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Charleston Waterkeeper

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Water, Water Resources, Wetlands Conservation & Management

Mission: Charleston waterkeeper's sole focus is protecting the ashley/cooper river basin. Each of our programs is designed to provide us with the data and documentation necessary to identify the issues impacting our right to swimmable, drinkable, fishable water.

Programs: The ashley/cooper river basin. Our programs monitor local waterways, investigate pollution incidents, and support scientific and other research activity. We actively engage with members of the public to educate communities about water pollution issues and the public's right to clean water.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

I am aware that this review is not focused on your organization. I only post it to remind you and your supporters that greed is everywhere and needs to be reigned in.


In Horry County South Carolina we are blessed with many things that make life well worth living. A beautiful Ocean, now protected from the threat of Off Shore Oil Drilling, Wonderful Weather, Great Friends and Neighbors, Low Taxes, and plenty of Natural Beauty.

However there is one aspect of life in this area that deeply troubles many of us, the incessant rantings and disruption of a foreign organization that has no offices, employees, board members, or interest in Horry County (other than telling us how to conduct our business).

The Charleston based Coastal Conservation League, with offices in Georgetown and Beaufort has taken it upon itself to disrupt our lives by demanding “It’s Their Way or No Highway”.

Our County “Riding on a Penny” I & II programs have been threatened and delayed by the CCL’s nit picking, which has cost Horry Taxpayers over 20 million dollars in Redesign, Construction Cost Delay Increases and Legal Fees. Horry residents are currently being asked to suggest new projects and approve a “Riding on a Penny” III program, which will most likely find several objections coming from the CCL.

This organization of obstructionists, along with their legal arm the SC Environmental Law Project has so far hindered construction of Routes 31 South, the expansion of 707, and the paving of International Drive from Carolina Forrest to Route 90 among others. The CCL & SCELP also have their greedy eyes on Improvements to the Buckport Marina, owned our Water & Sewer Company (Grand Strand), the I-73 project from Interstate 95 to Myrtle Beach, the northern extension of 31 to the North Carolina border and who knows how many other transportation improvements needed to make our roads safer and travel more efficient.

The worst part of the whole situation is that these obstructionists pay no state taxes, yet make frequent use of our state taxpayer funded Court System to hold up much needed projects. They act like spoiled children if their ridiculous demands, including tribute in the form of mitigation demands are not met.

The CCL & SCELP can easily and inexpensively file with the Courts if they feel slighted, and have done so many times. It’s time on a State and National level that Legislation be proposed and enacted making these organizations pay a fair share of the costs to taxpayers when these often bogus lawsuits are filed.

Enough is Enough!

Scott Dilliard lives in a community 1 mile north on Route 90 from the proposed Rt. 90 entrance to International Drive, which has been held up for 8 years due to other Ride 2 Project delays and for the past 2 years by obstruction from the Coastal Conservation League & now the South Carolina Environmental Law Project


Rating: 5

As a donor, volunteer and Charleston County resident, I support Charleston Waterkeeper and the work they do. Their commitment to standing up for our waterways and educating the public on the importance of caring about Charleston's waterways is needed and much appreciated. Keep doing great work and pushing our city to preserve our natural habitats!

Review from Guidestar


Rating: 5

Very impressive organization. Amazing to see the depth of programs given the size of the team. Fortunate to have a talented and motivated staff.

Needs more support.

Review from Guidestar

Board Member

Rating: 5

As Chair of the Board, I have the great pleasure of working with exceptional, knowledgeable staff, a committed and giving board and a supportive base of volunteers and community members to further the work of Charleston Waterkeeper. As a young non-profit, we are extremely proud of the breadth and depth of our programmatic work, which is rooted in data gathered in our Water Quality Monitoring and Patrol Programs and extends to our educational and outreach initiatives. A member of the international Waterkeeper Alliance organization, we are dedicated to protecting and preserving Charleston's waterways, and to promoting the public's right to clean water.

