Grand Strand ocean water among nation's dirtiest, report says

Horry County's beaches are among the nation's dirtiest, according to a report issued today by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

South Carolina State Park and Campground, Myrtle Beach, Springmaid Beach and Surfside Beach each received a one-star rating out of a possible five because, the report says, they only meet one of the quality criteria -- posting closings and advisories online and at the beach.

North Myrtle Beach received three stars for its overall water quality last year and in the past three years, plus its timely reporting of beach advisories and closings.

The NRDC is a nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists, and was founded in 1970. This is its 20th annual vacation-beach water-quality report.

Representatives said “Testing the Waters” will give data on 3,000 of America's beaches -- which have pollution problems and which tested clean. The report also includes the five-star rating chart for 200 U.S. beaches.

The report rates the beaches based on overall water quality for 2009, the water quality for the past three years, how often water quality is tested, how promptly the advisories are issued when there is a problem, and whether an area posts closings and advisories online and at the beach.

Pollution in the region's oceans mainly comes from stormwater runoff, which carries materials into the water, David Beckman, NRDC water project director, said serious contamination can be found in the water, including human and animal waste, which can cause a variety of health issues.

One of the best ways to prevent the problem is more natural filtering, from pervious surfaces, rain gardens, wetlands and healthy river, creek, retention pond and bankside ecologies, he said in a press conference today.