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City of Myrtle Beach rates S.C.’s dirtiest bacteria beach

This week, America’s largest newspaper, USA Today, rated Myrtle Beach as the dirtiest beach in S.C. for beach bacteria.

Myrtle Beach was the key city in the State of S.C. to make the paper’s list. The city tested unsafe ten to twenty times more often than any other area in South Carolina.

Myrtle Beach is 20 times more unsafe than most S.C. cities

While one testing area in the City of North Myrtle Beach at 17th Ave South made the list, Myrtle Beach testing areas comprised all others. Myrtle Beach areas tested unsafe 20% of the time during testing season.

Withers Swash is located on the beach in front of the Family Kingdom on 3rd Avenue South. Of seventy (70) samples taken at Withers Swash from May through September, tests came back unsafe 46% of the time.

The report validates research done by our news team over the past 5 years.

WHAT CAUSES MYRTLE BEACH TO RATE SO POORLY?

As MyrtleBeachSC news reports, over the past 40 years, Myrtle Beach City Government has not properly maintained its water and sewer infrastructure. Thirty three (33) percent of the city’s sewer pipes are 30 to 40 years old or older. The pipes are decaying, collapsing, seeping and crumbling. Spills from two broken pipes in 2018 and 2019 leaked 120,000 gallons of untreated sewage.

Myrtle Beach Sewage Pipes
Rusted city of Myrtle Beach sewage pipes. High profile leaks and collapses concern locals.

Corroded and compromised pipes in the city limits leak and seep sewage into the water table ongoing. After heavy rains, leaking pipes flood area beach swashes with high levels of ecoli related bacteria.

Several of the pipes collapsed in 2019. We covered that story here: https://myrtlebeachsc.com/city-knowingly-puts-citizens-tourists-at-health-risk-33-of-sewer-pipes-30-to-40-years-old-leaking-collapsing/

SCDHEC: WHO’s MINDING THE STORE?

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is the government agency charged with regulating the City of Myrtle Beach’s beach bacteria. We reached out to SCDHEC Tommy Crosby Director of Media Relations , SCDHEC Division Director Rob Devlin, and SCDHEC Chief Bureau of Water Director Dr. Mike Marcus informing them of this public health issue. Our news team pointed out that we believe were the City of Myrtle Beach a private business concern, that business would have been closed by SCDHEC.

DHEC is quick to close any private pool or private business that rates as unsafe. Why is Myrtle Beach city government treated differently?

Myrtle Beach was a key coastal city that lobbied SCDHEC to change the readings in 2019. City leadership claimed that former readings scared off potential tourists.

SCDHEC agreed to change the rating to a five (5) year average for the city, instead of the per test ratings that previously ran as high as 9500 at some testing sites. Any reading over 104 is considered unsafe for swimming by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Myrtle Beach Dunes Club Swash
Health Department Numbers for September 14, 2017 at Myrtle Beach Dunes Club

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About David Hucks

Born in 1961, David is a 12th generation descendant of the area we now call Myrtle Beach, S.C. David attended Coastal Carolina University and like most of his family, has never left the area. David is the lead journalist at MyrtleBeachSC.com

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