The RRWQG executive committee met with regulators from the USEPA Region 4 and from SCDHEC August 25, 2017, in Greenville, SC to report the progress of the Group in advancing its schedule toward water quality compliance. Following the three-hour meeting, the six federal and state regulatory agency officials were taken on a walking tour along the Swamp Rabbit Trail of the downtown Reedy River, stopping at the Falls and the County monitoring station.
The executive committee, Assistant County Manager Paula Gucker, ReWa CEO Graham Rich, and City Engineering Director Dwayne Cooper filling in for Public Works Director Mike Murphy, updated the regulators on impactful committee decisions, such as: collaborating with Laurens Water and Sewer Commission and Greenwood County to extend the monitoring and modeling area into Lake Greenwood.
The WQR facilitation team presented reports from other committees. The regulators responded positively to the committee activities and commented particularly on the cooperation and collaboration among the diverse stakeholders: governmental groups, non-profit environmental groups, civic associations, and business and industry groups. The communication and listening aspects of the stakeholder participation is a measure of success for the 5R project, according to the USEPA representatives.
Highlights of the other committee reports included:
- Best Management Practices: completion of the EPA green infrastructure best practices check- list,
and recommendation of an increased riparian buffer.
- Economic Impact: contracting with Earth Economics to conduct the economic impact of water quality
and determine the asset value of the watershed, funded in part by contributions from stakeholder groups.
- Modeling: identification of data gaps for the model to be filled by the monitoring committee.
- Monitoring: completion of an improved data plan and field monitoring conducted in March- April 2017 and planned for September-October 2017.
- Public Outreach: enhanced social media program; conducting a survey of public perceptions about the Reedy River which will shape public messages; and a public outreach booth at the County, City, and ReWa facilities.
The walking tour of the Reedy River gave the regulators a sample of the way the City has showcased the river in its urban development, attracting citizens and visitors to the river. As the regulators agreed, that attraction and access is the best way to motivate the public to protect water quality. The group was met at the end of the tour with the County van, wrapped with water quality protection messages.