Category Archives: Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

DHEC in the News: swimming advisory lifted, Duke Endowment grant, Shem Creek, 111 candles

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

A swimming advisory for a portion of Surfside Beach has been lifted. For access to advisories, tide tables, forecasts and more, visit the coastal resources hub on our website.

RMC Vice President of Strategy & Compliance Brenda Williams led the creation of the Tri-County Health Network as a nonprofit organization in 2012 and currently serves as chair of the network.

“Receiving a grant from The Duke Endowment is a great acknowledgment of the work the Tri-County Health Network is doing in our communities,” Williams said.

“Since its creation, the network has made a significant impact on health in Orangeburg, Calhoun and Bamberg counties by implementing a variety of programs, including community gardens, faith-based health programs, area health summits and chronic disease forums,” she said. “This funding will allow the network to have an even greater reach.”

  • Two areas of Shem Creek have still not been cleared for swimming:

The good news is that three areas previously flagged on Shem Creek for high levels of bacteria have been cleared for swimming after a Wednesday water quality test by the Charleston Waterkeeper.

Unfortunately, two of several areas on the report remain “in the red.”

Exposure to water is still discouraged at Brittlebank Park and James Island Creek (test site 2).

  • While DHEC doesn’t keep track of how many South Carolinians are over 100, we wish a happy birthday to Laura Wright, who celebrated her 111th birthday this week:

Laura Wright’s devotion to solving crossword puzzles was put on hold Thursday as family and friends celebrated her 111th birthday.

The retired teacher attributes her longevity to “the hands of the Lord.”

No one knows if she is the oldest person living in South Carolina, although amateur genealogists consulted by her relatives say she is in the running for that title.

For more news from DHEC, visit Live Healthy SC.

DHEC in the News: groundwater meeting, no-swimming advisory, West Columbia treatment underway

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

  • A public meeting was held Wednesday in Aiken County to discuss groundwater usage in the western counties of South Carolina:

The purpose of Wednesday’s meeting was to discuss a state plan to — for the first time — oversee groundwater withdrawals in a seven-county area, including Aiken, Lexington and Orangeburg.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has proposed requiring anyone wanting to take large amounts of groundwater to receive state permits, as is already done along South Carolina’s coast. The agency plans a series of meetings, including one in Lexington, to gain public input before asking the department’s board to designate the seven counties as an area requiring regulation. The agency plans to take the matter to the board in October.

Sean Torrens with DHEC’s Pee Dee Environmental Affairs office says the area affected is 16th Avenue North.  According to Torrens, temporary advisory signs were placed at the location.

“Routine sampling yielded a 645 CFU/100 ml at WAC-030,” according to the release.

DHEC’s website clarifies that swimming is not advised if the bacteria measurement is greater than 104.  The sample collected Tuesday was more than six times higher than that threshold.

  • West Columbia officials are working to  resolve a sewage spill in a neighborhood pond:

The incident happened in a pond in the Quail Hollow neighborhood, and homeowners are concerned. The spill occurred in a manhole on June 2 and was reported by the Congaree River Keeper. By the morning of June 3, crews worked to clean the spill.

On June 4, crews went back to the pond to ensure the spill was cleaned correctly and noticed sewage. The city reported the issue to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or SCDHEC.

Anna Huffman with the City of West Columbia said that the city is working to resolve the issue and are following the “proper protocols and procedures as advised by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.”

SCDHEC tested the water on Tuesday and reported that the bacteria in the water was at 82.3. SCDHEC only restricts swimming at a level of 359 or higher.

For more news from DHEC, visit Live Healthy SC.

Be safe and have fun this Memorial Day, and all summer

By Adrianna Bradley

Warmer temperatures and longer days mean more families are heading outdoors to have fun in the sun. But don’t let the tranquil weather fool you. This time of year holds significant health and safety hazards, and DHEC wants to make sure your Memorial Day and summer plans are, above all, safe and fun.

Stay safe when swimming

Memorial weekend is traditionally the unofficial start of summer, which includes the openings of swimming pools and other outdoor water activities. It’s this time of year that many families from within and outside of South Carolina hit the roads to visit our state’s beautiful coastal beaches.ocean-water-quality--blog

Swimming in an ocean or pool is an excellent outdoor activity for the whole family and it’s important to make sure everyone is equipped with sunscreen.  The sun is fun when you protect yourself from harmful, burning ultraviolet (UV) rays. Practicing sun safety plays an important role in the prevention of skin cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 before going outdoors. Reapply sunscreen if it wears off after swimming, sweating or toweling off.

Protect yourself from insect bites

Sunscreen isn’t all you should arm yourself with: Use an insect repellent containing SprayHands-Zika2Deet to protect your family from insects while outdoors.  The repellent is safe and, when used as directed, is the best way to protect against mosquito bites, ticks and other biting insects; children and pregnant women should protect themselves also.

