Both the lower Saluda and Congaree Rivers are great locations for public fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tubing, swimming, wading and more. But these activities involve contact with natural waters, which can periodically be affected by short-term pollution issues, especially after heavy rains.

That's why a group of Midlands river stakeholders is undertaking a water-quality monitoring program for the Lower Saluda and Congaree Rivers this summer, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). The Lower Saluda River Coalition launched its first in a planned series of weekly water quality data reports and swimming advisories on June 22.

The program, which includes eight monitoring locations, runs through September. Samples will be collected weekly and results from the sampling will be posted on the website the following day.

The coalition encourages people to check conditions before their next outings to the river so they can make informed decisions on when and where to best enjoy the water safely. features maps of the rivers to show swimming advisories based on results of weekly bacteria level monitoring.

This is the first program of its type for South Carolina's inland waters and rivers, but similar programs for coastal waters have been in place for many years in locations such as Myrtle Beach.

The Lower Saluda River Coalition is made up of about twenty river stakeholders, including river-related businesses, environmental groups, local and state governments, property owners, industry, utilities and other users of the rivers.