2023 Bacteria Blitz

You are invited to join millions of people across the globe in sampling your local waters for World Water Monitoring Day! Since 2003, people across the world have been participating in the global education outreach program sponsored by EarthEcho International. Aiming to build public awareness and involvement in protecting water resources, the program empowers citizens to perform basic monitoring of their local water bodies.  

On September 16th, we are inviting you to celebrate World Water Monitoring Day with us by participating in water monitoring in your local area of the greater Winyah Bay watershed. Whether you sample a river, a tributary, a pond, or a swamp, we want you to help us collect data! Become part of worldwide event monitoring water quality all over the globe and join the Bacteria Blitz! Our goal this year is to collect 70 bacteria samples from across the 7 rivers of our watershed! 

During the Bacteria Blitz, we are going to be testing for E.coli. We use the bacteria as our indicator species when testing for our Swim Guide program to give guidance on whether it is safe to swim. We need your help to test all over the watershed.  Our partners at EarthEcho International have also provided us with kits for testing temperature, pH, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity of the water at your selected site. These are limited, so make sure to register now and claim for your monitoring kit along with your sampling location! The more data we can collect, the better!

Learn More!

Bacteria Blitz Results

All About E. coli!

Where in the Watershed?

Join the Bacteria Blitz

Bacteria Blitz Results

On September 16th, 53 volunteers participated in the 2023 Bacteria Blitz all across the greater Winyah Bay watershed! Our Bacteria Blitzers collected a total of 75 samples which were then analyzed for E. coli concentrations to determine whether sites passed the water quality standard for freshwater.

Of the 75 samples analyzed, 69 passed the water quality standard. That’s a 92% pass rate across the watershed! The 6 samples that failed the water quality standard were distributed throughout the watershed. While exceeding the water quality standard, the samples seemed to indicate low pollution levels resulting from wildlife increased by nearby land use.

The results of the Bacteria Blitz were reported via a webinar hosted on World Water Monitoring Day. But if you missed the webinar, you can still check out the results. We have several options for viewing the results:

View the recording of the Bacteria Blitz webinar!
View the webinar slides as a PDF!
View the results in a short report!
View the results on a map!

All About E. coli!

Why E. coli?

We all want to know whether the water we use for swimming, fishing, and drinking is safe. One of the best ways to determine that is test for E. coli. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends using the bacteria as an indicator for other harmful bacteria and viruses that could be in our waterways. E. coli is an indicator for fecal contamination – or poop – in water. We all have E. coli in our guts and it is excreted through our digestive system when we poop. But if it’s in the water, that could mean other harmful bacteria could be in the water as well.

We use the concentration of E. coli in water samples to determine the level of risk a person might take when using those waters for recreation. If the concentration is low, a person should be relatively safe to go swimming. But if the concentration is higher, the risk of becoming sick due to a pathogen is higher. This is why we use E. coli for our Swim Guide program in the summer. We want you to know how safe it is to swim in your local rivers! You can learn more about the Winyah Rivers Swim Guide Program here.

Collecting additional data like temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, and turbidity help us to better understand what is going on in the water. If we have high bacteria, your Clean Water Team will need to investigate. Having all the information available makes that job a lot easier.

Meet Evie!

Allow us to introduce our friend, Evie Coli! Evie, or E., is an E. coli bacteria. She is an indicator species for potentially harmful pathogens in our waterways. While she might not make you sick, when she’s around you can assume there has been some fecal contamination in the water. Evie lives in our digestive system along with other pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses, and protozoans. If she is in the water, they might be, too! We use Evie to evaluate whether the water is safe for recreation.

Where in the Watershed?

Greater Winyah Bay Watershed

We will be focusing on all seven rivers of the entire greater Winyah Bay watershed for our World Water Monitoring Day event. A watershed is an area of land where all the water – including rain, streams, and rivers – all drain to a common outlet. The greater Winyah Bay watershed – also called the Lower Pee Dee basin – drains an area of 11,700 square miles in North and South Carolina.

The Waccamaw, Lumber, Little Pee Dee, Great Pee Dee, Lynches, Black, and Sampit Rivers are part of the lower Pee Dee Basin. All of seven of these rivers empty into Winyah Bay, the third largest estuary on the East Coast.

