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South Carolina Estuarine and Coastal Assessment Program (SCECAP)

Sponsoring Organization:  South Carolina Department of Natural Resources: Marine Division

Description:  The South Carolina Estuarine and Coastal Assessment Program (SCECAP).integrates multiple measures of water quality, sediment quality and biological condition to assess overall ecological condition, and it expands historical monitoring activities that have primarily focused on open water habitats (e.g. tidal rivers, sounds) to include tidal creeks, which represent important nursery habitat for most of the stateís economically valuable species. Many tidal creeks are the first point of entry for nonpoint source runoff from upland areas, providing an early indication of anthropogenic stresses on the environment. The SCECAP monitoring design uses a probability-based approach developed by the USEPA National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in Corvallis, OR. It also incorporates measurements and samples required for the USEPA National Coastal Assessment Program, which was initiated in South Carolina in 2000. This USEPA program provides an opportunity to integrate state monitoring goals with national monitoring objectives, while allowing an expansion of monitoring activities that would otherwise not be feasible through state funding alone. Other research projects and partners have also been incorporated into SCECAP, providing more funding and opportunities for collaboration. Cooperators include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), NOAA/NOS-Charleston Lab, the College of Charleston, the Harmful Algal Bloom Program and several coastal counties that provided funding for water quality monitoring instrumentation.

Web Site:  http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/scecap/index.htm

Duration:  01/01/1999 to present  (as of 02/27/2009)

Program Contact:  Bob Van Dolah

Program Contact Email:  vandolahr@dnr.sc.gov

Program Contact Web URL:  http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/scecap/ProgramSummary.htm

Program Purpose:  The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) cooperate in a collaborative monitoring program entitled the South Carolina Estuarine and Coastal Assessment Program (SCECAP). The programís objective is to assess the condition of the stateís estuarine habitats and associated biological resources annually.

Data Access Web URL:  http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/scecap/Data_downloadablefiles.htm

Data Access Information:  Reporting Goals: Bi-annual �State of the Estuary� reports summarizing the overall condition of South Carolina's coastal system are prepared in formats that are easy to understand by the general public. These reports are produced approximately 2 years after each sampling period is completed in order to provide adequate time to process the large volume of samples collected each summer. Data are also provided as electronic files on this SCECAP website as they become available. Although the probability-based sampling approach is not intended to provide a trend analysis at specific sites over time, this state-wide database can be used to evaluate changes in the overall percentage of our estuarine habitat that meets, or does not meet, desired levels of condition each year. Many estuaries can also be analyzed at the basin level, once a sufficient number of sites representing each habitat type (open water and tidal creek) have been sampled.

Data Access Policy:  Open access; Downloadable

Sampling Design:  Approximately 60 stations are randomly selected for sampling each year. All sites are located within the coastal zone extending from the saltwater � freshwater interface to near the mouth of each estuarine drainage basin and extending from the Little River Inlet at the North Carolina border to the Wright River near the Georgia border. The Savannah River is not included in the SCECAP initiative, but is being sampled by the Georgia Coastal Resources Division as part of the USEPA National Coastal Assessment Program. About half of the stations are located in tidal creeks and the other half are located in the larger open water bodies that form South Carolina�s tidal rivers, bays and sounds. For the purposes of this program, tidal creeks are defined as those estuarine water bodies less than 100m (328 ft) in width from marsh bank to marsh bank, with stations limited to the portion of creeks having at least 1m of water depth at low tide. Using these criteria, approximately

Monitoring Stations:  no stations are currently registered in the database

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