Posted: July 3, 2018 at 10:53 am

We are excited to be expanding our network in the state of Georgia by welcoming Savannah Riverkeeper to the Swim Guide affiliate program. Even more exciting is that Savannah Riverkeeper’s Swim Guide program is going to be powered by their Veterans for Clean Water program, a program that trains veterans as citizen scientists to monitor their local waters.

Savannah Riverkeeper

Savannah Riverkeeper (SRK) serves as the primary guardian of the Savannah River striving to respect, protect, and improve the entire river basin through education, advocacy, and action. They are a non-profit organization funded by individuals and foundations that share their commitment to creating a clean and healthy river that sustains life and is cherished by its people. Striving to be an effective and sustainable organization, SRK focuses on making the Savannah River a healthy and productive watershed by ensuring the natural, economic, and recreational viability of the basin as a whole now and for generations to come. They work under the pillars of restoration, protection and education.

Veterans for Clean Water, a veteran outreach program offering participants the opportunity to test water quality in the Savannah River watershed. The program will provide a partnership opportunity between the organization’s mission and veterans with a need or desire for community involvement, field training in water sciences, and other technical skills.

South Channel of the Savannah River. Photo by Ken Lund.

Veterans will be responsible for the entirety of the process from sample collection to dissemination, building skills in field science, information technology, communications and more. Participants will also have the opportunity to integrate with SRK’s innovative K9 Illicit Sewage Detection Program, which uses canine partners to sniff out leaks and trouble spots. Participants will test for bacterial and chemical parameters.

Other programs run by SRK include community and waterway cleanups, educational outreach, riparian zone tree planting, legislative engagement, paddle outings throughout the watershed, and like all Waterkeepers, pollution control and prevention through regular patrols and responding to citizens’ reports.

The Savannah River Watershed

From its headwaters in Appalachia to its mouth at the Atlantic Ocean, the Savannah River forms the border between the states of Georgia and South Carolina, draining a watershed of 10,577 square miles. It originates in the mountains of North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia near Ellicott Rock, the point where the three states meet.

The upper portion of the river system is made up of manmade Lakes Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond, where activities like boating, sailing, and watersports are immensely popular. The lower part of the basin is characterized by a meandering course with blackwater tributary creeks and thousands-of-year-old cypress swamps, underexplored routes that are perfect for canoeing, kayaking and viewing wildlife. At the coast, the Savannah broadens into a marine estuary before flowing into the Atlantic Ocean near Tybee Island. Here, fishing, shrimping, crabbing, charter tours and other tourism contribute to a huge economy dependent on the health of fragile ecosystems.

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