Two regional agencies have received separate grants to help clean up Beaufort County waterways.
The groups, which have joined forces on the Clean Marine Beaufort campaign, are the Beaufort Soil & Water Conservation District, which received a $4,000 grant from the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety & Clean Water, and the S.C. Sea Grant Consortium, which has received a $9,000 grant from the University of Georgia's Southeast Atlantic Marine Debris Initiative.
Also collaborating on the debris cleanup program are Clemson Extension, the Port Royal Sound Foundation and Beaufort County Solid Waste Management.
"We're really excited because there haven't been that many successful marine-grant initiatives," Sea Grant fisheries specialist Amber Von Harten said.
The three-part Clean Marine Beaufort program is based on a similar effort in Charleston last year, she said. It starts with teaching the public about preventing marine debris and how to properly dispose of it at designated sites rather than dumping it in the water.
On two days in the fall, 10 Dumpsters will be set up at public boat landings and marinas around the county. Boaters can dispose of trash they would otherwise pay to leave at a landfill, such as small recreational boats, which people often leave in their yards or abandon on the water, Von Harten said. The dates for those events have not been determined.
"The whole point is to make sure there are Dumpsters throughout north and south Beaufort County so people can get rid of stuff that would otherwise go into the water," said Shelby Berry of the Beaufort Conservation District.
After those Dumpster days, Clean Marine Beaufort will launch a monthlong push to get boaters to report large debris, such as abandoned boats, in the water using an Android app called "Clean Marine Beaufort," which tracks the GPS location, type and amount of debris and its effect on the environment. Data are sent to a statewide database so authorities can plan removal.
"The app has had a good bit of activity, and we'd like to have a more concentrated effort to get everything reported," she said.
The grant announcements coincide with World Oceans Day events. Celebrations will be Friday in southern Beaufort County and June 16 in northern Beaufort County.
Among the events are:
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/EyeOnBeaufort.