Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, has gotten a bad rap in the last few months when a viral blog post indicated that swimming wasn’t advised due to bacteria in the water, according to the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce in a new ad attempting to set facts straight. That blog post started an influx of calls from prospective vacationers contacting everyone from rental agents to city officials. The message from Myrtle Beach today is… the water is fine, so come on in!
Myrtle Beach Online reports on April 23 how one blog post going viral claiming “long-term swim advisories” were in place has taken a bite out of tourism. “Tourism officials are striking back against the social media stir that incorrectly asserted Grand Strand beaches were closed to swimming and prompted vacation cancellations by addressing the issue through an advertising campaign,” reports Myrtle Beach Online. A video ad for the campaign can be seen on the Myrtle Beach Online website highlighted above in this article. Myrtle Beach officials didn’t name the blog post in their campaign.
While the world of social media brings us all closer together information wise, it can destroy reputations, not only of people, but this is true for places as well. Anyone who has grown up on the ocean knows that at certain times of the year water run-off from storms can raise the bacteria count in the water off any coastline, especially highly populated coastal areas. This is a temporary thing, as the waters clear and then all is fine. If anything people should feel reassured that Myrtle Beach officials test the waters as often as they do and that they report an incident when it does happen.
Myrtle Beach officials appear to offer more information about the water at their beaches than some other popular ocean resort areas. You would be surprised how transparent Myrtle Beach officials are when it comes to water quality reporting in comparison to some other vacation destinations on the water. Posting signs in areas where water is found to have high levels of bacteria doesn’t always happen in other states.
If you take a look at how some other states monitor their beaches, you might applaud Myrtle Beach for being on top of their water quality. According to Surfrider.org, Hawaii’s Department of Health posts warning signs of a high bacteria level at a beach only if it involves a “known human source of the contamination, such as a sewage spill or culpable cess pool. Otherwise they do nothing.” If Myrtle Beach was this selective about where the bacteria comes from, you might never see a swim advisory go up.
Orange County Beach in California, the playground of the stars, has just taken down the warning signs at one location after high bacteria in ocean water was reported at one location a few days ago. It has now cleared, which is posted on the OC Health Care Agency Twitter page. The Twitter pages reports, “OC Health removes warning signs@ Seal Beach near the San Gabriel River jetty-bacterial levels meet health standards.” There you go, these postings come and go on most beaches, Myrtle Beach is no different.
The Ocean Beach homepage for ocean water monitoring has this everyday warning:
“The Environmental Health staff advises swimmers that levels of bacteria can rise significantly in ocean and bay waters adjacent to storm drains, creeks and rivers. Swimmers should avoid coastal waters impacted by discharging storm drains creeks and rivers, and beach users should avoid contact with any runoff on the beach during dry or wet weather conditions.”
This is the same type of warning found at many beaches on both coasts in the U.S. as it stands to reason the water is going to go somewhere. So why would anyone single out Myrtle Beach when one of those signs can be found anywhere there’s a town or city on the ocean front?
Florida has been testing water at its beaches since 2000 and officials post signs of public advisories when bacteria levels get too high, according to Health News Florida. Over the past 15 years some communities have shown they were more prone to high bacteria water events than others. Some communities were issued “hundreds of advisories,” according to Health News Florida. Other communities have posted just a few dozen in the last 15 years. Again, Myrtle Beach is no different when it comes to monitoring their water and watching out for the public if bacteria count is higher than usual.
Florida Healthy Beach Program offers an interactive map for beach water quality and at even given time somewhere in the Sunshine State there are advisories. Myrtle Beach is not an anomaly, many beaches see bacteria levels rise periodically and then clear. This happens all year long across the country’s mass of coastlines. Most folks shouldn’t be worrying about advisories that were posted a few months back, they should be concerned that the vacation spot they pick monitors the water quality closely. According to what the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce has reported about water testing, Myrtle Beach sounds like one of those places that keep a watchful eye on their water quality.
The point being, beaches everywhere, even the exotic vacation destinations of Hawaii have high bacteria events. The emphasis is on “events” here… they come and go. Myrtle Beach is not standing out by any means. In fact one might find reassurance in their swimming advisory procedures, which would go up if high levels of bacteria are detected in the water. To warn the public is a good thing because this means they are watching out for your family’s safety!