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May 11, 2010

Ocean water quality monitoring begins May 15

COLUMBIA, S.C. - May 15, declared Healthy Beaches Awareness Day in South Carolina by Gov. Mark Sanford, will mark the start of beach monitoring at the state’s 23 beaches, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control announced today.

“DHEC monitors the quality of water at the state’s beaches every year,” said Shannon Berry, beach monitoring coordinator in DHEC’s Bureau of Water. “When bacteria levels in the water are too high, beach advisories are issued to the public. Signs, printed in English and Spanish, are placed on the beach until water quality returns to acceptable levels.”

Berry said the program is funded by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“The federal BEACH Act authorizes the EPA to award grants to states, tribes and territories to implement beach water quality monitoring programs at coastal and Great Lakes recreational beaches,” she said. “These grants also support programs to inform the public about the risk of exposure to disease-causing microorganisms in the waters at beaches.”

Berry urges people to help enhance their experience at the beach by following these reminders:

  • Do not swim or allow children to play in swashes or near stormwater pipes as these areas are more likely to have higher bacteria levels;
  • Protect beach vegetation by using public access points and dune walkovers to get to the beach;
  • Do not swim in the ocean during, or immediately after heavy rain;
  • Avoid swimming in areas that are under advisory but walking, wading, and collecting shells are safe unless you have open sores or lesions that allow bacteria to enter and cause infection;
  • Use sunscreen;
  • If the beach allows pets, clean up after them;.
  • Remove all items brought to the beach with you.

For more information about beach sampling results and swimming advisories, visit DHEC’s Web site at:, or contact Shannon Berry at (803) 898-3541, or e-mail at:


For more information:
Adam Myrick - (803) 898-3884
E-mail -