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Water: Beaches

South Carolina 2011 Swimming Season Update

August 2012


Drawing of the state of South Carolina with counties identified in green

Figure 1. South Carolina coastal counties.

The Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health (BEACH) Act of 2000 authorizes EPA to provide grants to coastal and Great Lakes states, territories, and eligible tribes to monitor their coastal beaches for bacteria that indicate the possible presence of disease-causing pathogens and to notify the public when there is a potential risk to public health. The BEACH Act requires that recipients of those grants report their coastal beach monitoring and notification data to EPA. This fact sheet highlights the data submitted to EPA by the State of South Carolina for the 2011 swimming season.

Table 1. Breakdown of monitored and unmonitored beaches by county for 2011.
County Total Beaches Monitored Not Monitored
Beaufort 4 4 0
Charleston 5 5 0
Colleton 1 1 0
Georgetown 5 5 0
Horry 8 8 0
Totals 23 23 0

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2011 Summary Results

South Carolina monitored 23 coastal beaches in 5 counties during the 2011 swimming season (Figure 1 and Table 1). When monitoring results at swimming beaches show that levels of specific indicator bacteria in the water exceed applicable water quality standards, South Carolina officials issue a beach advisory, warning people of possible risks of swimming.

How many notification actions were reported and how long were they?

Bar Graph of Beach notification actions by duration

Percent of beaches with one or more notification actions

In 2011, of the 23 coastal beaches that South Carolina monitored, six (26 percent) had at least one notification action. This is approximately the same as in previous years with the exception of 2010 when only one beach had an action (Figure 2).

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How many notification actions were issued and how long did they last?

Pie Chart of Beach days with notification actions

Duration of beach notification actions in 2011

South Carolina issued 7 notification actions during the 2011 swimming season. Typically South Carolina lifts an action when follow-up monitoring indicates that water quality complies with applicable standards. For all actions (100 percent) water quality returned to normal and beaches were deemed safe for swimming within one or two days (Figure 3).

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What percentage of days were beaches under a notification action?

EPA calculates the total available beach days and the number of beach days with notification actions to better track trends over time. Total available beach days are determined by multiplying the length of the beach season by the number of beaches in the state. For 2011 EPA calculated that 3,519 beach days were associated with the swimming seasons of the 23 monitored South Carolina beaches. South Carolina reported notification actions on 10 days, meaning that beaches were open and safe for swimming over 99 percent of the time. This continues the annual trend of consistently high percentages of open beach days at state beaches (Figure 4).

Bar Graph of Percent of Beaches

Figure 4: Percent of beach days open and safe for swimming

For More Information

General information about beaches | Specific Beach Information

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