Myrtle Beach explains ocean water quality tests, advisories

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The City of Myrtle Beach says water quality advisories stem from wildlife and pet waste and are recommendations, not all-out bans on swimming.

According to a Facebook post from the city, “ocean water quality is excellent in Myrtle Beach,” and advisories affect a small amount of the coastline.

The city says two short-term water quality advisories issued by the Department of Health and Environmental Control were lifted Friday. Last week’s advisors affected less than “two-tenths of one percent of Myrtle Beach’s oceanfront,” the city confirms.

DHEC monitors ocean water from Cherry Grove to the southern end of Hilton Head Island through the use of 123 beach water monitoring stations. The agency samples water twice a month from May 1 to October 1, with beach in Myrtle Beach sampled weekly.

The goal of DHEC’s testing is to determine bacteria level in the water.

“Elevated levels of these bacteria in the water can indicate possible contamination by fecal waste. Enterococcus is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including humans, pets and wildlife,” DHEC confirms.

The city’s post echoes DHEC’s explanation.

“The Grand Strand has no heavy industry and no point-source pollution, so the only concern is wildlife and pet waste from heavy stormwater (rainfall) runoff,” the post reads.

If bacteria readings in Myrtle Beach come back elevated, a short-term advisory is posted for 200 feet north and south of that location. Advisors are usually lifted within a day or two, once water levels return to normal.

When the advisories are issued, people are encouraged to avoid swimming in the affected area, but wading, walking, and sunbathing are ok, according to DHEC.

There are currently no water-quality advisories in Myrtle Beach. Temporary swimming advisories are not issued outside of the May 1 to October 1 season.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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