Category Archives: Ocean and Coastal Resource Management

Celebrate Earth Day with DHEC

Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22. This year’s Earth Day theme is “invest in our planet”. We are on this planet together and together we can invest our time, energy, and effort, to protect and preserve this planet we call Earth for ourselves and future generations.

As citizens of the Earth and South Carolina, we can actively invest in our planet by:

Participating in Citizen Science projects/programs. These projects/programs are something you can do year-round. Citizen science is when people collect data through observation of the physical world and report it to the scientific community. They range from global efforts such as the Great Back Yard Bird Count to local programs such as SC Adopt a Beach and SC Adopt a Stream programs.

Learn more about South Carolina’s environment by participating in local state park programs and events. State Park programs and events cater to all ages and interest from the mountains to the sea, including interpretive nature walks, interactive exhibits, and other outdoor adventures. 

Some things you can do to invest time, energy, and effort, around your community and in your own yard include:

To learn more about what you can do to celebrate Earth Day, visit DHEC’s Make Every Day Earth Day webpage.

February 2 is World Wetlands Day

February 2 is World Wetlands Day, and it’s a great day to learn about South Carolina’s beautiful wetlands and their importance. The state’s marshes and swamps are not only a natural heritage attraction for visitors, but they also play a critical role in ensuring a healthy watershed and environment.

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DHEC Celebrates One Health Day Showing the Health of Humans, Animals, and the Environment Connect

Over time, it has become more and more clear that the health of people is connected to the health of animals and the environment. The acknowledgment of that relationship is known as One Health. 

Each November 3, human, animal and environmental health experts, like those at DHEC and elsewhere, join communities around the world to bring awareness to this important concept. The idea is to promote the best health for all people, animals, and the environment. 

It is critical to address shared health threats at the place where humans, animals, and the environment intersect. One Health involves health experts of all types and on all levels — local, regional, national, and global levels — working on the goal of achieving optimal health outcomes through the recognition of the interconnection between people, animals, plants, and their shared environment. 

There are lots of examples of how the health of people is related to the health of animals and the environment. Here are just a couple:  
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  • Zoonotic diseases: Zoonotic diseases are conditions that can be spread between people and animals. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC), more than half of all infections people can get are zoonotic diseases. These conditions include the likes of rabies, Salmonella, and West Nile virus. 
  • Food Safety: Food safety is important to prevent people (and animals) from becoming sick after eating food or drinks that contain harmful germs or environmental toxins. CDC estimates that each year 1 in 6 Americans get sick from contaminated food or drinks. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that foodborne illnesses cost the United States more than $15.6 billion each year. 

These examples show that wide-ranging partnerships that include trained staff with backgrounds in human public health, agriculture, veterinary medicine, food safety, disease ecology, and more are needed to respond appropriately to One Health challenges. This includes the historic COVID-19 pandemic, which has placed a significant spotlight (and challenge) on One Health because it has demanded rapid, innovative, collaborative approaches to respond to and limit as much as possible its devastating impact. 

The CDC’s One Health Office focuses on this relationship between people, animals, and the environment. Staff at DHEC are involved in One Health activities every day. The One Health approach encourages experts such as disease detectives, laboratorians, physicians, and veterinarians to work together to improve the health of all — from people to pets to livestock to wildlife. 

Visit the CDC’s website to learn more about One Health and One Health Day. Also learn more about One Health by watching this video

DHEC and DNR Work Together to Prevent Possibly Contaminated Shellfish From Reaching Public

Photo courtesy of SCDNR

After several weeks of a joint investigation by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Beaufort Unit and the DHEC Shellfish Division, two individuals who were illegally harvesting and selling oysters in the Bluffton/Hilton Head area were apprehended. 

On March 17, 10 bushels of adulterated oysters were seized from the scene, and 10 summons and 2 warnings were issued to the two individuals. This illegal trade puts the citizens at risk due to the health standards not being involved in the process.  

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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)