Category Archives: Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

DHEC In the News:  Earthquake emergency preparedness, High Cancer Rates in Anderson County, & Swim Advisories

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

Training keeps first responders up to date with emergency response

KINGSTREE, S.C. (The Kingstree News) On May 16, the Williamsburg County Emergency Management/E-911 Division (EMD) held an Earthquake Tabletop Exercise for Williamsburg County agencies who continually update preparedness in case such an event occurs. There is not a completely reliable method for predicting the time, place and size of an earthquake, especially since the majority of earthquakes occur in the Coastal Plain. Experts do agree that where earthquakes have occurred before, they can again. Therefore it is always important to be prepared.

 

Anderson County cancer rates among the highest in South Carolina and nationally

ANDERSON, S.C. (Anderson Independent Mail) Over the past decade, Anderson County has consistently had more people getting cancer for the first time than the state and national average.

Anderson County is ranked eighth-highest out of the state’s 46 counties for incidences of all types of cancers, according to information provided by the State Department of Health and Environmental Control. Cancer was the leading cause of death in Anderson County, and the second in South Carolina, as of 2017.

 

Carolina This Week with DHEC’s Bryan Rabon

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WPDE-ABC) Bryan Rabon, DHEC’s manager of aquatic science programs, sat down with “Carolina This Week” host Trey Paul to talk about beach monitoring season and the purpose of swim advisories.

No Butts on the Beach

By: Liz Hartje, Ocean & Coastal Resource Management

Did you know that cigarette litter is the most common type of marine debris found on South Carolina beaches? Cigarette butts are a toxic form of marine debris. Most cigarette filters are made of thin plastic fibers called cellulose acetate, a material that degrades very slowly. Plastics exposed to sunlight and waves break down into smaller and more numerous microplastics, which may never fully degrade in the marine environment. Birds, fish, and sea turtles may ingest cigarette butts or other plastic debris along the coast, which can lead to choking, poisoning, or blockage of the gut. Leaching of toxic materials from cigarette butts can also degrade water quality. Various metals, including lead and nickel, have been found to leach from smoked cigarettes within 24 hours, which may increase the risk of acute harm to local marine life. In a laboratory study, a concentration of one cigarette butt in one liter of water killed half of all fish exposed, within 96 hours!

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In 2015, DHEC OCRM conducted a Cigarette Litter Reduction Pilot Study on Folly Beach in Charleston County. The project was funded by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and included partners from the Surfrider Foundation and Folly Green. The goal of the project was to reduce cigarette litter on Folly Beach by educating residents and visitors about the negative effects cigarette litter can have on the marine environment. Foldable paper ashtrays and flyers printed with educational information were distributed, and new cigarette receptacles were installed at several beach walkovers on Folly Beach. Small-scale monitoring events were designed to look at the amount of cigarette litter on the beach before and after project implementation. Results of the monitoring efforts found fewer cigarette butts in the study area after project implementation, suggesting this pilot project may have influenced human behavior.

Last year, DHEC’s project was replicated in the Grand Strand by the Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium (CWSEC). CWSEC and its partners took a watershed-based approach to enhance public awareness and promote proper disposal of cigarette butt litter at beach and river accesses in Horry and Georgetown Counties. Similar to the Folly Beach study, the Grand Strand Cigarette Litter Reduction project focused on public education, installation of new cigarette receptacles, and cigarette litter monitoring. Results of the project can found on the project website.

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Share Your Best Coastal Photograph With the Whole World

Do you love the beauty of South Carolina’s coast? Do you have a talent for capturing that beauty through a camera lens? Then we want to see your best work!

Photographers of all ages and levels of expertise are invited to participate in the annual photography contest sponsored by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The winning photo will appear on DHEC’s 2018 annual tide table poster, of which over 12,000 copies are produced and distributed.

DHEC is looking for coastal South Carolina scenes including marshes, beaches or wildlife. The 2017 winner “Ghost Crab at Sunrise” is shown above.

Rules:

  • Horizontal orientation is required
  • Color photographs and digital photos are accepted with a limit of five pictures per entry
  • Digital photos should not exceed a total combined file size of 25 megabytes
  • All entries must be submitted between August 14 and September 15, 2017

The preferred method for entries is via email – dhec_ocrm@dhec.sc.gov.

Entries may also be mailed to:

Coastal Photo Contest
S.C. DHEC – OCRM
1362 McMillan Avenue, Suite 400
Charleston, SC 29405

The winner will be announced in October. For questions about the contest, contact Liz Hartje, Coastal Projects Manager, at hartjeen@dhec.sc.gov or 843-953-9237.

 

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.