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Institute for Clean Water

  • Kayaks on the side of the river beneath the Columbia, South Carolina skyline

SC Impact

This research will have a positive on the understanding of water quality and new ways to manage risks to ecosystems across South Carolina. While this is a state-wide research focus, certain areas of public interest will benefit greatly from this institute's work. 

Better Water Quality Understanding for Better Life in South Carolina

Water quality is vital to the health and well-being of all South Carolinians and the state's visitors. Whether we are drinking it, using it for recreation, harnessing its power for industry or living beside it, water impacts almost every aspect of life as we know it.

Specific Benefits to the State

The research this institute is conducting will benefit the state as a whole through these priority areas of health, industry and everyday life in South Carolina.

Increased Awareness of Water Quality Issues

Deforestation, construction of new communities and industrialization contribute to contamination of our state's water. But not all unsafe water looks unsafe.

Contamination—visible or non-visible—can include nutrients, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, commercial byproducts, viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Increases in state population and urbanization have had profound influences on water quality through increased runoff from biological and commercial factors in developed and developing areas. 

It has traditionally been difficult to sample and maintain water quality at such a fine level as individual subdivision developments, neighborhoods, creeks, ditches and other small waterways.

This research will lead to deeper and broader understanding of the water quality in our state while also seeking to educate the public about the safety and quality of water where they live, work and play.

Wildlife and Aquatic Ecosystems

Our water sources should sustain life in South Carolina, not endanger it. Micro-organisms effected by water quality make up the base of our food web and therefore all ecosystems in our state.

A number of factors can lead to poor water quality across our state and in our local communities. These can include chemicals from commercial enterprises, run-off caused by construction projects and natural disruptive contaminants, like toxic algae.

Left unchecked, these factors can lead to serious health issues and even fatalities for wildlife, pets and people. Even when the worst-case scenario doesn't arise, these factors can leave water bodies unsuitable for consumption and recreation. 

Developing better water quality measuring, mitigation and management strategies will ensure that wildlife and aquatic ecosystems in South Carolina remain healthy, supported and safe. 

Understanding the health of aquatic ecosystems leads to maintaining the health of animals and humans in water and on land. This research will help protect our local wildlife and aquatic ecosystems, enabling them to thrive. 

Tourism and Economic Development

Tourism adds approximately $29 billion to our state's economy annually, according to the South Carolina Deptarment of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. This tourism relies heavily on aquatic recreation and local businesses that require water to operate.

Our many popular tourist destinations draw countless visitors each year from across the country and the globe. Public perceptions of citizens and visitors about the cleanliness of water are variable and dynamic, and may or may not be based on scientific fact. Regardless, these perceptions influence their behavior, which in turn affects our state's population dynamics, land use, tourism, business health and overall economy.

Water quality has unseen impacts on our local businesses, including those in food, beverage and hospitality. Potable water is needed to produce consumables that propel our tourism and economy. 

This research will seek to understand the differences between objective measures of water quality and subjective perceptions, which will aid tourism and industry for the advancement of our state's economic development. 

Environmental Awareness

The better we understand water quality, the better we can help the general public become more aware of its important part in our state's environment. From citizen scientists to those just becoming acquainted with environmental awareness, there is much we can learn about protecting our waterways. 

Everyone plays a role in water maintenance and understanding. With proper knowledge of the contributing factors to water quality and current public opinion about water cleanliness across the state, we can close the gap between public perception and the realities of the water bodies that make up such a large part of South Carolina's environmental health. 

To that end, this institute will develop tools that make water sampling easier all over the state, including areas that historically have been difficult to sample. As we learn more about these areas, we can help South Carolina citizens better understand water quality in their own backyards. 

This research will raise overall awareness about the effects of water quality on the environment and why it is so important to protect our waterways as a state.


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Institute for Clean Water

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