Myrtle Beach cleans ocean outfalls to improve drainage, beach water quality

June 12, 2019

The city is fixing up something it says helps keep the ocean in swimming areas clean.

If you’re out on certain parts of Myrtle Beach over the next month, you may see a specialized jackup rig in the ocean. Workers on it will do maintenance to four-to-seven-foot-wide pipe openings under the water called ocean outfalls.

The city’s four outfalls are about 1,000 feet offshore, near 25th Avenue South, as well as 4th, 14th and 53rd avenues North.
“You can’t actually see them, but they do good things for our stormwater,” said city spokesperson Mark Kruea.

The city received about $1 million from the state to hire Salmons Dredging Corporation from North Charleston to do the work.
“It’ll clean the sediment out of the end of the pipe, probably restack any lose rock,” Kruea said. “We need to make sure that water can flow naturally, so it’s good to be able to clean and maintain those big pipes.”

The outfalls were installed 10-15 years ago to carry city stormwater out into the ocean. Then, the runoff naturally dilutes and spreads out away from the shore.
Kruea says Myrtle Beach isn’t the only city using the technology.
“We borrowed it from Virginia Beach, which has used it successfully,” he said. “Those deep water outfalls allow us to remove the pipes that you would see on the beach and they have improved our water quality.”

The outfalls aim to not only reduce flooding, but swim advisories. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control issues those when bacteria levels are over a safe standard, typically after heavy storms.

Kruea says the city is studying how to improve the quality of stormwater that drains into the ocean.

“We’re fortunate that we don’t have an pollution sources here other than basically animal waste,” he said. “We don’t have any heavy industry. We don’t have any ports, so really all we’re talking about is rain that falls.”

Kruea also says the city is looking at adding more ocean outfalls in the future, with one near 24th avenue north as the next possible location.