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Beaches: Looking for hopeful signs as trash increases

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Trash pickups will increase at the south end of Pawleys Island after complaints that Georgetown County’s largest free beach access point looked more like a trash dump than a vacation spot Monday morning. It isn’t just a problem with the pickups; there is more trash being left by beachgoers, which Beth Goodale, the county’s parks and recreation director, hopes is a sign that tourism has increased.

“Trash volume over the last couple of years has been increasing,” she said. “This year has been unlike anything we have ever seen.”

The view on Monday morning was enough to prompt Howard and Fran Ward, who live on the south end of Pawleys Island, to send photos to county officials. “The garbage that is allowed to overflow the limited trash containers is now in the parking lot, on the beach, in the ocean and creek,” they said.

Goodale told town officials the county would pick up trash at the south end parking lot seven days a week. And she addressed another complaint leveled by the Wards that the portable toilets were overflowing and unclean.

A new toilet was brought in by the contractor, bringing the total to six, and Goodale said the contractor agreed to step up his monitoring of the facilities.

The south end is located within the town of Pawleys Island, but owned and maintained by the county. It isn’t the only place on the island where trash has increased.

See “Trash,” Page 2

From Front Page

The town added larger trash cans at the beach accesses it maintains last year. Julian Rutledge, who is the principal trash hauler for island homes, also picks up trash at the accesses and had increased collections on holiday weekends, Mayor Bill Otis said.

“Occasionally we’ll have an issue,” he said. “We’re probably going to have to take a look at exactly where [the cans] are.”

He gets complaints that there are too many and no enough. “We must be about right,” he said. “The other side of the coin is that the folks that typically use the beaches here are good about picking up things and bringing them to the cans.”

Trash volume is also up at the Litchfield Beaches, where the area property owners association uses a county accommodations tax grant to pay for pickups. “It seems to me there are more tourists on the beach this summer, which would account for more volume in the trash cans,” said John Thomas, the association president.

The contractor has also said more household trash is showing up in the cans at the beach accesses.

“We are trying to educate renters that the beach access trash cans are for beach trash only,” Thomas said.

He has heard from rental companies that numbers are up this year. Pawleys Island has seen a rise of about 10 percent in its local accommodations tax revenue, Otis said.

“We hope this goes with occupancy rates,” Goodale said of the trash volume. She plans to apply for accommodations tax funds to expand beach access services next year.

The county is also looking at alternatives to the 55-gallon cans that it uses for trash bins. Plastic cans are easier to handle and won’t rust, but they blow around and need racks. Compacting cans are more expensive to buy and maintain, but don’t need to be emptied as often.

“There’s really no way to win,” Goodale said.

The Litchfield Beaches Property Owners Association is sponsoring a beach sweep Saturday to pick up trash left from the Fourth of July, particularly fireworks.

It starts at 9 a.m. at Walkway 51 in North Litchfield and at 9:15 a.m. from Walkway 60 in Litchfield Beach.

Thomas said he thought there was more fireworks debris on the beach and in the trash cans this summer. The contractor said it was about the usual volume.

However, Thomas noted that the “usual” still filled a large part of a roll-on trash bin.

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