Municipalities, regulatory agencies, and resource advocacy organizations are often tasked with the enormous responsibility of monitoring water quality and implementing management strategies for vast areas within their jurisdictions. A potential means for addressing the resulting sampling shortfall is the use of volunteer monitoring programs. The project reported herein demonstrates the use of QA/QC protocols developed by Georgia Adopt-a-Stream (AAS) to monitor water quality issues for Twelve Mile Creek located in Pickens County, SC. The Twelve Mile watershed has a storied past as a U.S. EPA Superfund site due to industrial PCB contamination. Recent mitigation efforts involving the removal of two concrete dams have resulted in the creation of a nearly two-mile section of whitewater which is used by the local paddling community and is being marketed as a recreational destination. However, the Twelve Mile watershed also has a TMDL Implementation Plan in place due to chronic impairment from fecal coliform bacteria.

Using sampling and monitoring methods developed by AAS, this project determined that E. coli levels increase significantly during high-flow discharges due to storm events and there were no significant differences in E. coli concentrations among sites located along a longitudinal gradient following the proposed Twelve Mile Creek Blueway. Ironically, the popularity of this area for paddling increases during periods of high discharge, thus recreational users are likely exposed to unhealthy levels of bacteria under these “desirable” conditions.

Volunteer monitoring programs like AAS exhibit tremendous potential for gathering water quality data that may not be possible if left solely up to other stakeholders. Appropriately managed volunteer monitoring programs have the capability to increase the resolution, reach, and efficiency of existing monitoring programs and serve to benefit a variety of stakeholders.