Grand Strand beaches make dirtiest water list again

Springmaid Beach/Lindsey Theis

The five beaches with the dirtiest water in the state are all in Horry County, at least according to a study from the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The study, released Wednesday, looks at bacteria levels in beach water. This study comes out every year and is compiled from government samples examining the bacteria levels in the water.

The study rates South Carolina beaches 17 out of 30 when it comes to beaches with bacteria, with 8 percent of all water samples last year exceeding standards, the report said. Those numbers are the same as the 2010 report, but down from a spike in 2009 when 20 percent of samples exceeded the healthy limits. Also last year, SC ranked 8th out of 30.

Anytime a sample had more than the daily rate of bacteria, it was marked. The state's daily maximum bacterial standard is 104 colonies/100 ml. The beaches with the highest percent exceedance rates of the state standard in 2011 were Springmaid Beach (18%), Briarcliffe Acres Beach (13%), Myrtle Beach (13%), Myrtle Beach State Park and Campgrounds (10%), and Garden City Beach (9%), all in Horry County.

The city of Myrtle Beach says they've spent more than 30 million on storm water management over the past decade to lower those bacteria levels.

"They criticized us at one point and then decided that they liked us and put us on their buddy list. It's an annual report that's intended to be critical, and you just take it with a grain of salt," spokesman Mark Kruea said.