held in Charleston (Jan. 21) and Hilton Head (Feb. 9) with Sweeps slated statewide through Dec. 2021.
The next Sweep will be held in Camden, Thurs., Mar. 18. This will be followed by Sweeps in Spartanburg, Apr. 15; Georgetown, May 20; and Columbia, June 17.
A Sweep as part of the second-annual SC7 Expedition will be held on July 15 at a soon-to-be determined point in the expedition where the SC7 participants will be hiking.
Sweeps following the SC7 Expedition will include Greenville, Aug. 19; Edisto, Sept. 16; the Pee Dee (either Marion or Florence), Oct. 21; a return to Camden, Nov.16; and Charleston (a Christmas Sweep with Beach Santa), Dec. 16.
The non-profit SOUTH CAROLINA AQUARIUM is Charleston’s #1 family attraction and features thousands of aquatic animals from river otters and sharks to loggerhead sea turtles and fish in more than 60 exhibits representing the rich biodiversity of S.C.
The S.C. FLOODWATER COMMISSION is a gubernatorially established organization composed of 10 task forces that work to identify and implement short-term and long-term recommendations to alleviate and mitigate flood impacts to the state.
The SC7 EXPEDITION is an annual trek closely following the Palmetto Trail from the mountains to the sea. The expedition, held in July, showcases the seven geographic wonders (the SC7) as well as other natural marvels unique to the Palmetto State.
[Pictured – S.C. Floodwater Commission Chairman Mullikin during Hilton Head Sweep, Feb. 9.]