South Carolina loves its beaches and is proud of its coastline, but what many don’t know is that the most congested beaches are often the dirtiest. A recent study by the nonprofits Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group found that 55 of 129 beach sites in South Carolina were tested unsafe for at least one day in 2018.
The study used data from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Environmental Protection Agency that searched the water for fecal matter, or animal and human waste. Coming at no surprise, the Withers Swash portion of Myrtle Beach was the dirtiest, being declared unsafe 32 days in 2018. This particular stretch is home to a creek that empties into the ocean and is one of the most visited beach sites in the state.
Interestingly, in comparison to other states, South Carolina is actually considered to be cleaner. Of the beaches tested in Georgia, half of the sites were considered unsafe, with even more deemed the same in North Carolina.
For those wondering how or when this happens, look out for the days following rainfall. Rain runoff can carry pollution, and most beach closings in South Carolina tend to be after rainstorms leak fecal waste from yards or streets into the water. DHEC declares advisories after this happens until contamination levels from runoff in the water decreases, usually only for a day or two.
Don’t get us wrong, you can still enjoy a day at the beach, just be sure to check DHEC’s Beach Guide. The department provides monitoring and updates in real time to ensure you’ll have a safe day at the beach.