Review from Guidestar



Rating: 4

True supporters see the impact and quality of people working tirelessly behind the scene and on the water to attain the mission of protecting and promoting the public's right to swimmable, fishable, and drinkable water. The organization was filing all donations under the national Waterkeeper Alliance section 501(c)(3). They corrected the organizations filing in early 2014 and retro dated their tax exempt status back to 2011. Below are the 4 functioning programs they have put in place and operate successfully to protect the public's right clean water. Without passionate, water enthusiasts and loyal supporters they would not be able to protect Charleston waterways.

1-The Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program regularly tests the “swimmability” of several local tidal creeks and hotspots for activities like swimming, SUPing, and sailing. From May through October, samples are collected weekly and analyzed for the amount of Enterococcus bacteria present. Testing results are published as soon as they are available, so you can make an informed decision about when and where you swim, SUP, kayak, and sail. Follow them on facebook, instagram or twitter to get same day results.

All data is collected and generated under a DHEC approved Quality Assurance Project Plan. Samples are analyzed at the College of Charleston’s Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences’s Hydrochemistry Research Laboratory which is certified by DHEC to test for Enterococcus bacteria.

2-Charleston Waterkeeper just had the 1yr anniversary of their Pumpout Program. To offer a mobile pumpout service in the lower Charleston Harbor. The pumpout boat, the Number 2, will come to your slip or location at anchorage and pump out your onboard sanitary waste holding tank. The Mobile Pumpout Program provides boaters with a free, convenient, and legal way to dispose of sewage from sanitary waste tanks. As of January 1, 2015 the Number 2 has pumped 12,500 gallons of waste water from private boats.

3-Charleston Waterkeeper’s Patrol Program is the on-the-water eyes and ears of the Ashley/Cooper River Basin. Once per month the Lady C and program staff patrol an “area of interest” in the watershed and conduct a visual survey of water quality and habitat conditions. Areas of interest are identified through local knowledge, research, satellite photography, and our Recreational Water Quality Monitoring, Permit Watchdog, and Mobile Pumpout Programs. To alert Charleston Waterkeeper to a potential area of interest please contact them via email or call (843) 670-3390.

Any problems encountered during a patrol are documented and reported to the appropriate authority such as the United States Coast Guard, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. After each patrol they publish a blog post with photos of what they found in the field.

4-Permit Watchdog Program monitors the issuance permits and the compliance history of permit holders in the Charleston Harbor Watershed. Twice per year the program selects a group of permit holders and conducts and in-depth examination of their permit and monitoring data. When issues are discovered they reach out to the permit holder. Then they work to ensure the problem has been identified and fixed and that a plan exists to prevent reoccurrence. If the permit holder, DHEC, and EPA won’t act to ensure compliance with permit limits, the Clean Water Act authorizes Charleston Waterkeeper to enforce the permit in court.

The Permit Watchdog Program also regularly researches, drafts, and submits public comment letters to DHEC and the Army Corps of Engineers during the permit development and drafting process. By participating in the public comment process Charleston Waterkeeper works to improve the quality of the permits issued in our watershed.


General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

As one of the original supporters of Charleston Waterkeeper who attended the meetings that led to their eventual affiliation with the Waterkeeper Alliance I have followed the organizations progress closely. Although promising at first after several years of projects not followed up on, projects that never came to fruition or results of "testing" that are not published the lack of progress has been discouraging. The Charleston Waterkeeper has been prodigious at fund raising though, Just not with results that effect water quality.

After investigating further it was with dismay that I discovered they have had their IRS 501c3 status revoked for non filing...ever! Though the founded date on Guidstar says 2011 the Charleston Waterkeeper was formed in 2008 with zero filings. Repeated requests for financial transparency and disclosure to supporters and donors have gone unanswered though fundraising has continued.

The BOD is packed with real estate and business interests despite the fact that at least one scientist, that I personally know of, with a long distinguished career dedicated to local and statewide water quality testing was asked by Charleston Waterkeeper and volunteered to serve on the BOD yet was never seated.