Myrtle Beach Water Quality. Are We “Turning The Tide?”

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David Hucks
David Hucks
David Hucks 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


Former AVX Plant on 17th Ave South.  Closed for ground water contamination
Former AVX Plant on 17th Ave South. Closed for ground water contamination

In a meeting with local residents this past Thursday,  City Government explained the new retention pond being installed by the Walmart Neighborhood store at 17th Avenue South.   This retention pond will trap and contain storm run off from various sources on the South end of Myrtle Beach and act as a global collection pool of those storm waters.

We asked Jane Curry,  of the City of Myrtle Beach, if that water would be treated before it went back into either the Intra Coastal Water Way or the Atlantic Ocean.  She explained that the toxins in the water would be trapped,  not treated.   Using extension ditches, and other trapping methods,  the city says these storm waters will have a slow reduction in pollutions as they head back into the larger water supply.  They also pointed out that the new south end deep ocean outfall pumped these storm waters farther out to sea instead of emptying them just along the shoreline. previously covered problems associated with the ocean outfall system off the coast of Myrtle Beach.   One  key concern with the 17th Ave South area retention ponds involve the now closed AVX plant located across from where the new Walmart Neighborhood store will be built this Fall.  As this PDF put out by the South Carolina Department of Health And Environmental Control states,  Chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) were used at this location in the manufacturing of ceramic capacitors until 1993.  In 1981, AVX discovered that shallow groundwater beneath the Facility was impacted by VOC’s.  AVX conducted assessment and some remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater was attempted without the Department’s knowledge from 1981 until 1995.  Local residents are still unclear as to how contaminated the groundwater is in this area.

A second storm water concern involves last Fall’s South Carolina “1000 Year Flood” event.   Events like these simply act as a flushing agent pushing larger amounts of pesticides, fertilizers, motor chemicals and other toxic wastes out into rivers and oceans., in looking into the history of outfall drainage in Myrtle Beach since the 1970’s, and at what has and has not been done to assure water quality in the waters where street runoff is dumped, continues to raise concerns about our current water quality.

A foundational issue involves whether or not “no bid contracts” should be granted for such work awarded to a local engineering firm with multiple interlocking connections to local government and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.  Has it been in the best interest of our tourists, our residents,  and of the marine environment for the city to grant such bids?  The 17th Avenue storm retention environment impacts some of our most important resources as a tourist destination and as a seafood harvesting area.

The city continues to tell us that it is too expensive to treat these storm waters in the coming 17th Avenue retention ponds.   It is more cost effective and very legal to simply trap it they say.

We ask,  how expensive is not treating it?   Myrtle Beach is a $3 billion tourist economy.

City Government should think this one through.

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