Where To Sample

There are lots of places you can sample in the greater Winyah Bay watershed! River landings make a great location to sample. They are safe, public, and easily accessible. Check out our map of boat landings across the watershed below for ideas on where to sample! Our hubs for pick up and drop off are also on the map.

But you don’t have to sample one of our sites! You can sample water anywhere within the watershed! Is there a stream, creek, or canal nearby that you have always been curious about? Do you have a favorite swamp? Is your favorite landing not on our list? Those are great sampling sites, too! You can coordinate with the our Clean Water Team to sample wherever you want in the watershed!

Site Selection

Please be sure to select a site that is safe for you to sample! Some things to consider are:

If you are unsure about your site, our Clean Water Team is happy to discuss it with you! Contact us!

For the Waccamaw River watershed contact Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw RIVERKEEPERⓇ

For the Lumber River watershed contact Jeff Currie, Lumber Riverkeeper

For the Black & Sampit River watersheds contact Erin Donmoyer, Black-Sampit RIVERKEEPERⓇ

For the Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, & Lynches River watersheds contact Dylan Coleman, Pee Dee/Lynches Rivers Project Coordinator

Join the Bacteria Blitz!

Anyone can participate and getting involved is easy! We will give you all the supplies and information you need to collect a sample and get it to the our Clean Water Team for analysis. Here is how you can get involved in 5 easy steps!

Step 1. Register!

Use our Online Registration Form to register and claim your sampling location in the greater Winyah Bay watershed by Monday, September 11th! You can sample at one of our regular sampling locations, a backyard tributary, or a favorite swamp! As long as your site falls within the greater Winyah Bay watershed, you can sample it! Not sure where you want to sample? No worries! Our Clean Water Team can help you find a site that works for you!

Step 2. Pick Up!

Pick up your sampling kit from one of our hubs between Wednesday, September 13th through Friday, September 15th. We will give you everything you need all together in a totally awesome cooler you get to keep! Sample bottles, gloves, ziploc, data sheet, instructions, marker, and pen will all be included! You can pick your kit up at our one of our hubs located throughout the watershed.

Step 3. Collect Sample!

Collect your water sample between 8:00 am – 10:00 am on Saturday, September 16th. We will provide you with instructions on how to properly collect the sample. It’s important that you collect your sample in this time frame because E. coli deteriorates in heat and sunlight. Let’s grab those samples early to get the most accurate results!

Step 4. Drop Off!

Return your sample to one of our collection hubs before noon on Saturday, September 16th. We will have hubs set up throughout the watershed as easily accessible locations. A staff member or volunteer will collect your sample and then transport them to our lab for analysis. We have to have the samples quick to make sure we get them processed within 8 hours of sampling!

Step 5. Tune in!

Tune in virtually on Monday, September 18th at 5:30 pm to hear the results of your sampling and learn what the results mean for the watershed. We will also have our raffle drawing to see who wins the raffle prize! This is also an opportunity to ask your Clean Water Team about the watershed and why this testing is so important. Click here to join the webinar on Zoom!

We Hope You’ll Join Us!

We hope you will join us and millions of other citizen scientists celebrating World Water Monitoring Day! Participants will receive a free cooler with their sampling kit and will be entered into a raffle to win a Bacteria Blitz Prize! But the best reward will be seeing how your data can help us protect swimmable, fishable, drinkable water in the greater Winyah Bay watershed! 

Contact your local Clean Water Team member with any questions about how you can get involved on World Water Monitoring Day or any day of the year!

For the Waccamaw River watershed contact Cara Schildtknecht, Waccamaw RIVERKEEPERⓇ

For the Lumber River watershed contact Jeff Currie, Lumber Riverkeeper

For the Black & Sampit River watersheds contact Erin Donmoyer, Black-Sampit RIVERKEEPERⓇ

For the Great Pee Dee, Little Pee Dee, & Lynches River watersheds contact Dylan Coleman, Pee Dee/Lynches Rivers Project Coordinator

Winyah Rivers Alliance

P.O. Box 554
Conway, SC 29528
843 .349 .4007

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