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City of Myrtle Beach and DHEC work to change swimming advisory wording

Swimming Advisory (Madeline Montgomery/WPDE)

More swimming advisories this summer has Myrtle Beach city leaders worried tourists will be scared away.

"Without a doubt, that's going to scare tourists away," says Jake Cox, who lives in Myrtle Beach.

"We have had phone calls from families that say, 'We're coming down at the end of July, is the water safe,' and we're thinking, 'This is a short term advisory,'" said Mark Kruea, spokesman for the City of Myrtle Beach.

That is why Myrtle Beach city leaders met with people from the Department of Health and Environmental control (DHEC) Tuesday.

"We talked with DHEC to figure out a way to get the information out in a more accurate manner," said Kruea.

City and DHEC spokesmen say when swimming advisories go out, they can be miscommunicated.

"The local news media report it, well, but, by the time it makes it to the third and fourth generation news outlet, it's unrecognizable," said Kruea.

They decided to make advisories more clear by labeling them short term and giving explanations for how small of an area is affected.

"If there is an elevated bacteria level, which is usually from wildlife, or from pet waste, then we'll report that," said Kruea.

The reason there have been more advisories: change of protocol.

"In previous years, if you had a high reading at one place, you'd do a retest to make sure there wasn't a problem with that. This year, they're not doing that retest," said Kruea.

Some swimmers are not worried about the tests anyway.

"I really don't pay them any attention. I just hop on in," said Jordan Wiskus.

"As a surfer, nothing is going to get me out of the water," said Cox.

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