Phase 1 of an incentive grant to clean up the bacterially-impaired Spanish Creek watershed in Charlton County, GA., began in 2019. Efforts are still underway to identify the source of the contamination. Continued testing for both bacteria and DNA is needed.
The Charlton County Citizens Advisory Committee is currently developing a Watershed Management Plan. During its most recent meeting, illegal dumping was identified as a potential major cause of the pollution in a citizen survey. However, recent DNA sampling shows both feral pigs and human fecal matter is a problem. The wastewater treatment plant has been ruled out as a source.
SMRK is working with the Charlton County Board of Commissioners, the St. Marys River Management Committee, Charlton County High School, and numerous other local government agencies on this project. With our support, students at Charlton County High School began regular water quality monitoring on Spanish Creek in January 2020.
Since the 1990’s, Spanish Creek has not met its designated level for fishing use because of excessively high fecal coliform levels and excessively low dissolved oxygen. In 2006, EPD published a TMDL Implementation Plan for Spanish Creek with a deadline of 2016 for remediation efforts. That deadline was not met and grants to accomplish the efforts now require a more extensive EPA Nine Element Watershed Management Plan. The plan is now nearing completion by the Charlton County Citizens Advisory Committee using a $29,000 Coastal Incentive Grant from GA-DNR Coastal Resources Division.