DHEC Receives Two National GIS Awards

By Betsy Crick

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Pictured from left to right:  Seth Church, Elzbieta Covington, Wes Askew, Jeannie Eidson, Craig Linn, and Phil Weinbach.  (Not pictured – Josh Boulware, who works out of DHEC’s Ocean and Coastal Resource Management office) 

DHEC’s Division of Enterprise Applications, led by GIS Section Manager Philip Weinbach, was recently recognized at The Public Technology Institute (PTI) Smart Cities and Counties Summit with a 2015 PTI GIS Vision Award​.  A geographic information system (GIS) helps individuals visualize, question, analyze, and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. This prestigious, annual award is presented to outstanding individuals from within local and state government who have demonstrated a leadership role in GIS tools and sharing of GIS data across boundaries.

According to PTI Executive Director Alan Shark, “DHEC, along with the other award recipients, understand how to better serve and protect the public, and to enhance real-time decision-making through the use of GIS tools and data.  Individuals who are recognized as GIS Vision Award recipients have contributed to advancing enterprise-wide GIS, articulated a clear vision and recognized innovation, demonstrated leadership, and served as a champion for the use of GIS across and within the city, county and state.  I congratulate you for your leadership and for your vision!”

DHEC has also been selected to receive a Special Achievement in GIS award at the 2015 Esri User Conference.  Esri inspires and enables people to positively impact the future through a deeper, geographic understanding of the changing world around them.  The Special Achievement in GIS award is given to user sites around the world to recognize outstanding work with GIS technology.  DHEC stood out from more than 100,000 others in receiving this award.  ​

The GIS Section at DHEC has made great strides in developing many publicly available applications using the JavaScript programming language.  These applications are mobile ready and work across platforms, iOS and Android.  The team has worked closely with program areas to add interactive mapping to our website​, which includes topics such as air monitoring, permits and planning, public health, water resources, and much more.

Congratulations to our entire GIS team for these outstanding accomplishments!

 

It’s time to Fight the Bite!

By Jim Beasley
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Mosquitoes. They bite. They bother. They can carry diseases.

That’s why DHEC needs you to help stop the potential spread of mosquito-borne viruses such as West Nile and chikungunya.

West Nile virus first appeared in South Carolina more than a decade ago. Birds are “reservoirs” for the virus, but it’s pesky mosquitoes that first feed on the blood of those birds, then transmit the virus when biting people.

Do your part

DHEC seeks your help tracking the re-emergence of West Nile in the Palmetto State by collecting certain types of dead birds and delivering them to DHEC offices for lab testing.

Dr. Chris Evans is a Ph.D. entomologist with the DHEC Bureau of Laboratories, who performs lab analysis on blue jays, crows, house sparrows, and house finches.

“By having citizens watch out for these dead birds and submitting them to us, we broaden our ability to identify areas of the state where mosquitoes are spreading illness,” Evans said. “It’s easy to be involved. Just go to www.scdhec.gov/birdtesting and read about the safe and simple way to submit a bird to us for testing.”

Take steps to protect

The best way to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses is to prevent mosquito bites in the first place:

  • Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.  If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
  • When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
  • Use insect repellents
    • Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long lasting protection.
    • If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
    • Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
    • Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
    • Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent or sunscreen.

For additional information on mosquitoes in South Carolina, click here. Learn more about the diseases mosquitoes can spread on our website.

Preventing marine debris

By Dan Burger, Director, Coastal Services Division
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Do you have a garage full of old fishing gear? If you do, the Clean Marine Event in Charleston is for you!

April 24-26, DHEC will be working with S.C. SeaGrant, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other partners to provide disposal sites in Charleston County to get rid of unwanted fishing and boating gear before it becomes marine debris.

Marine debris is a serious problem across South Carolina’s coast. Lost fishing gear, such as crab pots and monofilament line, can seriously harm — and even kill — the birds, turtles, fish and dolphins that make the Lowcountry so special. For example, crab traps can trap and drown turtles; monofilament line entangles and injures birds, dolphins, turtles and other animals.

Clean Marine Disposal Event Dates and Times:

  • Friday, April 24, 2015 from 12 PM – 6 PM
  • Saturday, April 25, 2015 from 8 AM – 6 PM
  • Sunday, April 26, 2015 from 8 AM – 6 PM

Find trash and recycling containers at these marinas and boat landings:

  • Dawhoo Landing on Edisto Island
  • Cherry Point Landing on Wadmalaw Island
  • John P. Limehouse Landing on Johns Island
  • Folly River Landing on Folly Island
  • Wappoo Cut on James Island
  • Charleston City Marina in Downtown Charleston
  • Cooper River Marina in North Charleston
  • Remley’s Point in Mount Pleasant
  • Robert L. Ashley Boat Landing in McClellanville

Also, Bees Ferry Landfill will waive the tipping fee for any personal boats and trailers brought directly to that location on Friday, April 24 (8 AM – 4 PM) and Saturday, April 25 (8 AM – 3 PM) only.

