Ocean Water - Coastal Carolina University
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Waccamaw Watershed Academy

Ocean Water

  • Susan Libes, Ph.D.
    Program Director
    Waccamaw Watershed Academy
    Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies
    Coastal Carolina University

A primary concern for beach water quality is exposure to pathogens. The risk of illness from this exposure is esimated by measuring fecal indicator organisms such as Enterococcus. In an EPA study, increased concentration of enterococcus bacteria correlated with increased illness of swimmers. This correlation has been used by the EPA to set concentration limits of Enterococcus bacteria in marine waters.‌ 

In 1997, a SC DHEC-sponsored workgroup initiated a study to reevaluate the quality of marine bathing waters in South Carolina. This was the first bacteriological marine bathing water quality study since 1982. Ninety-five percent of the study was performed for the government entities of Horry and Georgetown counties. The cities of North Myrtle Beach and Myrtle Beach, Horry and Georgetown counties, and towns of Surfside Beach and Pawleys Island contracted with the Environmental Quality Lab to perform this work.

A photo of the OceanA photo of the OceanFrom 1997 to 2003, the EQL performed weekly monitoring during the summers for the cities of North Myrtle Beach, Horry County and towns of Surfside Beach and Briarcliffe.  From 1997 to present, the EQL has been monitoring weekly year round for the City of Myrtle Beach and starting in 2013, for the city of North Myrtle Beach.    All the Enterococcus results from all sites on the Grand Strand since monitoring began in 1997 are available at: http://bccmws.coastal.edu/enteroview. Visit Beach Monitoring for access to other information.

Dissolved Oxygen in Long Bay

In July 2004, scientists in the Watershed Academy discovered hypoxic waters in the nearshore of Long Bay. Click here to read more about present and past research and monitoring work along with links to current real-time data feeds.