So, how does the quality of the water in the Reedy River impact wildlife?
In stretches of the Reedy, you can observe muskrats, river otters, deer, blue herons, geese, and ducks. Based on fish surveys performed by the SC Department of Natural Resources (SC DNR), sunfish are abundant, especially in large tributaries draining to the Reedy. The Swamp Rabbit Trail allows users to view wildlife in and along the river. While dissolved oxygen may not be inhibiting fish and wildlife, pH does alter spawning, ammonia in the river, and more, potentially impacting wildlife and especially fisheries.
The Good News
Lake Conestee Nature Preserve (LCNP) has been designated as an Important Bird Area of Global Significance by the National Audubon Society.
Deer, raccoon, beaver, fox, river otter, and various small mammals inhabit LCNP, along with numerous species of reptiles and amphibians.
The Dissolved Oxygen levels, of paramount importance to aquatic wildlife, always exceed acceptable limits in the Reedy, meaning there's lots of air to breathe!
Virtually all rivers in the state and region have elevated turbidity during storm events, yet the river is only elevated for a small fraction of the year.
Buffers are important to river health. During construction, per state law, all permitted construction sites must maintain a 35’ buffer. The City currently has legislated buffer areas along the Reedy. The county requires a 45’ forested buffer along waterways for all new development.
The City of Greenville has recently gone to great lengths to remove invasive vegetation along the banks of the Reedy and stabilize the river bank, and in some areas, very steep stream banks.
All partners in the Reedy River Water Quality group have been stabilizing streambanks in the watershed. Stabilizing streambanks helps to control streambank erosion, which can be a source of excess phosphorus and sediment. Both of these can negatively impact wildlife.
ReWa is redeveloping the Mauldin Road water resource recovery facility campus with a strategic objective to enhance community education about the Reedy River and the efforts of ReWa to protect environment and water quality. The redevelopment includes public access areas, habitat preservation, interactive displays in the new laboratory building, and the installation of a “litter trap” in the Reedy River.
The Bad News
While both the City and County have riparian buffers to capture and treat for nutrient pollution and sediment, and mitigate flood concerns, a minimum 100’ riparian buffer has been proven effective. Nutrients, specifically, are better captured in wider buffers of a minimum of 100’.
Like many metropolitan areas, urban runoff includes metals from vehicles and carcinogens from coal tar sealants that end up in the Reedy River and in fish tissue.
There is a strong connection between land use and the health of fish communities. By 2030, it is predicted that approximately 75% of the Reedy watershed will contain streams with “poor” biological conditions resulting from extensive urban development.
Sediment levels are elevated following storm events.
Riparian zones are typically dominated by nonnative, invasive plants such as kudzu, ailanthus (Tree of Heaven), mimosa trees, and Chinese privet. In the past few years, Japanese knotweed is also beginning to expand along the Reedy’s banks. The rapid growth of these nonnative species decreases biodiversity in the Reedy River watershed.