The Richland Soil and Water Conservation District (RSWCD) is spotlighting two local high school students for their dedication to water quality monitoring and awareness.
Eli Crisan, a Dreher High School senior, and Ian Saracila, a Spring Valley High School junior, were recognized with Outstanding Youth Awards at the RSWCD’s board meeting Monday, Sept. 13. Richland County Administrator Leonardo Brown and County Councilwoman Jesica Mackey (District 9) presented Crisan and Saracila’s awards, respectively.
The two students assessed water quality at the 8-Mile Creek and Gills Creek Rosewood Drive monitoring sites during the 2020-21 school year, tracking levels of dissolved oxygen, pH and bacteria weekly. Crisan and Saracila used a monitoring kit developed by S.C. Adopt-a-Stream (SC AAS), a program that enlists volunteers to take water samples statewide and maintains a database of the findings.
The RSWCD provided the kit, which has tools for measuring various physical, chemical and biological variables in water.
“Your work to monitor, protect and improve water quality through the S.C. Adopt-a-Stream program is inspiring and truly commendable, especially for someone so young,” Mackey told Saracila while presenting his award. “Thank you for all you’re doing to protect the environment and raise awareness for conservation at Spring Valley High School.”
As a new school year begins, both students hope to continue their work.
“We could not have done this without the lender monitoring kit from RSWCD,” said Crisan, who hopes to incorporate his findings into a school research project. For his part, Saracila is organizing a water monitoring club at Spring Valley High.
Water Quality: Getting Involved
SC AAS seeks to educate residents about their connection with rivers and water quality and to keep people informed about the health of waterways, leading to better decision making. Anyone can become a certified SC AAS water quality monitor by attending a free workshop. Volunteer training is available statewide by visiting www.scadoptastream.org.
Once trained, volunteers can access monitoring kits through SC AAS community partners, then collect water quality data and observations before submitting them online. Such partnerships have led to several water quality successes, including quick identification of sewer leaks and better sediment control.
SC AAS is directed in partnership through the Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC).
“Local partners provide the monitoring kit, mentoring, energy, audience and more that strengthen our work as a community of watershed stewards,” said Katie Ann Callahan, director of the Center for Watershed Excellence. “With local partners, SC AAS becomes a tool in the collaborative toolbox of creating more educated, engaged and inclusive communities, protecting waterways for the next generation.”
“The health of our waterways is in the hands of everyone, so having students involved in the protection of our watersheds sets up the next generation to be strong environmental stewards,” said Grace Fields, of SCDHEC’s Water Quality Division.
From left, Richland Soil and Water Conservation District Commissioner Kenny Mullis, RSWCD Community Outreach Coordinator Mary Hannah Lindsay, S.C. Adopt-a-Stream Coordinator Sierra Hylton, Outstanding Youth Award winners Eli Crisan and Ian Saracila, County Councilwoman Jesica Mackey and Richland County Administrator Leonardo Brown attended Monday’s RSWCD board meeting, where Crisan and Saracila were honored for their conservation project.