Tourists are avoiding Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, due to the recent stories of unsafe levels of bacteria in the water from storm water runoff. MyrtleBeachSC.com reported on Friday that the figures being compiled by a core group of rental property owners indicate that the tourist deficit is projected to be approximately 2 million unless there is a last-minute influx of reservations. Representatives of the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce are grasping at any opportunity to attempt to counteract what they refer to as “misinformation” about the water quality.
Ann Marcum from Visit Myrtle Beach contacted the Tri-Cities News Examiner after a previous article was published about the high bacteria levels at Myrtle Beach. Visit Myrtle Beach is the official tourism site for Grand Strand. She wanted to assure the public that the water is now safe at Myrtle Beach.
“I saw your story but wanted to make sure you saw the updated report and also the video below. We want to reassure travelers that the waters are definitely safe.”
She included a link to this video in which the unnamed speaker refers to the “blog” that has been publishing the reports.
There is just one problem with that whole line of thought: there’s that pesky Department of Health and Environmental Control that has posted those 14 permanent signs all along the beach at Myrtle. The signs read, “SWIMMING IS NOT ADVISED within 200 feet in each direction of this swash/storm water outfall.” These signs have been in place at the points where the storm water runs on to the beach since 2007, but the story has been somewhat buried until Myrtle BeachSC.com began to report on the problem. Many citizens and business owners in the area are demanding the city leaders be more aggressive in their plans for handling the storm water runoff that is causing the problem.
The beaches are open, but anytime there is a rain event, there is an increased chance of unsafe bacterial levels. The levels could range from slightly elevated to very high for up to three days. If you plan to use the beach, you should check the latest monitoring on the DHEC beach monitoring website. South Carolina beaches are tested twice a month during the tourist season, but Myrtle Beach is monitored weekly. The areas north and south of Myrtle Beach, such as North Myrtle Beach, receive good ratings, and this might be a better choice for a family vacation. Small children, elderly people and those with weakened immunity systems are most susceptible to gastrointestinal problems, wound infections and ear, nose and throat problems from exposure to elevated bacteria in the water.
Perhaps a change of venue would be nice for your vacation. If your family must go to the Myrtle Beach area, it might be time to try one of the neighboring beaches that have much better water quality. Many families have already made that move away from downtown Myrtle Beach due to feeling less safe than in years past especially walking on the beach at night. It turns out that may be more than just a feeling. Have you seen the Top 100 most dangerous neighborhoods listed on NeighborhoodScout.com? Myrtle Beach ranks #17. (I haven’t been able to go back since they tore down the Pavillion, the place of so many childhood memories. Just saying.)