The Town of Bluffton, Lowcountry Stormwater Partners, South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) invite all greater Bluffton residents and business owners to participate in the 32nd Annual Beach Sweep/River Sweep on Saturday, September 18th from 9 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
The event will be held at the Oyster Factory Park on the May River (63 Wharf Street). This is the 32nd year this statewide event has been held and the 13th year in which Bluffton has participated. Thousands of volunteers across the state participate annually in this event, which is South Carolina’s largest one-day, volunteer, litter clean-up of beaches, marshes and waterways.
“The May River daily contributes to Bluffton’s quality of life, beauty and the magic of living here. This event, held the third Saturday of each September, gives every resident an opportunity to nurture the May River so she can continue to give to us a recreational and cultural venue full of marine species and memories.” Mayor Lisa Sulka said. “In recent years, two hurricanes in 2018 and 2017 as well as pandemic concerns in 2020 canceled this event, so it even more important to join forces this year to maintain the health of the May River.”
Beth Lewis, River Sweep event coordinator and the Town’s water quality program administrator, said these events help create a sense of community as they educate residents about town and regional resources.
“The Town is very grateful for such an involved community whose residents share their concern and care for the May River,” Lewis said. “Beaufort County’s waterways are rich in marine life and greatly contribute to the Lowcountry culture. This event provides residents an opportunity to be environmental stewards of our most cherished natural resources.”
Coffee, snacks & supplies provided for volunteers
The Town of Bluffton encourages all individuals, families, friends, schools, youth groups, civic groups, conservation groups and businesses to volunteer for a few hours to clean the river and roadsides which drain to the river.
Corner Perk will be providing a cup of their May River Blend coffee before the event and the Hardeeville and Bluffton Walmart stores will provide snacks and water to volunteers.
Necessary supplies including gloves, bags, sunscreen, and water will be provided by event partners. Just bring yourself and wear comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes.
Water and land-based cleanup options
Litter pickup will be taking place around the Historic District and on the May River. The Outside Foundation, Outside Hilton Head and local kayak club members will be assisting with cleanup efforts on the water. If you’d like to participate with your own boat or kayak, please arrive by 8:30 a.m. to allow time for setup.
Each local volunteer becomes a citizen-scientist and records data about the type and amount of litter they collect. This data is tabulated, added to South Carolina’s statewide data and is incorporated into the Ocean Conservancy’s worldwide data. This cumulative data provides crucial information on the sources of litter so communities can better identify and target anti-litter education.
If you need more information about the event, please contact Beth Lewis, water quality program administrator, with the Town’s Watershed Management Division at (843) 706-4559 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is not necessary however, please notify Lewis if you are bringing a community group or organization so the event can plan for special projects and an adequate quantity of supplies.
Attendees are strongly encouraged to socially distance and wear face coverings when appropriate.
The Town of Bluffton and the County-wide stormwater education consortium, Lowcountry Stormwater Partners, thank all local and regional partners who make this event an annual success. Partners include Hardeeville Walmart, Bluffton Walmart, Corner Perk, i2 Recycle, Waste Management, Outside Hilton Head, the Outside Foundation, Keep Beaufort County Beautiful, the Beaufort County Solid Waste & Recycling Division, Palmetto Pride, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR), and South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium.
To make the Town’s cleanups as sustainable as possible, Waste Management will be providing recycling and waste disposal bins. Volunteers will separate the litter they collect into two bags. Waste Management has partnered with the Town to provide recycling and trash receptacles so appropriate types of litter can be recycled, while the remainder will be disposed of properly.
Since 1988, the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources have organized this annual event. The Beach Sweep/River Sweep takes place in conjunction with the International Coastal Cleanup, coordinated by the Ocean Conservancy. The Ocean Conservancy tallies all the debris data from each location worldwide. The data helps those in charge of environmental protection to identify the sources of litter so they can make recommendations which may help prevent and reduce the amount of litter polluting our waterways.
The Town of Bluffton will be providing a gift for all volunteers.
About Lowcountry Stormwater Partners: Striving for healthy, fishable, swimmable waterways:
A Neighbors for Clean Water initiative began as a project of the Town of Bluffton with the goal of educating and motivating residents to be responsible and do their part to clean up the May River and surrounding watersheds in greater Bluffton. The initiative began with support from the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Recognizing the importance of having an education program that would share common goals and messages, Carolina Clear, the Town of Bluffton, Beaufort County, the Town of Hilton Head Island, the City of Beaufort, and the Town of Port Royal came together to form the Lowcountry Stormwater Partners – We are Neighbors for Clean Water. The objective is to reach and educate all our citizens in Beaufort County and to continue our joint efforts to protect our precious waterways.
If you are interested in keeping up to date on the latest Lowcountry Stormwater Partners news, please follow our work on Facebook and sign-up for the Changing Tides, our monthly e-newsletter.