Flickr User: Jason Barnette Photography
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has released its annual report on water quality and while Horry County beaches, specifically Springmaid Beach, Briarcliffe Acres Beach, and Myrtle Beach were the worst in the state, the area has improved in overall quality.
The results, WMBF reports, are from "individual reports of government water samples taken from the ocean and it measures the amount of bacteria and pollution found floating around." South Carolina ranks at number 17 (2,389 water samples & 22 beaches reporting) out of 30 states in the NRDC's report, with Delaware coming in at number one and Louisiana hitting last place.
What does the Beach monitoing show? Here's the break down according to NDRC:
In 2011, South Carolina reported 63 coastal beaches. Of these, 1 (2%) was monitored more than once a week, 6 (10%) were assigned a monitoring frequency of once a week, 16 (25%) every other week, and 40 (63%) were not assigned a monitoring frequency. In 2011, 8% of all reported beach monitoring samples exceeded the state's daily maximum bacterial standard of 104 colonies/100 ml. The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates of the state standard in 2011 were Springmaid Beach (18%), Briarcliffe Acres Beach (13%), Myrtle Beach (13%), Myrtle Beach State Park and Campgrounds (10%), and Garden City Beach (9%), all in Horry County. Beaches in Horry County had the highest exceedance rate of the state standard in 2011 (11%), followed by Colleton (4%), Charleston (3%), Georgetown (1%), and Beaufort (<1%) counties.
However, locally there have been steps taken to improve the beach water quality and reduce beach erosion in creating constructed stormwater outfalls that discharge deep in the ocean instead of at the beach; "These projects [...] have created significant reductions in the amount of fecal indicator bacteria found in beachwater where they have been implemented (7th Avenue South in N. Myrtle Beach and Deep Head Swash in Myrtle Beach)." The report goes on to say, "In 2011, Myrtle Beach completed construction of the latest ocean outfall, located at 4th Avenue North. This project combined nine existing stormwater drainage pipes that used to discharge at the beach into one pipe that runs underneath the seabed and discharges into the Atlantic Ocean more than 1,000 feet from shore."
Read the full report below and hop on over to the NRDC's website to check out their map of the area.