We are a water-based community, surrounded by water, with uplands dotted by wetlands, ponds and lagoons. In many places on the island, development has gotten very close to these waterways. Studies show that when impervious surface (concrete, asphalt, roofs of buildings) coverage reaches 10% or more, surface water quality declines (Schueler, 1994). This is because of storm water that runs off of impervious surfaces, carrying pollutants (such as oils, greases, brake fluid, pet waste, antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) on those surfaces with it. Storm water eventually flows to our waterways and the pollutants damage the aquatic organisms that live there. Over time, these pollutants can also cause our creeks and salt water marshes to be closed to shellfishing, fishing and swimming.
For more information on protecting water quality, visit Clemson University's Cooperative Extension website at www.clemson.edu/public/carolinaclear/what_you_can_do/homeowners.html.
If you live on the water and have a buffer that is planted with native plants---great! If you don't and want to install one, please view the list of plants native to the island that can be used,
Remember, any work done in a buffer zone needs prior approval from the Town; staff is available to help you plan your buffer and answer your questions. Please contact Sally Krebs, Sustainable Practices Coordinator at (843)341-4690 for assistance.
Many homeowners want to know why sod can’t be used in buffers.
First, and most critically, sod requires intensive maintenance to keep it healthy. This includes frequent fertilizer, herbicide to remove weeds and other chemicals to kill pests (e.g. fungus, mole crickets). Planting sod in a buffer area allows all of these chemicals to be applied in very close proximity to the water, and many of them wind up there.
Second, sod is a monoculture (the planting of only one species of plant) and has very low use as a resource to wildlife, while native plants have high wildlife use. Native plants have also evolved in our island environment, so they are resistant to drought and local pests. This saves you money on irrigation, pesticides and maintenance.