DHEC in the News: Saluda River swim advisory, Mt. Pleasant water, Briarcliffe Acres

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around the state.

Saluda River bacteria levels decrease; advisory still in place
(Columbia, SC – WACH) The amount of bacteria in the Saluda River has decreased, but a swim advisory will remain in place until further notice.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control issued the advisory on Sunday night, a warning that should be taken seriously.

According to Robert Yanity from DHEC, a discharge from a nearby Carolina Water Services treatment plant caused bacteria levels to rise. A test yielded shocking results.

“They’re required to meet that 349 level I believe it is – as far as their E. coli marker and they were over that about 900 or so,” Yanity says.

The levels–980.4–are almost three times to state limit. Because of this, Yanity advises people to take caution before getting into the water.

Community Frustrated Over Swimming Advisory “Deja Vu”

The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is warning people not to swim in the water at Saluda Shoals Park after finding high levels of bacteria in that section of the Saluda River.

“We’ve got a lot of people that come out here, fishermen swimmers kayakers, we’re all concerned about the quality of our water,” said fisherman Michael Frank.

Bill Stangler, the Congaree Riverkeeper, says he was frustrated when he got the call about more bacteria polluting the river.

“Here we go again, deja vu,” Stangler said. “It’s really a bad place for this to be happening, I mean we’re standing between a canoe/kayak launch, a boat ramp, and another boat ramp across the river. This is where people come to get in the river.”

DHEC says they found “upset conditions” at the Carolina Water Service’s Friarsgate plant towards the end of last week that could have contributed to the bacteria. They also say there were other factors.

“We did see an abundance of rain, so that could have contributed to the higher levels of bacteria that was coming into the water so we can’t say it was all attributed to CWS,” said Robert Yanity with DHEC.

Yanity advises people not to ingest the water or go in with open wounds.

Water Quality Concerns Surrounding Pesticides and Cancer

(Mt. Pleasant, SC – Moultrie News) Approximately two weeks ago, a group of mothers expressed their concerns on social media regarding the number of young males in a general area of Mount Pleasant (Park West, Dunes West, and Rivertowne) who have been diagnosed with brain tumors. During social media conversations and interviews with media, some raised the question of water being a contributing factor. Following this, some residents purchased at-home water testing kits, and some interpreted their results as positive for pesticides.

After learning about customer concerns, Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW) addressed the media and invited customers to join in a conversation regarding MPW’s water quality. On Monday, July 10th, MPW held a community meeting to listen to and discuss concerns with customers. The media was invited to attend and MPW posted full video of this meeting on social media and our website.

Q. Does Mount Pleasant Waterworks test for pesticides?

Yes, both water sources are tested for pesticides. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control set testing guidelines and schedules for pesticides. Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ water sources include groundwater from the Middendorf Aquifer and surface water purchased from Charleston Water System (CWS). EPA and SCDHEC utilize historical testing data to determine the scheduling parameters for pesticides in each water source. Due to consistent non-detection in our groundwater source, DHEC tests for pesticides every three years. Due to regulations related to surface water, DHEC tests the purchased surface water on an annual basis.

Their waste polluted the ocean surf 6 years, now it’s costing them to flush the toilet

It’s been six years since property owners in Briarcliffe Acres were first warned their septic tanks were to blame for sporadically high fecal bacteria readings in the Atlantic Ocean surf.

It’s taken a water quality study, construction of a needed sewer system by neighboring Myrtle Beach and a years-long battle by Briarcliffe Acres’ officials to convince those homeowners to pay the steep sewer system fees and get rid of the septic tanks.

The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has a a long-term swimming advisory posted at Briarcliffe Acres. The warning sign advises against swimming near swashes after heavy rains, when contamination is most likely.

There has been no indication whether state health officials will eliminate the long-term swimming advisory once all property owners are on the sewer system.

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