Members of the Friends of the Edisto organization, or FRED, came together in Edisto Memorial Gardens on Saturday to celebrate the river and the  importance of preserving the valuable natural resource.

The weather could not have been better for showcasing the beauty and tranquility of the Edisto River. Attendees engaged in thoughtful conversations accompanied by chirping birds and live acoustic guitar.

Tim Rogers, the president and chairman of the board of Friends of the Edisto, said, "Today is an annual event ... where we invite our membership to come socialize with each, other eat barbecue, listen to country music and look back on what's happened this past year and look ahead to our challenges in 2018. So, it's a culmination of a year's worth of activity."

The group is currently championing changes to the Surface Water Withdrawal Act passed by the South Carolina Legislature in 2010.

"Friends of the Edisto is a stewardship organization. There's never going to be any finished steady state where our job is done and we can just kick back, you know," said Hugo Krispyn, who helps with outreach for Friends of the Edisto. 

"The river is always going to be facing challenges and demands. Part of our role is to make sure what happens with the river is sustainable," he added.

"The problem with the Surface Water Withdrawal Act, as it stands now, is that it sets up a circumstance where if they allocate everything that they say they can as legally-available water, what they call 'safe yield,' they're going to allocate more water than there is in the river," Krispyn said. "We don't want to see a situation where they've promised something to users who are depending on that resource to the point where there's not enough water for the river to remain healthy as well."

He noted, "We think that the flaws in the law are fairly obvious, and we need action to fix those flaws."

Standing on the river bank behind the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center, Rogers spoke optimistically about FRED's cause.

"There's no place in South Carolina that's any prettier than this vista right here. This is an example of how citizens' groups can come together to help conserve resources," he said.

To learn more about Friends of the Edisto, visit www.edistofriends.org.

Contact the writer: baccenenew@gmail.com.

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