Saving The May River

About a decade ago, as part of an environmental restoration grant application, about 500 homes near the river were reported to have septic tanks. That number has not changed significantly in the last ten years, in part because most home construction since then have been connected to sewer systems rather than septic tanks.

Yet, we have an increasingly damaging problem with pollution entering the May River.

“The clearing of land for sprawling suburban development is directly linked to the impaired waterways because without enough natural land cover left intact to serve its filtering function, stormwater carries sediment and pollutants across impervious surfaces and directly into the rivers.” (Schueller & Holland, 2000).

While efforts to provide sanitary sewers as broadly as possible are encouraging, these efforts can also divert attention from the leading cause of polluted runoff – poor planning and inappropriate development patterns leading to sprawl.

Similarly, the limited focus of current testing is hindering our monitoring efforts. Testing that is infrequent or that is restricted to only fecal coliform provides little information about safety risks and long term pollution trends. Because of these testing limits, we actually don’t know how safe it is to swim in the headwaters of the May River. Per the Coastal Conservation League, “if the greater Bluffton area is developed according to the approvals as they currently exist, impervious surface will exceed 20% in the May River watershed and edible May River oysters will be a thing of the past.”

So, while the removal of septic tanks is a small part of the solution, it is not, in and of itself, the total solution. We need to focus on smarter land use. Without correcting our problems with suburban sprawl, we will not succeed.

Bluffton Police Assessment for CALEA

There are some who would say the Bluffton Police receiving accrediation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies board in 2009 was nothing less than laughable. They went through the accrediation process faster than any department previously. Others might say the accredidation made it harder to control a bad police chief. But, nonethelss the town of Bluffton has invited public comments as part of a regular assessment of the police department.

A news release said the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is assessing the Bluffton Police Department “to verify that BPD continues to comply with best practices and internationally accepted professional law enforcement standards.”

“The accreditation program requires agencies to comply with state-of-the-art standards in four basic areas: policy and procedures, administration, operations, and support services,” the town said. ”

Personnel and community members “are invited to offer comments at a public information session” starting at 6 p.m. Aug. 8. The release said the comment session will end after the last speaker is heard.

“The session will be conducted via Microsoft Teams with the assessors,” the town said, adding that the link will be provided on its social media channels. CALEA assessors also will accept calls from commenters from 1-3 p.m. Aug. 8 at 843-706-4598.

Written comments can be sent to Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia, 20155.

Residents can apply on online at For more information, contact Sgt. Craig Karafa ( or Lt. Mike Danyov (

Interview With a Former Greater Bluffton Pathways Board Member

Blufftonian: What was Greater Bluffton Pathways?

Buzz McBike: The Mission Statement was to safely connect people and places in Greater Bluffton with pathways and walkways.

Blufftonian: Did it succeed?

Buzz McBike: Between 2005 and 2009 quite a bit was accomplished working with Beaufort County. That is when the pathways on Bluffton Parkway and Buckwalter  Parkway were installed. We also helped facilitate the pathways around McCracken Circle and the Beaufort County Rail Trail. The pathway at New Riverside was installed by the developer and is probably the Town of Bluffton’s only significant installation.

Blufftonian: What’s the difference between a sidewalk and a pathway?

Buzz McBike: What we were looking for was the installation of 10′ to 12′ pathways suitable for walking and biking. A sidewalk will not accommodate both at once. I will offer a little more below.

Blufftonian: Do you consider the organization a success?

Buzz McBike: Yes and No. I don’t think you can consider Bluffton a walk / bike friendly community. The pathways along the parkways aren’t much fun and they are a bit on the dangerous side. We never really connected Savannah to Old Town and Old Town to Hilton Head, which would have been ideal, but we did accomplish a few things as mentioned above.

Blufftonian: Is it free to ride into Palmetto Bluff?

