Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen said Wednesday the state should help the Grand Strand remove stormwater pipes that empty contaminated runoff onto beaches that attract millions of visitors and anchor the state’s tourism economy.
In Myrtle Beach as part of a campaign stop, Sheheen said he favors spending $10 million to $20 million in state money to get rid of the pipes so that vacationers aren’t exposed to contaminated runoff.
The beachside pipes release runoff water, forming pools and rivulets that often attract children as the water drains into the ocean. The state has installed small signs warning of the bacteria dangers. The Natural Resources Defense Council, a national environmental group, recently ranked South Carolina beaches seventh worst in the country for water quality, primarily because of pollution in the Myrtle Beach area.
Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, criticized Republican Gov. Nikki Haley for not helping Grand Strand cities address the issue. Local communities in Horry County are spending money to pipe the stormwater offshore to replace pipes on beaches.
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"Local municipalities have invested tens of millions of dollars on some of the outflows to clean them up, but the state under Gov. Haley has not done anything to help," Sheheen said in an interview after his news conference. "We will help to lead the charge to work cooperatively with the local community to take those same steps with the remaining outfalls.’"
A Haley campaign spokeswoman had no immediate comment, but said a response would be forthcoming.