We are clean water advocates, working locally to protect our local rivers. It takes a lot of work to keep a river healthy. And it costs money. We need your help! It is only through gifts from friends like you that we can accomplish our goal of having healthy rivers throughout our watershed. The work is hard and there is much more to be done. We ask you, in the name of rivers everywhere, to consider a gift to assist us in protecting fishable, swimmable, drinkable water for our families and our future.
We are Winyah Rivers. Our mission: to protect, preserve, monitor and revitalize the health of the lands and waters of the greater Winyah Bay watershed.
Keeping our rivers healthy is the work of Winyah Rivers. We work in a large watershed that includes 5 rivers; the Waccamaw, Lumber-Little Pee Dee, Pee Dee, Lynches and Black Rivers. We call ourselves Winyah Rivers because these rivers ultimately discharge through the Winyah Bay estuary into the Atlantic Ocean. Our team tackles issues in each of these watersheds. In 2017 we pulled over 34 tons of trash from our local rivers, thanks to the efforts of 1,650 volunteers committing 6,600 hours of their time. We are working with community members to address issues that impact our waterways; mining activities, coal ash, factory farms, pipelines, and we hold polluters accountable.
We are Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER®. We protect clean water and healthy habitats in the Waccamaw watershed.
We employ a full-time Riverkeeper as a watchdog for the Waccamaw. Our Riverkeeper works with committed volunteers, our citizen scientists, to monitor water quality from Lake Waccamaw all along the Waccamaw; 18 sampling sites, 23 annual sampling dates, 9 sampling teams, over 400 results that inform us about the condition of our river, alert us to potential issues and enable us to address these concerns with the help of our network of stakeholders.
We are WATERKEEPER® ALLIANCE, united as one powerful force fighting for every community's right to drinkable, fishable, swimmable water.
With the collective strength of Waterkeeper Alliance and the backing of local communities, we hold polluters accountable. We're on the water tracking down polluters, in courtrooms enforcing environmental laws, advocating in town meetings and teaching in classrooms. We challenge introduced legislation and regulatory rollbacks that would undermine clean water protections. We believe in every community's right to clean water and speak up on behalf of our local rivers.
A little history...
Winyah Rivers Foundation was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in 2001, launching the Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER® Program (a member organization of WATERKEEPER® ALLIANCE), but our history began at least a few years before then.
In 1999, a joint meeting was held with the Winyah Group and the Cape Fear Group of the South Carolina and North Carolina Chapters of Sierra Club to discuss local issues, including a huge landfill planned for the Green Swamp, a large and important wetland near Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina. Barbara Postles, a member of the board of the South Carolina Chapter was instrumental in getting this effort going, as was Joy Pinson who took on a leadership role as the founder of Winyah Rivers Foundation.
Many, many others were also involved (apologies to those who are not named but please know that we are very appreciative!). One important participant was Rick Dove, longtime Waterkeeper (first as the Lower Neuse Riverkeeper in New Bern, NC, then and now with WATERKEEPER® ALLIANCE). Rick convinced these leaders to establish the Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER® Program in order to better advocate for the protection of the Waccamaw watershed and the other rivers of the greater Winyah Bay watershed.
A grassroots group of locals then went to work to educate the community on the importance of our local rivers and advocate for their protection. Our mission: to protect, preserve, monitor and revitalize the health of the lands and waters of the greater Winyah Bay watershed.
In 2002, Winyah Rivers hired its first Waccamaw Riverkeeper, Hampton Shuping. Hamp, well known on the river, one might even say a “river rat”, took on the job with gusto, working hard to raise awareness of issues, investigate pollution sources, recruit members and volunteers, and fundraise to support the organization’s good works. These efforts have continued through four additional Riverkeepers; Christine Ellis, Paula Reidhaar, Emma Gerald Boyer, and our current Riverkeeper Cara Schildtknecht who continues our 15 year history of education and advocacy for the protection of our local rivers.
Our grassroots organization has had many accomplishments along the way, including: fighting back the aforementioned regional landfill proposed for the Green Swamp; addressing pollution from river shacks through the enactment of SC legislation; administering a bi-state volunteer water quality monitoring program that has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally; establishing the nationally recognized Waccamaw River Blue Trail for recreation and conservation; engaging the community in river cleanups and the RIVERKEEPER® Adopt-a-Landing Program; promoting youth stewardship opportunities through our RIVERKEEPER® Challenge; successfully convincing Santee Cooper and Duke Energy to clean up coal ash at two former coal-fired power plants, on the Waccamaw and the Lumber; promoting land conservation including ownership of a 462 acre property on the Black River that will be developed into coastal South Carolina’s first public-use community forest; and proudly providing a voice for protection of our local rivers and the communities, both human and natural, that rely on them.
Of course these and other accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without the support of our members, our volunteers, our supporters and our partners who have provided not only financial support to sustain our organization but also local support within our communities by showing up, standing up and speaking up to protect clean water.
Our staff, members, volunteers and supporters continue to advance our mission and jump in with both feet to address the issues that face our local rivers. Each and every one remind us of the value of individual contributions towards our goals. Since 2001 we've been clean water advocates. Please consider joining us as a supporting member and help us continue to advance our vision of clean water and healthy communities for many years to come.