Taking the plunge: Alumni fight for healthy state waterways as riverkeepers
Two South Carolina alumni are quickly becoming environmental champions.
"I plan to take a community approach to protecting the rivers."
In December, Mark Bruce and Alan Mehrzad were named riverkeepers. Each is a full-time advocate for a body of water--Bruce works to protect the water quality of the Santee River, and Mehrzad watches over the Congaree.
Water was his first love
"I grew up on Lake Marion, which is a reservoir of the Santee River, and I’ve been on the water all my life," says Bruce, a 1994 computer science graduate who loves to waterski and fish.
After working in a number of industries for about 15 years, Bruce returned home to start his own information technology firm. Back on the shores of Lake Marion, he was shocked by a serious decline in the lake’s water quality.
"The number one reason I got involved is because water quality had deteriorated to such a high degree," he says. "The conservation group American Rivers named the Santee one of the country’s most endangered rivers in a report four years ago, and I wanted to help change that."
Natural and man-made challenges
Bruce went through a rigorous application process to be come the Santee riverkeeper.
"I sent a 23-page application to the Waterkeeper Alliance, which is the national sanctioning body for riverkeepers," he says. "They wanted me to outline what I thought to be the issues in the watershed and how I would address those issues."