MI2020 finalizes watershed plan to submit to state

  • Thursday, February 13, 2014

Murrells Inlet 2020’s watershed plan got a final review Feb. 5 before the document is forwarded to the state.

The plan, which was developed as part of the organization’s watchdog duties to make the inlet a good place to live, work and visit, comes after nearly 16 months of water monitoring for pollutants that contribute to the closing of the creek’s oyster beds.

Stephen Williams, a new MI2020 board member, was instrumental in compiling the statistics, working closely with the council of governments, which did the actual document writing.

“This is not a regulatory document,” stressed Williams after the meeting.

“It is a guidance document that will help in developing bmps, or best management practices.

Sue Sledz, the organization’s executive director, said that in 2012, Dr. Susan Libes and Heather Young presented pictures from 2006 and 2011, that showed more oyster beds on the south end of the inlet were closed.

“Jim Wilkie and I were in a meeting and I specifically remember saying, ‘All right, explain that. Everyone blames development, yet why are the beds on the south end closing.’ And the answer was, ‘We really don’t know.’”

There is little development on the south end of the inlet.

Sledz said that in July of 2012, DHEC announced opening grant funding for developing a watershed plan, and MI2020 submitted grant application and was awarded a $67,000 grant of federal money to develop a plan.

In looking at the inlet, Williams said they discovered there were actually 53 separate subwatersheds within the inlet.

Sledz said that the group working on the plan tossed out early goals and set up new ones, the first of which was to identify the sources of fecal coliform, to strive to keep 80 percent of the oyster beds in the inlet remain open, and to increase everyone’s understanding. The plan is to go to the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control by Feb. 21, and a final report will be issued sometime after that.

Williams said it is complicated to identify watersheds in the inlet because the area is basically flat, and it’s hard to determine where the water is going.

“It’s easy in some of the upstate areas, because you know the water flows downhill. It’s not as apparent in a relatively flat area.”

He noted that pipes today carry water to various locations, and the researchers looked at the waters that flow into the creeks.

In other activity, Chairman Sean Bond agreed to oversee replacing the signage to add the Jetty View Walk to locators, as well as to clean and replace signs as needed;

Approved a lease for $1,000 a month for the MI2020 offices; and

Made tweaks to the organization’s logo.

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