Abandoned boats a growing problem on Waterway

Little River, SC - By A.J. Ross - bio | email

LITTLE RIVER, SC (WMBF) – With several large abandoned boats dotting the Intracoastal Waterway, Horry County leaders and residents say they are concerned.

The boats range in size from 30-40 feet, and according to different accounts, these vessels have been an eyesore for the past several years.

"These boats are just junk laying out here in the middle of the waterway," said Ronald McManus with the Freedom Boat Group. "It is just ridiculous for our tourists to come down here and see and it's a very serious problem."

Horry County Councilman Brent Schulz agrees something needs to be done to resolve what he calls a growing problem.

"I think part of it has to do with the economy," he explained. "I think people cannot afford to pay the dockage to keep the boats up and they leave the boats abandoned."

According to Schulz, the county does not have the means nor the jurisdiction to resolve the issue alone.

"The waterway is considered navigable waters of the U.S., so it's going to involve a federal agency or even the state of South Carolina, and I've made calls and I've tried to get on top of this," said Schulz. "I've been told by different groups such as the EPA, Coast Guard and Army Core of Engineers that it's a lack of funding or it's not their jurisdiction or there's several reasons that I get."

According to Robert McCullough with the Department of Natural Resources, his agency identifies the abandoned boats, but local agencies with the county or city where the boats are left are supposed to remove them.

McManus, who received a substantial federal grant to pay for a local artificial reef, claims he would gladly take the abandoned boats away.

"I could go ahead and even pay for cleaning up these fiberglass ones and getting them off the water - all I need is possession of them," said McManus, who claims he also contacted DNR. "I hope that somewhere along the line they, DNR or DHEC or anybody, either give us permission to get these boats and clean things up around here."

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