Home Beach Conditions WHILE OFFICIALS REMAIN SILENT ON “NO SWIM” ADVISORY – DHEC SPEAKS

WHILE OFFICIALS REMAIN SILENT ON “NO SWIM” ADVISORY – DHEC SPEAKS

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IMG_0314 (2015_11_25 03_56_21 UTC)

After hearing from the State DHEC office on Monday morning, we reached out to our City Manager John Pedersen, Mayor John Rhodes, and all of City Council asking them why the city of Myrtle Beach does not currently treat stormwater runoff coming from the city so as to protect our environment and create a safer swimming experience for both tourists and local residents?   None of the eight city representatives we reached out to returned our emails.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  THE CITY OF NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, THE CITY OF GARDEN CITY BEACH, LITCHFIELD BEACH, and PAWLEYS ISLAND beach  maintain ongoing the highest water quality readings DHEC gives which is good water quality.

Related Story: MYRTLE BEACH AREA CHAMBER IS PUTTING OUT  WATER QUALITY INFORMATON THAT CONFLICTS WITH DHEC

Pocket Camping Blanket $10.99

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Jim Beasley, Public Information Director DHEC Media Relations contacted us on Monday.  Beasley thanked MyrtleBeachSC.com for getting the word out to tourists and locals regarding the LONG TERM NO SWIM ADVISORY .  The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is the official state rating agency for ocean water quality.

Jim confirmed the advisory DHEC has posted for beaches inside the city limits of Myrtle Beach is indeed current and added that certain sections in our area had largely been on the SWIMMING NOT ADVISED report now for over 6 years.   Beasley stated, “Myrtle Beach began posting long-term swimming advisory signs at beaches in 2007. Currently, 23 beaches in the Grand Strand area have long-term signs. Beaches with these signs are shown as having swimming advisories on the DHEC website (http://gis.dhec.sc.gov/beachaccess/). Signs typically advise against swimming due to the potential of high bacteria levels, especially after heavy rainfall.”  Areas currently in question on the DHEC site will not be tested again until May 2016.

Why does the city of Myrtle Beach consistently get higher elevated bacteria ratings?  Jim stated, “Much of the stormwater that enters water bodies is not regulated, including that flowing from parking lots, rooftops, yards etc. When heavy rains fall, the water “washes” the ground cleaner, taking anything left behind by people, and depositing directly into the nearest body of water — whether it is a stream, lake or the ocean. The best way to reduce this form of pollution is through educating the public.  Whenever high bacteria levels result from heavy rainfall, we will typically issue an additional, temporary advisory for the area — such as in August of last year for one area along the Grand Strand (http://www.scdhec.gov/Agency/NewsReleases/2015/nr20150508-01/).”  This past Fall the state of SC experienced a 1,000 year flood event.  This event worked as a flushing agent creating the largest rains our area had seen in 1,000 years.

Myrtle Beach Works To Get Off List of Dirtiest Beaches
Myrtle Beach Works To Get Off List of Dirtiest Beaches

As we have reported,  the DHEC Information Director stressed that a NO SWIMMING ADVISORY rating does not mean that the beach or an area of the city beach is closed.  In fact all city of Myrtle Beach beaches remain open and are expected to remain open.  A no swim advisory indicates that bacteria levels are above the accepted levels and therefore the state of SC cautions locals and tourists against swimming in such areas.   Wading, fishing, and shell collecting do not pose a risk, however.  The most common recreational water illnesses from swimming in ocean areas with high bacteria readings are gastrointestinal and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. These illnesses result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing organisms. Contact with contaminated water can also cause upper respiratory (ear, nose and throat), and wound infections. Young children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable to recreational water illnesses.

Beasley added, “There are specifc categories of stormwater that are regulated, such as stormwater from construction sites (sediment runoff), some industrial facilities (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System discharges) and MS4s (municipal separate storm sewer systems). These types of sites are required to utilize best management practices and meet federal and state regulatory requirements.” 

In short,  the state of S.C. can legally hold construction sites and industrial facilities to a higher state law mandate than they can the general stormwater runoff practices of a local municipality, like the city of Myrtle Beach. 

After hearing from the State DHEC office on Monday morning, we reached out to our City Manager John Pedersen, Mayor John Rhodes, and all of City Council asking them why the city of Myrtle Beach does not currently treat stormwater runoff coming from the city so as to protect our environment and create a safer swimming experience for both tourists and local residents?   None of the eight city representatives we reached out to returned our emails.

As for now,  the LONG TERM NO SWIM ADVISORY remains in place from the readings of last October and will remain until testing results show otherwise. The next testing will not occur by DHEC until May.   Results will be posted on the DHEC website.

MyrtleBeachSC.com will closely monitor those results.  We care about public safety, our beaches, and our environment.  We also believe tourists, merchants and residents are responsible for holding local governments accountable.   We continue to reach out to our city elected officials for a response.

Is it unreasonable to insist that no beach inside the city limits of Myrtle Beach ever have so much harmful bacteria that it makes this type of list? (thanks Jeremy Swiller)

Several merchants and residents called in on Monday as well responding that a storm water runoff fee was charged as a regular part of their monthly water bill.   Residents asked us what the purpose of this fee was and why collections on this fee were not being used to solve our above acceptable bacteria readings?   At this time, we look for those answers  from  the city of Myrtle Beach as well.

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Long-Term Swimming Advisory
Long-term swimming advisory signs are posted at this location. Swimming is not advised within 200 feet on either side of the sign because high bacteria levels may be present, especially following rain due to storm water runoff. Wading, fishing, and shell collecting do not present a risk. Health problems typically come from swallowing the water.

  The most common recreational water illnesses from swimming in ocean areas with high bacteria readings are gastrointestinal and may cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain or fever. These illnesses result from swallowing water contaminated by disease-causing organisms. Contact with contaminated water can also cause upper respiratory (ear, nose and throat), and wound infections. Young children, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable to recreational water illnesses.

 

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