Category Archives: Environment

DHEC and Grand Strand partners launch CheckMyBeach.com

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has been working with various partners along the Grand Strand to develop an easy and informative way to provide beach swimming safety updates to beachgoers. This collaboration has led to the development of CheckMyBeach.com, a website for looking up helpful information like ocean water quality, swimming advisories, rip currents and more.

CheckMyBeach.com offers information about DHEC’s Beach Monitoring Program, which includes the weekly monitoring of fecal indicator bacteria, specifically Enterococcus, along South Carolina’s coast. If high levels of these bacteria are detected, which usually happens after heavy rains wash contaminants into the ocean, a short-term swimming advisory is issued for that particular spot – but the entire beach is not affected. CheckMyBeach.com links to DHEC’s information on current ocean water sampling results and swimming advisories, and it also provides localized news and updates about Grand Strand area beaches.

DHEC and its partners are excited for the new ways CheckMyBeach.com will keep residents and visitors updated about their favorite beaches. We’re working to spread the word about this new resource in the Grand Strand for the summer of 2020 (Phase I) and looking to expand that effort with new partners to promote CheckMyBeach.com for all of South Carolina’s beaches the following summer (Phase II). In addition to promotion through local media, hospitality and tourism groups, social media and signage at beach access point points, CheckMyBeach.com is the focus of four community “roadshows” in March to help inform the public of this great new information tool. Please see the details below – we hope you can attend!

NOTE: The event on Wednesday, March 18, is available only via YouTube, available following the event at https://www.youtube.com/user/SCDHEC. All future previously-scheduled CheckMyBeach.com roadshow events have been postponed.

Wednesday, March 4
5 p.m.-7 p.m.
North Myrtle Beach City Hall (1018 Second Ave S., North Myrtle Beach)

Wednesday, March 11
5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Myrtle Beach Train Depot (851 Broadway St., Myrtle Beach)

Wednesday, March 18
Virtual CheckMyBeach.com Presentation
12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Video available on YouTube following the event

Monday, March 30 The final CheckMyBeach.com event has been postponed.
5 p.m.-7 p.m.
Surfside Beach Council Chambers (1115 U.S. Highway 17, North Surfside Beach)

DHEC and DNR Work Together to Restore Oyster Beds

DHEC works throughout the year to support healthy people living in healthy communities.

This includes teaming up with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for that agency’s S.C. Oyster Recycling and Enhancement (SCORE) program during Trident United Way’s Day of Caring. SCORE collects oyster shells from 30 sites and then uses these oyster shells to create new oyster beds.  In this way, DHEC and DNR work together to restore and enhance  South Carolina’s coastal resources.

“This opportunity brings the community together from Berkeley, Dorchester, and Charleston counties to make a beneficial impact to our surrounding environment,” said Sean BriggsManager of DHEC’s Compliance and Enforcement Section of Ocean and Costal Resources Management. “By bagging these oyster shells and then later planting them into the environment, we’re contributing directly to the restoration of that environment.”

With an estimated over 300,000 bushels of shells consumed within South Carolina each year, Michael Hodges with DNR emphasized SCORE as a way of promoting conservation of the environment.

“The purpose of the program is to engage the public hands on restoration and foster environmental stewardship,” he said. “We’re always looking for new folks to come and volunteer with us. There are plenty of opportunities for the public to come help us create this new very valuable habitat.”

To learn more about SCORE or sign up to volunteer

Engaging in projects such as this one demonstrates DHEC’s core value of promoting teamwork and shows the agency strategy of science in action.

January is National Radon Action Month

January is National Radon Action Month, and DHEC is encouraging all South Carolinians to test their homes for radon.

Radon is a cancer causing, radioactive gas that you cannot see, smell, or taste, and is responsible for more than 21,000 deaths in the U.S. each year.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. and the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Smokers who are exposed to radon have an even higher risk of lung cancer.

Nearly one out of every 15 homes in the U.S. is estimated to have elevated radon levels. Any home can have a radon gas problem. The only way to determine if your home is trapping radon is to test.

Each year, the South Carolina Radon Program provides a limited number of radon test kits to homeowners free of charge. Request your free home test kit at www.scdhec.gov/radon.

Homes can be modified to reduce radon levels, and new homes can be built with radon-resistant features. South Carolina has nationally certified radon professionals who can measure radon and fix homes with elevated radon. Find a certified mitigation specialist.

Governor’s Proclamation

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued an official proclamation recognizing January 2020 as Radon Action Month.

2020 Tide Table now available

A new year is on the horizon, and South Carolinians interested in updating their calendars with a new year of tidal information can now get the 2020 Tide Table Poster from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). 

2020 Tide Tables are now available online and at DHEC OCRM offices in Charleston, Myrtle Beach, Beaufort, and DHEC’s main location in Columbia.

The Tide Table Posters are produced by DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) to help citizens monitor and plan for tidal events along the coast. The tables provide daily tidal information based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) tide predictions, including dates and times of high tides with corresponding water levels, and dates and times of low tides. 

Where to Get Your Tide Table Poster 

Limited supplies of printed Tide Tables are available at DHEC OCRM offices in Charleston, Beaufort, Myrtle Beach, and DHEC’s main location in Columbia. A foldable, desktop version of the chart is also available online. To learn more about the Tide Tables and to download the 2020 poster, click here

Coastal Photography  

DHEC holds a Coastal Photography Contest each year to determine the featured photograph for the new Tide Table Poster and web page. More than 400 photos were received during the 2019 contest, and Kristen Kappel was selected with her winning photo, “Pernicious Beauty.” Congratulations, Kristen! 

“Pernicious Beauty” by Kristen Kappel, winner of the 2019 Coastal Photography Contest

King Tides Program 

Joe Cronin submitted this photo taken on October 1, 2019 of Andell Bluff Blvd. on Seabrook Island to the King Tides Program.

DHEC is leading the South Carolina King Tides initiative to document the effect that extreme tide events have on our state’s beaches, coastal waterways, private property and public infrastructure. 

Through the initiative, citizen scientists can submit their photos of king tide events to help DHEC monitor and respond to coastal environmental issues. The photos are included in DHEC’s long-term analysis of coastal vulnerability and planning initiatives with municipalities. 

To participate in the South Carolina King Tides Initiative, click here

DHEC In the News: Flu season is here, Sand mine permits, Dispose of Vaping Devices

Here’s a look at health and environmental news around South Carolina.

Is it too early to be thinking about flu season? The CDC says no

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WLTX.com) It may still feel like summer outside, but the seasons will change in a few weeks. Influenza viruses circulate all year, but flu activity usually begins to pick up in October and peaks between December and February, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

DHEC considering sand mine permit in Cottageville

WALTERBORO, S.C. (The Press and Standard) A proposal to establish a sand mine in the Cottageville area will be the topic of a South Caroline Department of Health and Environmental Control public hearing next month. The public hearing on Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of Cottageville Elementary School, 648 Peirce Rd., will give residents an opportunity to voice their comments and views about MC Dirt Co. LLC of Summerville’s permit application.

Want to Get Rid of Vaping Devices? Now You Can Hand Them Over to the Feds

SACRAMENTO, C.A. (The Sacramento Bee) People throughout the Southeast can hand over their vaping devices as an “emerging public health threat” looms, federal officials say. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced its Charlotte District Office was teaming up with local officials to accept vaping devices and cartridges at sites across the region on Saturday.

DHEC continues to monitor and update confirmed and probable cases of severe pulmonary disease related to e-cigarette use or vaping.