Buzz McBike: I don’t think it is. It was originally, but that changed somewhere along the lines. Too bad. It’s a nice place to ride. New Riverside is a pretty good riding path as most of it is away from the road; unlike the parkways. But you have to navigate the traffic circle to connect to anything. On the bright side, the further you get from Old Town the more polite the drivers are, so crossing the traffic circle is doable. Plus, it’s a bigger circle which gives pedestrians and bikers a greater certainty of the situation as they try to cross. The little circle at RTE 46 and Bluffton Parkway is dangerious for bikers and pedestrians.

Blufftonian: What’s your best recommendation to Blufftonians who want to ride a bike?

Buzz McBike: Put your bike on a bike rack and drive to Hilton Head. It’s pretty close and they have 100+ miles of pathways and 14 miles beaches that are rideable (except at high tide). My wife and I rode 4000 miles on the beach in one year not too long ago, and it was awesome. And, the pathways over there go everywhere. Please make sure you recognize for safety’s-sake that cars always have the right-of-way on Hilton Head Island. That being said, It’s pretty fantastic!

Types of Pathways

Off Road Multi-Use Paths, Leisure Trails and Rail Trails are the same type of bike facility.    Hilton Head Island has 35 public miles of this type of pathway.  Great for families, joggers, walkers, rollerbladers, wheelchairs, baby strollers.  Not suitable for some commuters and cyclists who want a straight fast route and who bike for exercise.  Width (8’ vs 14’), surface quality and maintenance of trail will determine how many people will use these trails on a regular basis.  Generally, the wider, the better, though ten feet wide is the current recommended standard. Narrower pathways create conflict between pedestrians and cyclists.  Concrete or asphalt surface is preferred by most people.

Sidewalks – 5 ft. width is recommended by AASHTO[1]  Cyclists should not ride on sidewalks (with the exception of small children)

Shared Roadways – Bicyclists are legally able to use all roadways, but today many connector roads are seen as unsafe because of traffic speed or traffic volume. All of the following pathways are less expensive than Off Road Multi-Use Paths and each serves a particular purpose.  Many adult cyclists as well as motorists can be comfortable “Sharing the Road.”

Bike Routes on Quiet Roads – Many rural roads in Jasper, Colleton and Hampton Counties have beautiful vistas with low traffic volume.  Bluffton, Beaufort, Port Royal, Yemassee have Historic Districts which are very conducive for exploring by bike. Other than maps and website posting to show suggested routes, no additional funding is necessary.

Wide Curb Lanes – Main Streets such as Paris Ave. in the town of Port Royal has a low volume of traffic and 35 mph or less speed limit with 14’-16’ wide travel lanes.  Cyclists usually feel they have plenty of room to ride comfortably and safely.  When parking is added along these streets, safety diminishes somewhat for the cyclist.

Paved Shoulders   – SC DOT is adding these to both sides of the road along parts of Rt. 170, Rt. 21 and Rt. 46. Additional shoulder width is recommended on heavily traveled and high-speed roads and those carrying large numbers of trucks and RV’s.

4 foot minimum when no curb is present.

5 foot minimum against curb, parking, or guardrail

6 feet recommended for ultimate comfort and safety[2]

Bike Lanes –  Bike lanes carry bike traffic in the same direction as adjacent motor vehicle traffic and should be placed on the right side of the street in each direction of travel.  Most bike lanes are 5-6 feet wide. Bike lanes define and identify bicycling locations. These can be incorporated into a roadway when it is desirable to set aside available road space for preferential use by bicyclists and motorists, and to provide for more predictable movements by each.  Bike lane markings (stencil of cyclist with arrow showing direction of travel) can increase a cyclist’s confidence in motorists not straying into their path of travel. Tinting the bike lane is helpful.  See AASHTO Manual for additional guidelines.

Visit the web archive of the Greater Bluffton Pathways Group


Hell Scared Out Of Bluffton Commissioner By Pickleball

Planning Commission tables proposed Bluffton pickleball club 

Current plans for site include 222 parking spaces, restaurant and clubhouse The last national pickleball tournament had about 2,300 registered players in attendence.

“How can a site like that with 200 parking spaces handle 2,300 people over the time of the tournament?” Commissioner Charles Wetmore said. “That scares the hell out of me.”

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