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Linking Land Use to Water Quality in South Carolina
by: Calvin B Sawyer, S.C. Sea Grant Extension Program


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The Setting
The Need for NEMO
Project Description
The NEMO Strategy

Project Description

NEMO makes use of geographic information system (GIS) technology to help illustrate the connection between land use and water quality. A series of GIS images based on satellite-derived land cover/land use data is the heart of the NEMO program, which also includes a series of fact sheets.

The core presentation of NEMO can be roughly divided into three parts. First, GIS images of topography and drainage systems are used to emphasize the water cycle, the watershed concept and the need for watershed management. Second, the land cover/land use data is interspersed with ground and aerial photographs to show municipal officials the current land use patterns in their region and the common polluted runoff problems associated with each major type of land use.

Finally, existing land use in critical watersheds is compared with "build-out" scenarios (Figure 2) based on zoning regulations. The emphasis here is on potential increases in the amount of impervious surface, which has been demonstrated in the literature to be a key determinant of receiving stream water quality. This relationship can be used as a simple and unifying principle which town officials can reference in the course of their day-to-day land use decisions.

Figure 2 – Waccamaw Neck Impervious Surface Levels

Waccamaw neck impervious surface levels

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