What’s the scoop on poop? The 2020 Waccamaw Conference got to the bottom of this question with this year’s theme: “Fecal Matters: The Ins and Outs of Poop in Our Watershed.” The Waccamaw Conference is an annual educational conference for the public focused on the importance of our natural water resources and efforts to protect them. The conference is co-hosted by the Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER® Program of Winyah Rivers Foundation, North Inlet – Winyah Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium, and Horry County Museum.
Over 150 participants of all ages learned about the sources and impacts of poop in the Winyah Bay watershed and what they can do to help. The conference featured speakers, exhibitors, and a student poster contest focused on the topics of pet and wildlife waste, stormwater runoff, farming operations, septic systems and more. Over 50 students of all ages submitted art and science posters in the competition. This year’s keynote address was given by Dr. Susan Libes, professor of marine science at Coastal Carolina University and the founding Director of the Waccamaw Watershed Academy. Dr. Libes explained the causes and impacts of poop that enters waterways and shared research on local waterways with data collected by water quality monitoring volunteers.
Over 15 local organizations and companies hosted exhibitor booths at the conference. Participants could learn about local wildlife and pet a snake with rangers from Huntington Beach State Park or they could find out about upcoming events to get outside and on the water with Black River Outdoors. Goose Masters, a premier goose control service company, brought one of their hardworking employees – Tenly, the Border Collie. Tenly and her fellow dog colleagues work hard to prevent goose poo-llution entering our waterways. The North Inlet – Winyah Bay NERR was there to provide education about estuary environments and the Reserve’s water quality monitoring efforts.
The day wrapped up with a panel discussion featuring local experts working on fecal contamination issues. Panelists included Jefferson Currie, the Lumber RiverKeeper; Dr. Amy Scaroni, Clemson University Assistant Professor and Water Resources Extension Specialist; Chelsea Cogliano, Watershed Planner for Horry County Stormwater Management; and Bryan Rabon, Manager of the Aquatic Science Program at South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The panel discussion was an engaging conversation between conference participants and panelists, who shared their experiences and expertise.
The Waccamaw Conference is a great opportunity to reflect on how our waterways and estuaries are connected. Thank you to all our participants, exhibitors, speakers, volunteers, and students who helped to make it the “No. 2” conference in the Grand Strand!