Previous reports of suspicious activity on the old navy base have apparently been corrected by the parties responsible. Per a citizen tip, Charleston Waterkeeper found two pumps discharging dewater into the Cooper River on January 14th . We reported the activity to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) shortly after documenting the incident.
DHEC representatives investigated our report and took appropriate measures to determine whether the discharges were in violation of any permits or environmental statutes. Engineers and project managers had permission through granted permits to perform stormwater construction on the site; however, there was no such allowance to permit the direct discharge of dewater into waters of the United States. DHEC policy clearly states, “if water is encountered while trenching, the water should be filtered to remove any sediments before being pumped back into any waters of the State.” This language is written in what should be an incredibly familiar document for engineers and others performing any construction on stormwater infrastructure, the Stormwater Management and Sediment and Erosion Control Plan Review Checklist for Design Professionals.
As apparent by the videos and pictures in our other blog posts, the water that was pumped out of the stormwater basins was not filtered in any way before being discharged into our waterways. This dewater likely contained high levels of sediment and possible amounts of heavy metals and other toxins washed into storm drains around the old navy yard. If pumped directly into our waterways, these contaminants threaten the ecological life in that immediate area.
DHEC spoke with the responsible parties associated with the construction and informed them of their improper practices. The engineer in charge responded to DHEC by declaring that they have taken corrective action to comply with environmental law and policy and assure that proper measures of filtration are now in place.
Without citizen oversight, this incident could have likely never been addressed…thus worsening the health and quality of our waterways.
Contact Charleston Waterkeeper to report any suspicious activity… remember, these are our waterways to enjoy, and our waterways to protect.