Focus on Water

Daufuskie Island Conservancy’s FOCUS ON WATER

Approximately 20 Daufuskie Island residents participated each day in the Daufuskie Island Conservancy’s four day program (January 10-13, 2011) on water issues that have potential to impact our precious island. Speakers representing diverse groups were on hand to present issues/information along with dos and don’ts on water management and usage and to answer questions.

SALTWATER INTRUSION—WHAT IS IT DOING TO OUR WATER?

Kicking off the series, Charles Sexton, Director, Engineering, Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority (BJWSA), provided a brief overview of our fresh water resources. The BJWSA draws its fresh water supplies from the Savannah River, as does Georgia, and, as we do on Daufuskie Island, from the Floridian Aquifers. He described how salt water has been moving into our fresh water supplies at a rate of 300 feet each year. Since 1980, South Carolina and Georgia have been working to solve saltwater intrusion problems due to over pumping of our fresh water resources. While Sexton said he doesn’t believe saltwater intrusion will have an impact on Daufuskie Island for 50 plus years at our current production rates, he does believe that ground water limits will continue to be capped at lower limits  meaning less water for more money. He recommends that we on Daufuskie Island institute water management programs now. What does this mean? a) the biggest waster of water and easiest to remedy is to reduce the amount/time of irrigation used outside our homes; b) collect rain water in barrels or cisterns to use as water sources for irrigating our lawns and shrubs; c) check toilets,. Faucets and showerheads to conserve on water use inside our homes. Sexton warns that “cheap” water is going to be a thing of the past. While he doesn’t think we’ll run out of water, to make it “drinkable” (removing salt content) will be costly and will make access to fresh water supplies significantly more expensive. For more information, tips and checklists on how to check your toilets, faucets and showerheads to conserve our individual water usage go to http://www.daufuskieislandconservancy.org" and/or http://www.bjwsa.org.

WHAT IMPACT WILL THE JASPER PORT HAVE ON OUR WATER SUPPLY?

Andrea Malloy, Interim Director, South Coast Office, Coastal Conservation League, updated attendees on the status of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Project which is to dredge 36 miles of the Savannah River to a depth up to 48 feet so the new mega transport ships (called Post Panamax ships) that will be online around 2014 would be able to reach the Savannah Port at Garden City. After 11 years of study, the report has been issued and the comment period on the proposal is underway. Both SC and GA must sign off on the project. South Carolina is favoring construction of the Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Project over the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project because it will require less dredging since it is located six miles closer to the ocean than Garden City, have less impact on our aquifers, less impact on the environment and SC would share in the benefits from the Jasper Port since it is located in SC; but it would have to be constructed from the ground up while the Port of Savannah with its infrastructure already exist. In addition, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the city and Port of Savannah and Georgia all favor the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project for obvious reasons but South Carolina believes it will receive no benefit from this project. The Corps is also recommending that the Jasper Port site be maintained as the “dumping site” for the “dredge spoils” from the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project until 2060.

Some of SC concerns continue to include that dredging up to 48 feet still will not be deep enough to meet the requirements of the Post Panamax ships, the need for adequate cost-benefit analyses of the alternative plan (Jasper Port); challenges to the Corps of Engineers’ economic presumptions and identifying models used for their water quality analyses, and loss of wetlands (mainly on SC side). It is expected to be tied up in the courts for many years to come. But is there anything we can do? Malloy recommends that we stay informed by signing up to the Coastal Conservation League’s newsletter; write letters to the editor in support of the Jasper Port site, including The Savannah Morning News.

What impact will it have on Daufuskie Island specifically? Still unknown but the Coastal Conservation League and others believe that the Jasper Port alternative is the best choice and would have less impact on our environment and water systems. In addition, South Carolina would share in the benefits.

POST MEETING NOTE: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted an extension to DHEC for the comment period to November 2011. There’s been lots of coverage in the local newspapers concerning South Carolina’s displeasure with the current plan.

