SC Beach Access and Water Quality
The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) routinely collects water samples at more than 120 locations along South Carolina’s beaches.
Water monitoring samples are taken to test for enterococcus bacteria – to indicate presence of bacteria in the water. Elevated levels of these bacteria in the water can indicate possible contamination by fecal waste. Enterococcus is a type of bacteria that lives in the intestinal tracts of warm-blooded animals, including humans, pets and wildlife. Enterococci are typically not considered harmful to humans, but their presence in the environment may indicate that other disease-causing organisms may be present.
If high numbers of bacteria are found, DHEC will issue an advisory for that portion of the beach. An advisory means that DHEC advises you to not swim in those areas.
Advisories do not mean that the beach is closed. Wading, fishing, and shell collecting do not pose a risk. Advisories may be issued due to high bacteria counts or rainfall. Advisories are lifted when sample results fall below the limit of 104CFU/100mL.
Visit the SC Beach Access Guide for current information on swim advisory spots along the beach.
NOTE: Beach water quality monitoring for swimming advisories is ONLY performed May 1st through October 1st.