What items will be accepted?

  • Fishing gear: crab traps, nets, fishing line, tackle boxes, fishing rods and reels, etc.
  • Boating gear: dock lines, life jackets, coolers, fenders, buoys, etc.
  • Boat motors (must be drained of oil and gas)
  • Boat batteries
  • Hazardous household waste: paints, oils, thinners, solvents (must be in a sealed container)
  • Trailer tires

What items are NOT accepted?

  • Gasoline
  • Flares or any explosives
  • Firearms
  • Commercial grade hazardous household waste

Learn more by visiting the Clean Marine page of Facebook at https://facebook.com/CleanMarineSC.

Properly disposing of your marine waste today will help keep our coastal waters cleaner tomorrow!

Syzygy and South Carolina

By Jim Beasley
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Some people believe the planets have to “align” in order to have good fortune. But the actual alignment of the sun, Earth and moon can result in dangerously high tides, too.

In South Carolina, the impact of extreme high tides, also known as “King Tides,” is often evident in the Lowcountry around Charleston, Beaufort and Hilton Head. For example, in Charleston, the typical high tide is about 5.5 feet; during a King Tide event the high tide might reach 7 feet or greater. That’s why our Division of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management has become involved in monitoring these higher-than-normal high tides to document their effects on our coast.

What are King Tides?

King Tides is a term that describes the highest seasonal tides that occur each year. These tides occur naturally and are typically caused when the moon is closest to us during its 28-day cycle and aligns with the sun and the Earth. In some cases, King Tides might not be noticed. In other cases, they can cause coastal erosion, flooding of low-lying areas and disruption to normal daily routines. King Tides can also expose critical infrastructure to corrosive saltwater. Over time, the frequency, duration and effect of King Tide events might increase due to a gradual rise in the sea level.

Help us Track the Tides!

high-tide-gtown-3-1-14In 2014, we launched our King Tides Initiative to encourage people to snap and submit their photographs as these seasonal high tides exceed their normal levels and produce flooding along low-lying areas.

To get involved in this initiative, you can upload your photos and submit a King Tides report to the MyCoast website, or by downloading the MyCoast App (now available in the App Store and Google Play).  Your photos and reports will help us with our long-term analysis of coastal vulnerability and in planning initiatives with coastal communities.

The next King tides event is scheduled for this coming Friday through Monday (April 17-20​). So keep your smartphone handy and take a moment to snap and submit a photo to help us better understand the potential threats King Tides pose to our state’s beautiful coastal areas.

Working together to SCale Down

By Cassandra Harris
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With the launch of South Carolina’s Obesity Action Plan in the fall of last year, a new phase of obesity prevention work began in our state.  Supporting this effort, which is being conducted through the SCale Down Initiative, partners from across the state have been working diligently on projects and programs to help move the needle on obesity in SC. Here are some early successes:

Creating Healthier Worksites      

Impacting nearly 35,000 state employees, the new A Healthier State initiative is promoting improved health by providing comprehensive baseline worksite assessments, model policies, and wellness consultation services to the S.C. Governor’s Office, all 16 cabinet agencies, DMH, and DHEC.

Engaging the Health Care Community

The South Carolina Academy of Physician Assistants (SCAPA) recently hosted a video-conference entitled: “A How-To for South Carolina Physician Assistants: Communities & Practices Join the Obesity Fight.”  The event highlighted the 2015 County Health Rankings and the SCale Down Initiative and provide training on the Let’s Go! 5-2-1-0 Childhood Obesity Toolkit.

Assessing Student Fitness

With the help of a $2.5 million grant from the BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina Foundation, DHEC is coordinating the statewide implementation of FitnessGram.  Potentially reaching over 740,000 SC public school students, this project will allow students to set their own health goals, help school administrators to make policy choices for physical fitness and offer a place to track student-specific data.

SCale Down is a collaborative initiative that connects and engages partners to achieve the objectives outlined in the state’s Obesity Action Plan and helps eliminate duplication of efforts. If you are interested in learning more about SCale Down or in getting involved in the initiative, please visit www.scaledown.org.

Partners from across the State gathered at the SC Medical Association on March 25, 2015 for a SCale Down Initiative Stakeholder Briefing.