Watch out for rip currents

It’s also important to be knowledgeable about rip currents or rip tides at the beach. Rip currents are responsible for many deaths on our nation’s beaches every year and can occur in any body of water that has breaking waves, not just the ocean. Currents at the beach can move to different locations along the coast and can be deadly both to swimmers and those in waist deep water where the rip current occurs. Be sure to check in with lifeguards, who can alert you to areas that have rip current potential.

Be aware of ocean life

While most jellyfish in South Carolina’s coastal waters carry a mild sting, it’s still important to avoid touching all jellyfish in the water or washed on the beach. Do not try to touch or pick them up. Many have tentacles that can discharge venom-filled stingers into your skin, causing a sting. Another marine creature showing up on our coast recently are Portuguese Man of War. Like jellyfish, these creatures also have stinging cells that are capable of stinging even after they are dead. Do not touch them. If you do get stung, rinse the affected area with vinegar or apply baking soda and then soak in warm water.

Small sharks are also common in shallow ocean water and typically do not pose a threat to humans.  Be sure not to swim near fishing piers as these areas tend to attract more sharks.

Below are some more tips to keep you and your family safe and healthy at the beach or pool:iStock_51595250_XXLARGE cute kids swim class

  • Always supervise children when in or around water.
  • Dress in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing if it is hot outside. Stay cool with cool showers or baths. Seek medical care immediately if anyone has symptoms of heat-related illness, including a headache, nausea, dizziness, heavy sweating, and an elevated body temperature.
  • Stay hydrated. Your body loses fluids through sweat. Drink more water than usual — two to four cups of water every hour you are outside. Also, try to avoid alcohol intake to prevent dehydration.
  • Cover up. Clothing that covers your skin helps protect against UV rays. Be sure to apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
  • Be aware of swim and water quality advisories and avoid swimming in those areas.
  • Do not enter the water with cuts, open sores or lesions; naturally-occurring bacteria in the water may cause infection.
  • Do not swim in or allow children to play in swashes of water or near storm water drainage pipes. These shallow pools are caused by runoff from paved surfaces and often contain much higher levels of bacteria and pollutants than the ocean. Permanent water quality advisories are indicated by signs in these areas.
  • Do not swim in the ocean during or immediately following rainfall. Heavy rain can wash bacteria and possibly harmful pollutants into the surf. To reduce the risk of illness, wait at least 12 hours after a heavy rain to resume swimming.

Be sure to check your local news and weather forecast for information on heat and beach advisories before planning any type of outdoor activities.

New Tide Tables for the New Year

 

Ghost Crab at Sunrise

Ghost Crab at Sunrise

A new year is on the horizon, and South Carolinians who want to update their calendars with a new year of tidal information can now get the 2017 Tide Table Poster from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

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.

Coastal Photography 

DHEC holds its Coastal Photography Contest each year to determine the featured photograph for the new Tide Table Poster and web page. Nearly 100 photos were received during the 2016 contest, and Michael Trotman was selected with his winning photo, Ghost Crab at Sunrise on Isle of Palms. Congratulations, Michael!

Where to Get Your Tide Table Poster

Limited supplies of printed Tide Tables are available at DHEC OCRM offices in Charleston, Beaufort and Myrtle Beach. A foldable, desktop version of the chart is also available online. To learn more about the Tide Tables and to download the 2017 poster, click here.

King Tides Program

king-tide-photoDHEC 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.

 

Cigarette Litter Reduction Pilot Study: Folly Beach

Is it possible to reduce cigarette litter along a stretch of beach by educating people about the perils of tossing butts on the ground and enhancing options for disposing of the waste?

That’s the question DHEC’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) tackled over the past year through a pilot project conducted along a short stretch of a South Carolina beach.

Monitoring cigarette litter at Folly Beach

The project began in 2015, when OCRM received a grant from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct a cigarette litter reduction pilot study on Folly Beach in Charleston County. The pilot strategy involved targeted education and enhancement of cigarette litter disposal options. Additionally, OCRM monitored cigarette litter on the beach both before and after the project began in order to estimate its impact.cigarettelitterfacts

In late 2015, the team began designing educational materials, including flyers and foldable beach ashtrays, to increase public awareness and encourage proper disposal of cigarette litter. These materials were distributed at businesses on Folly Beach from June through September 2016.

In January 2016, new cigarette receptacles were installed at 15 walkovers on Folly. Previously installed receptacles were often used for disposal of non-smoking-related litter, which resulted in the receptacles becoming clogged. The new receptacles, made of sturdy PVC material, included an opening just wide enough to fit a cigarette butt.

The results: A reduction in cigarette litter

Monitoring events were conducted in September 2015 before implementing the project strategy, and in September 2016 after implementation.

buttsinabucket

While there are a number of factors that influence the number of cigarette butts encountered on the beach on any given day, including tidal and weather conditions,  a comparison of the 2015 and 2016 post-Labor Day monitoring results shows that approximately 200 fewer cigarettes per person-hour were collected in 2016 than in 2015. In total, nearly 10,000 cigarette butts were removed from the 0.25-mile monitoring area over the course of this study. For more information on this pilot study, visit the project webpage.