Protecting Water with South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream

March 20, 2023


Ellen Sturup Comeau, Water Resources Agent

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) co-leads the program with Clemson’s Center for Watershed Excellence. SC AAS volunteers sample local waterways monthly and collect vital physical, chemical, and biological data that complement local and state data. This data is made publicly accessible on the SC AAS database ( and is used for education, determining baseline conditions, and screening for potential problems. SC AAS volunteers also increase awareness of the relationships between pollution, land use, and the personal responsibility to be an environmental steward.

2023 has begun, and there are plenty of opportunities with Beaufort County Clemson Extension to get involved in our community! For those interested in a hands-on approach to watershed protection, the South Carolina Adopt-a-Stream program (SC AAS) may be an excellent fit! SC AAS is a volunteer citizen science program that provides an opportunity to be directly involved in monitoring and reporting on the health of local watersheds.

The SC AAS program launched its tidal saltwater program and began recruiting volunteers in Beaufort County in June 2022. To say the program is popular in Beaufort is an overwhelming understatement. Beaufort County is one of the fastest-growing SC AAS program locations in history. Since June, over 100 certified volunteers have performed more than 185 sampling events in over 29 sites in Beaufort County. Volunteers donated 21 hours of sampling and 1,337 miles traveled, which is equivalent to $10,396.00 towards water quality benefits and education.

The success of this program can be attributed to excellent leadership from the program’s state team but also the support of the local trainers. SC AAS trainers have experienced volunteers with additional training to teach the material to a broad audience. These trainers are a new volunteer’s first experience with the program, and the people volunteers turn to with questions. Chris Kehrer, Naturalist and Operations Coordinator at the Port Royal Sound Foundation, and Ellen Sturup Comeau, Beaufort Clemson Extension Water Resources Agent, are Beaufort County’s most active SC AAS trainers.

To become an SC AAS volunteer, you must first attend a training workshop. Workshops typically last 5-6 hours, including indoor classroom lessons and outdoor field practice. Hybrid options (virtual classroom/in-person outdoor lessons) are also available. Workshop attendance is always free, and adults must accompany participants under 18. To learn more about the SC AAS program and find a training workshop near you, visit the SC AAS website at or the SC AAS Facebook page at

Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to people of all ages, regardless of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or family status, and is an equal opportunity employer.