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Become A Watershed Champion!

Download the Watershed Champion Brochure

The Gills Creek Watershed Association invites you to become a “Watershed Champion.”

This program recognizes residents in the watershed who are taking steps to improve water quality and environmental habitat in Gills Creek through actions they take in their own gardens and yards. A “watershed” is an area of land that channels, or “sheds,” rainfall and other water runoff into a single body of water. So, we residents in a watershed all have a role in protecting this natural resource. Collectively, we can clean our waters and improve our environment, and thus our health, by creating a continuous corridor of rich habitat. This benefits wildlife and humans alike, contributes to the greater good, and creates sustainable personal space for home life, work, and play. Our children will grow up exploring and reveling in the natural world – in their own back yards, or in public access to the waters of Gills Creek and its feeder streams. Certified Watershed Champions will receive a certificate and can purchase a yard sign to display.


Simply confirm that you are taking certain steps that demonstrate your commitment to preserving water quality, environmental health, and natural diversity, and you can be a Watershed Champion! There are three main Steps, and each contains a number of possible commitments. Only a few of those need to be met to meet the requirements for certification. However, the more you can accomplish, the more positive your impact will be on our environment. Also, if you find that you do not currently qualify, please consider taking some of the suggested actions, and join us in this community effort.

Click the button below for a thorough explanation of the steps and commitments, including a wide range of links to resources giving explanations and instructions for a variety of activities and improvements. Or keep scrolling for a quick overview of the steps and a link to the Certification Application!

Step 1 - Know the Destination of Rainfall that Lands in Your Yard

The water in Gills Creek comes from a number of sources, including runoff from both developed and undeveloped properties, roads, and local springs. The extent to which the water landing in your yard will affect water quality in the Creek itself depends on how much water is actually leaving your property through runoff and how contaminated it is by pollution and debris. So, just where does the rainwater go after it reaches your property? Does it absorb into your soil, or does it run off into neighboring yards where it can be absorbed by the soil? Does it flow towards a nearby water body where it will have a direct effect on its quality? Or does it flow into a local storm water drain where it will be channeled to a local water body without any decontaminating treatment? The answers to these questions help you understand just what impact you may be having beyond your own home.

Step 2 - Improve or Sustain Quality of Water Running Over and Through Your Yard

As water runs off your yard, it eventually finds its way down to a receiving creek or lake, and it can carry with it dissolved substances and debris it encounters on the way. Thus, the commitments in Step 2 relate to a range of possibilities that can help to reduce the flow of contaminated water:

  • Reduce contaminants actually applied to your yard (herbicides, pesticides, excess fertilizers, dog waste, and so on),
  • Slow down runoff from your yard, giving it a chance to absorb into the soil,
  • Remove trash and litter as they appear,
  • Put in specific structures to retain and use rainwater, such as rain barrels or rain gardens, 
  • Facilitate soil percolation, such as by minimizing use of hard surfaces.

Step 3 - Enrich the Ecosystem

While reducing contamination of water reaching the Creek is essential to improving water quality, it is also important to positively nurture the role that biodiversity plays in maintaining a healthy ecosystem in our yards and gardens. The complex interactions among the microorganisms, plants, and animals living in your soil and among your plants and trees are so important. They result in the degradation or retention of substances that might otherwise contaminate water leaving your yard. Thus, the commitments in Step 3 relate to the essential role that native plants play in the life cycles of resident birds and animals and their food sources and habitats. Here we also stress the importance of shared stewardship among neighbors and community services. And we also encourage the engagement of children as we all learn more about how to establish healthy, vibrant systems in our watershed communities.


Watershed Champion Certification Application

712 Main St
EWS 617
Columbia, South Carolina 29208

Phone (803) 727-8326

Email us

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