Grateful in the South

We at Winyah Rivers are so grateful. We are grateful for the abundance of riches our local rivers provide us. We are grateful for clean drinking water sourced from our rivers and underlying aquifers. We are grateful for the diversity of animal and plant life that our rivers and wetlands support. We are grateful for the recreational opportunities we, boating, birding, swimming, etc. But most of all we are grateful to you for your support of our nonprofit, its mission and programs to protect clean water for our families and our future. We wish you a very happy Thanksgiving, surrounded by family and friends, and enjoying all that our area's water resources have to offer.

Your team at Winyah Rivers...

Christine Ellis, Cara Schildtknecht, April O'Leary, Jeff Currie, Emma Boyer, Lisa Swanger

Board of Directors - Ron Hartman, Clay Swenson, Michelle Lewis, Jessie White, Tom Badgett, Debra Buffkin, Reggie Daves, Dee Duffy, Dan Hitchcock, Joe Jacobs, Greg Mitchell, Richard Moore, Bob Moran, Doug Smith, Martha Smith, Leslie Wilson


Protecting Clean Water on the Waccamaw 

By Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw Riverkeeper 

2018 has been another successful year of our Waccamaw Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program. In 2018, our volunteers sampled on 17 dates at 18 sites collecting more than 300 water samples. Our water quality monitoring volunteers are some of the most dedicated citizen scientists in the area. They donate their Wednesday mornings twice a month year round. They brave the rain, the cold, and the humidity to sample water quality.

While we can attempt to put a real dollar amount on their time – valued at more than $17,000 – their work is truly invaluable. The data collected helps us better understand the water chemistry of our beautiful blackwater river. With more than 12 years of data, we are able to determine what is normal for the river. When a team detects an abnormal reading based on that data we are able to inform local agencies of a potential problem, investigate the problem, and sometimes determine the source of the problem. Without these incredible volunteers, we would be unable to monitor water quality throughout the entire length of the Waccamaw watershed.

If you are interested in learning more about our program and how to get involved, please join us on November 9th from 1:00pm-4:00pm for the Waccamaw Water Quality Data Conference in room 300 at Coastal Carolina University’s Coastal Science Center (301 Allied Drive, Conway). You can also learn more by visiting the Waccamaw Watershed Academy webpage or emailing your Waccamaw Riverkeeper at

Photo by Ken Taylor

Protecting the Wild & Scenic Lumber River

By Jeff Currie, Lumber River Advocate

Recent flooding has resulted in additional monitoring efforts to identify pollutants and their sources. We were on the ground and in the air immediately after Hurricane Florence made landfall and have been investigating and monitoring water quality with various partners ever since. Protecting water quality is of critical concern to the communities that rely on clean water for drinking and recreation.

Our work on the Lumber River began in earnest in 2013 with our advocacy to clean up coal ash at the former Weatherspoon Power Plant. Duke Energy agreed to clean up its coal ash adjacent to Jacob Swamp, a tributary of the Lumber, and excavation commenced in Fall 2017 with removal to recycling facilities located in SC. We continue to monitor activities there and support our partners in their efforts to clean up coal ash statewide.

Since 2014, we have advocated against the risky and unnecessary Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), an interstate pipeline proposed to carry fracked gas from northeastern states through WV, VA and NC. We continue our advocacy, including legal challenges and community actions to stop the ACP. November brings the launch of the NC Pipeline Watch Program, training local citizens to identify and report on issues that might otherwise go unnoticed during site preparation and pipeline construction. During recent flooding, a number of issues associated with the instate Piedmont Pipeline were discovered, illustrative of the potential impacts of the ACP.

