April 25, 2016

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Warmer weather has come to South Carolina, but don’t confine your preparations for your next beach vacation to gym time, finding the right bathing suit, and stocking up on suntan lotion.  Make sure the water you will be enjoying is healthy for swimming by checking out DHEC’s nifty South Carolina Beach Access Guide.

The beach monitoring season officially lasts from May 1 through October 1 each year, with DHEC monitoring bacteria at over 120 locations at least twice a month, and in some cases weekly.  Elevated bacteria levels can lead to DHEC issuing swim advisories that are classified as either “temporary” or, more rarely, “long term”.  A temporary advisory generally lasts for only a day or two, with DHEC monitoring the water on a daily basis and removing the advisory once bacteria levels fall.  Long-term advisories generally occur at places where pipes or small creeks flow into the ocean, as the elevated bacteria in these areas frequently results from stormwater runoff.  Whether the advisory is temporary or long-term, DHEC also posts signage that advises against swimming within an area around the sign, but the beach itself remains open.

Regardless, don’t let these warnings scare you to some other state for your next vacation.  The good news is that the long-term trend for South Carolina’s coast is positive. “Stormwater solutions/improvements being implemented by local governments are working,” DHEC explains, with these improvements “resulting in a downward trend in the number of long-term advisory signs.”  Learn lots more here and start planning your next getaway!