For more information go to the DI Conservancy Website at http://www.daufuskieislandconservancy.org or http://www.jasperportnow.com, http://www.sav-harbor.com and http://www.coastalconservationleague.com".

HOW YOU CAN SAVE WATER AND HELP OUR COMMUITY?

Representatives from the Greenery, Kent Barry, Landscape Supervisor and Ronnie Cable, Head of Irrigation, reported that studies show that we use more water on our lawns than inside our homes. They presented the rational for why we need to conserve our water usage using rainwater harvesting techniques and others to reduce our water usage outside our homes -- a typical irrigation system for a medium to large lawn might use up to 2,500 gallons of water per cycle in the summer -- running two or three times/week that represents 12 to 30,000 gallons/month.

Rainwater Harvesting
Rain Barrels, that collect rainwater runoff of your roof, can be an easy, cost effective approach to conserving water cisterns or catchment systems have been used for centuries in arid areas where, in many cases, rainfall is the only source of fresh water. Here in the Lowcountry, rainwater harvesting decreases concerns over storm water runoff and pollutants because of the natural filtration that occurs. Cisterns should be considered for all newconstruction but can be retrofitted into existing homes.

Water Conservation/Management
Learn to water more efficiently – maintaining landscapes with less water with more efficient irrigation systems that include rain sensors and nozzles properly located to prevent over watering or controls that adjust watering programs, etc. Have your irrigation system evaluated once/year to make sure it is functioning properly and providing proper coverage; be sure to turn off your system during the winter months, and design landscape to breakout shrubs and flowers from the lawn to maintain proper water management Consider landscaping without grass using native plants only.

PRODUCTS TO REDUCE WATER USAGE IN YOUR HOME

Daufuskie Island’s own homebuilder Chuck Hunter of Osprey Construction, closed the education week by talking about practical things we all can do to reduce our water usage inside our homes – both new and existing homes. Hunter who is currently seeking certification as a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) builder and in Passive House Design reported that in 1990, 30 states reported water stressed conditions. By 2000, the number increased to 40 states and in 2009, the number was 45. Hunter pointed out that conserving water doesn’t require a significant amount of money. There are many economical products for sale that will help us individually conserve. Water management alone can conserve significant water use.

Interesting factoids:
75 percent of water use is in the bathroom
25 percent of water is used by the toilet
By managing shower time (5 minute vs 15 minute shower),we can effectively reduce water use by 35 percent The average household uses 130,000 gallons of water/year (or 350 gallons/day) The average individual uses 25,550 gallons of water/year (or 70 gallons/day).

Hunter offered tips on easy ways to save water and money:
Find and repair water leaks in toilets, washers, sinks, water lines feeding into our homes, faucets, etc.
Use low-flow shower heads (2.5 gallons per minute [gpm] or less) and faucet aerators (to infuse water to increase pressure) and take shorter showers –a five minute shower using a 2.5 or less gpm showerhead uses 12.5 gallons vs a five minute shower using a regular (5 or more gpm) showerhead that uses 25+.gallons.
Repair and/or replace toilets that use only 2.5 gallons per flush or less
Insulate hot water pipes
Wash only full loads in dishwasher and clothes washer
Minimize use of garbage disposal (requires water to run to operate)
When shaving, fill sink with water and rinse razor in sink not under running water
Turn off water while brushing your teeth
Save and reuse rinsing water (grey water) in kitchen to water plants

Paul Vogel of the Daufuskie Island Conservancy will pursue the recommendations made during the week for water management and conservation concerns for new construction as well as retrofitting existing homes with the Architectural Review Boards in the PUDs (Planned Unit Developments) and with individuals in the historic district.

Should anyone have specific questions/concerns, Vogel can be reached at pvogel4588@aol.com.
For more information on Daufuskie Island Conservancy, water conservation and/or other Conservancy initiatives and links to key websites, go to http://www.daufuskieislandconservancy.org.