SC Adopt-a-Stream and PalmettoPride Establish Partnership to Crack Down on Illegal Dumping

Clemson, South Carolina (July 27, 2023) — SC Adopt-a-Stream (SC AAS) is a statewide network of trained volunteers focused on monitoring their local waterways and alerting local authorities about the potential of pollution. These water stewards enter their data into a statewide database managed by Clemson University and is designed to openly share water quality data. The program —which just celebrated its sixth anniversary — is co-lead by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and Clemson University’s Center for Watershed Excellence.

As South Carolina contains 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, volunteers are crucial to help in the monitoring of waterway health. With regular monitoring, volunteers help identify pollution that can be harmful to wildlife and humans and put recreational waters at risk. Katie Callahan, Director of Clemson’s Center, regularly reports that SC AAS is a program “with legs,” where community-collected data leads to expedited local action. The program’s new partnership with PalmettoPride will continue to do just that. PalmettoPride is South Carolina’s anti-litter organization, addressing litter prevention through education, supporting enforcement, connecting community groups to resources, and mobilizing volunteers. 

Based on data collected in 2022, a growing use of SC AAS volunteer collected data and observations is the identification of riverside cleanup locations by local environmental organizations and stakeholders. The program already encourages volunteers to clean up their monitoring site and to safely remove manageable trash away from the river; however, some monitoring sites have more than what two people can manage. 

To better meet this interest of volunteers, SC AAS established a partnership with PalmettoPride to enable volunteers to report illegal dumping along South Carolina waterways. South Carolina Code of Laws Section 16-11-700 defines illegal dumping as “disposing of more than fifteen pounds of any collection of solid waste, litter, or other materials including discarded, deceased animals or deceased animal parts which create a hazard to the public health and welfare, but not (defined) as a careless, scattered littering of smaller items.” As a misdemeanor, illegal dumping in South Carolina can carry penalties of up to $2,600 in fines, over 30 hours of litter-gathering community service, and even jail time.  

When a volunteer observes these conditions, they indicate so in the SC AAS Database, which triggers an alert to PalmettoPride, who will then review the conditions and alert the appropriate local authorities and Keep South Carolina Beautiful affiliate coordinators. South Carolina is celebrated for its unique water features and hosts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. The working partnership between PalmettoPride and SC AAS supports ongoing efforts to keep our waterways healthy and litter-free, which in turn protects our state’s booming tourist economy. 

“We know that litter must be picked up, but we prefer to focus on prevention. One way that we are working on preventing litter from travelling through our waterways is by installing Watergoat trash traps across the state,” said Sarah Lyles, Executive Director of PalmettoPride. “Our partnership with SC Adopt-a-Stream will help us further prevent pollution of our waterways and natural areas.” 

Illegal dumping along a waterway is particularly egregious, as it can disrupt local ecosystems and damage water quality downstream. Further investigation of illegal dumpsites alone can lead law enforcement to the culprit, in which case they may be ordered to clean up the dumpsite. Local authorities sometimes have the financial resources and personnel to remediate dumpsites. Without these resources, local authorities often collaborate with volunteers in the Keep South Carolina Beautiful affiliate network in the restoration of these sites.

“People illegally dump because they don’t want the inconvenience of properly disposing of their waste,” said PalmettoPride Enforcement Program Manager, Samuel H. Ford. “They don’t always realize illegal dumping is not a victimless crime. It harms our environment, our communities, and most of all, those responsible for cleaning up the mess.” 

PalmettoPride further assists local law enforcement by awarding grant funding and installing cameras and signage in areas that are susceptible to illegal dumping. While this new partnership between SC AAS and PalmettoPride helps identify illegal dumpsites, anyone can report littering or illegal dumping to PalmettoPride’s Litter Busters Hotline by calling 1-877-7-LITTER, filling out an online form, or downloading the Litter Busters app

For more information on illegal dumping and the partnership, contact PalmettoPride Enforcement Program Manager Samuel H. Ford at

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PalmettoPride is working towards a litter-free South Carolina. Created as a legislative initiative to fight litter and help beautify South Carolina by engaging citizens to take action in their communities through education, enforcement, awareness, and pickup.

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