Working with our Waterkeeper colleagues, we advocate to stop pollution caused by the concentration, lax regulation, and destructive waste disposal practices of industrialized livestock operations. In Robeson County alone, more than 7.5 M animals are confined in industrial meat production facilities. There are over 285 K hogs/pigs producing more than 364 M gallons/year of waste, held in 67 "lagoons" then sprayed onto nearby fields. Because there is a 20 year old moratorium on hog lagoons, no new lagoon and sprayfield activities have been approved; however, neither has there been the required investment in superior environmental technology to address hog waste pollution. The current proposal by the world's largest hog producer, Smithfield (WH Group), to convert swine waste to energy using covers and digesters fails to address hog waste pollution. It won't prevent nutrients and pathogens from seeping into groundwater from these unlined cesspools. It won't prevent the harm to our waters caused when waste is spewed onto nearby fields, often in low-lying flood-prone areas, and it won't eliminate the stench endured by nearby residents. So we continue our advocacy to stop pollution by pushing these corporations to implement superior environmental technology for treatment of hog urine and feces.

Meanwhile, poultry CAFOs are proliferating, virtually unregulated. There are over 7.2 M poultry, producing more than 56 tons/year of dry waste, also applied to area fields where the potential for runoff is high. We are working with community members to advocate for greater transparency in siting decisions and concerns about water pollution caused by runoff from land application fields.

There is a better traditional family farmers who raise livestock for meat in a sustainable way and do not harm our waterways and our communities. NC's Waterkeepers are working to build these partnerships and promote sustainable meat production.

Photo by Charlie Peek


Our SC Scenic Rivers - Black, Lynches, Pee Dee-Little Pee Rivers

Black River - A 75 mile segment, from State Road 40 Bridge (June Burn Road) in Clarendon County, through Williamsburg County, and ending at Pea House Landing in Georgetown County, was designated a State Scenic River in 2001. Our Board Treasurer, Michelle Lewis, is actively involved in the Black Scenic River Advisory Council, reactivated in 2018, to promote stewardship and long range planning for sustainability of the river and its habitats. On the Black River in the Choppee area, Winyah Rivers owns the 462 acre Rocky Point property, and is working with our partners, including Georgetown County Parks and Recreation, to develop it into coastal South Carolina's first public use community forest as well as returning to public access its boat launch as well as hiking and biking trails. In addition, we continue our advocacy against a proposed limestone mine site located in the Earle Community approximately 5 miles northwest of the Town of Andrews.

Lynches River - Representing the longest state designated scenic river (~102 miles), the upper section was designated a State Scenic River in 1994 followed by its lower section in 2008.  Winyah Rivers continues to be involved in oversight associated with open pit gold mining at OceanaGold's Haile Operation located near Kershaw. We serve on the Lynches River Conservation Board, helping to administer funding for land conservation/acquisition in this watershed.

Pee Dee - Little Pee Dee Rivers - A combined 132 river miles have been designated, including the lower 70 mile segment of the Great Pee Dee (from Hwy 378 bridge crossing between Florence and Marion Counties to the Hwy 17 bridge at Winyah Bay in Georgetown County), ~14 miles of the Little Pee Dee River (from Hwy 378 bridge to its confluence with the Great Pee Dee River, and a 48 mile section further upstream on the Little Pee Dee in Dillon County. An additional 64 mile section of the Little Pee Dee River was determined eligible for scenic river status but was never officially designated. Our work on these rivers includes source water protection efforts, land conservation priorities, and advocacy, including ongoing investigations into pollution caused during recent flood events.

Photo by William Toler

Impact of Everyday Citizens


1,538 volunteers collected 40 tons of discarded waste from our rivers, river banks, beaches, wetlands and swamps through Winyah Rivers Foundation’s Adopt-A-Landing RIVERKEEPER® program and Cleanup Our Local Waterways. This dedicated group of community stewards volunteered at 130 cleanups and committed 6,000 hours to protect your rivers and your wildlife from pollution. They have proudly cleaned over 400 river miles and work closely with Winyah Rivers to ensure our rivers, our wildlife and our families remain healthy. Winyah Rivers' RIVERKEEPER® program empowers local citizens to minimize the impact of threats to our rivers; through conservation, ecotourism, advocacy and community stewardship by empowering local citizens to minimize the impact of development, build environmental and cultural awareness and respect, provide positive experiences for locals and visitors, advocate for the financial benefits of conservation and empowerment for our local citizens.