Grand Strand beaches top 'Dirty Beaches' list

Published: Jun. 29, 2011 at 6:44 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 7, 2011 at 12:48 PM EDT
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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Three Grand Strand beaches have been named among the dirtiest in the state, according to a report released Wednesday by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report claims the beaches with the highest percent of contamination exceedance rates in South Carolina for 2010 included Surfside Beach, Myrtle Beach and the Myrtle Beach State Park.

Approximately 15 percent of the 92 samples exceeded state standards at the Myrtle Beach State Park, while 11 percent of the 162 samples taken in Surfside Beach resulted in similar findings. The report analyzes beach water quality, monitoring frequency and how you're notified about the contaminated water.

Experts at Coastal Carolina University tell WMBF News the contamination involved in the study can range anywhere from human and animal waste, like trash and diapers, to storm water run-off.

The report isn't shining Myrtle Beach in a positive light, and it has city officials firing back at its claims.

"It's not really something to freak out about. It's related to storm water," city spokesman Mark Kruea said. "That rain has to go some place, and some of it goes to the ocean."

Researchers say storm water outfalls that reach deeper into the ocean off of the South Carolina coast have improved the state's beach water quality statistics in recent years.

"For example, the beach outfall at 7th Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach was converted to a deep ocean outfall in 2006," the report stated. "The percent of samples exceeding the standard for this portion of North Myrtle Beach dropped from an average of 34 percent between 2002 and 2005 to an average of 2 percent from 2006 to 2010."

The NRDC report claims most pipe outfalls and swashes in Horry County are under permanent rainfall advisories, with signs posted. The signs, according to officials, advise people from swimming near the outfall.

WMBF News found several adults and children playing in storm water outfalls and swashes on Wednesday. When approached and asked if the Grand Strand rankings would deter them from visiting, many said no.

"I've been coming here my whole life," said one man visiting from North Carolina. "I don't see a change – not for that reason."

To read the complete report from the NRDC, click here.

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