The Town of Bluffton completed another May River water quality improvement project and has been awarded another Clean Water Act grant from SCHDHEC to begin a third project from the May River Watershed Action Plan.

The May River Watershed Action Plan (MRWAP) was adopted in November 2011 as a guiding document for the restoration of shellfish harvesting within the headwaters of the May River, and includes many initiatives that have been funded with EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 funds as awarded by SCDHEC.

Since 2009, the Town has been awarded three Clean Water Act Section 319 Grants from SCDHEC totaling $1,004,850 to implement projects, programs and policies recommended within the May River Watershed Action Plan. Previous grant awards include the following:

  • 2009 – $483,500
  • 2012 – $290,000
  • 2016 – $231,350

The first grant award supported the completion of the New Riverside Pond project, updating our Unified Development Ordinance to be based upon watershed principles, developing a community engagement program, initiating a septic system maintenance assistance program, and distributing 175 rain barrels throughout the watershed.

The second grant supported the recently completed Pine Ridge Stormwater Volume Retrofit project, which was identified in the Action Plan as a priority project within the Rose Dhu Creek sub-basin.

This project involved a retrofit of existing stormwater ponds for re-use irrigation of open space in and around the Pine Ridge development and Town properties with stormwater, resulting in reduced stormwater volume reaching the May River.

The third and recently awarded grant will support the May River Preserve project, which was identified in the Action Plan as a priority project located in the Stoney Creek sub-basin. This project is expected to provide stormwater treatment within a nine-acre, seasonal, shallow pond adjacent to the May River Preserve development.

By installing a control structure, stormwater will pond behind an existing berm, thus allowing natural processes to remove pollutants and reduce the volume of stormwater runoff reaching the May River.

All of these programs, projects and policies support the Town’s 2017-2018 Strategic Plan – specifically, in the focus area of “The May River and Surrounding Rivers and Watersheds” as well as the following Guiding Principles:

  • Support initiatives, such as the May River Watershed Action Plan, to improve water quality of the May, Okatie-Colleton and New Rivers and their watersheds
  • Seek collaboration and partnerships that protect and improve the May, Okatie-Colleton and New Rivers and their watersheds.
  • Celebrate the May River and its heritage and importance to the community.

Lisa Sulka is the mayor of the Town of Bluffton.