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Environment: Tougher stormwater rules arrive along with grant

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Stormwater entering estuaries of Waccamaw Neck will be cleaner if Georgetown County adopts new regulations dictated by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The water quality of Murrells Inlet is getting a bonus.

Tracy Jones, Georgetown County’s stormwater manager, held two meetings in the past week to review proposed changes in stormwater management standards. “DHEC is really pushing for pollution prevention,” Jones told a small group of developers at the Murrells Inlet Community Center Monday.

Under the proposed requirements developers will have to monitor stormwater runoff for fecal pollution during construction of a development of 25 or more acres or if discharging into impaired waters and exceeding the pollution threshold of established water quality standards. County stormwater plans must be updated every five years.

Jones showed a map of Murrells Inlet depicting the expansion of the “MS4” area. The “municipal separate storm sewer system, includes an area where ditches, curbs, gutters, storm sewers and other means of conveying runoff do not connect with a wastewater collection system or treatment plant. Construction that increases stormwater runoff into the MS4 area of the inlet must meet more stringent regulations under the proposal. Jones said the new rules bring county design standards in line with state regulations.

First reading of the proposed county ordinance will go before Georgetown County Council Oct. 21. A public hearing will be held prior to second reading in November.

Pollution flowing into the inlet has been the subject of an extensive study conducted by Coastal Carolina University and a number of government partners using samples gathered weekly by volunteers. The findings were used to write a watershed plan for the inlet.

DHEC has awarded Murrells Inlet 2020 and the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments a $270,000 grant to implement three pilot projects recommended to filter stormwater in the watershed plan: floating treatment wetlands, bacteria media filter strips in roadside ditches and a constructed stormwater wetland.

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