Neck Notebook | Water quality in question after Murrells Inlet summer fireworks

cbyun@thesunnews.comJuly 10, 2013 

Murrells Inlet 2020’s board gathered Tuesday at their office to discuss the ecological impact of summertime fireworks along the marsh.

The group has received several complaints from residents about the colorful light displays, including debris along the creek and noise pollution at night, said Sue Sledz, executive director of 2020.

Dr. Susan Libes, professor of marine science and chemistry at Coastal Carolina University and founding director of the Waccamaw Watershed Academy, educated the board on the effects fireworks have on water quality.

But there isn’t enough information on how firework residue affects salt-marsh water quality, Libes said.

“Unfortunately, I think you’re going to have to make a decision (concerning future firework standards) with limited information,” Libes said.

A possible effect of the residue includes metals in the water, which could settle into the sediment and be eaten by fish or oysters, Libes said. The danger comes from the type of metals and how they transform after combustion, as well as how much residue is left in the water.

“Not all metals are bad, it’s the amount of metals that becomes a problem,” Libes said. “The dosage makes the poison.”

Murrells Inlet’s salt marsh has been under a water quality study for about six years, but Murrells Inlet 2020 is not testing for fireworks pollutants in that study, Sledz said. However, several area pollutants already run in the creek, including road and parking lot runoff.

“(The marsh) is not pristine, in the case of metals,” Libes said, “so you already have a background of these pollutants.”

Since the inlet already has baseline information on water quality before fireworks are set off, the next step is to test for increases of certain metals, including Barium and chemicals known as perchlorates.

Many locals have complained about nightly fireworks set off near the creek and marshwalk. Several board members complained about the noise pollution caused by nightly light shows and expressed worry for the area wildlife.

For now, the board must use limited information to decide on a plan. Sandra Bundy, board member and life-long Murrells Inlet resident, expressed frustration at a the possible harm to the ecosystem.

“It just frustrating, since we’re working so hard to protect (the environment) and then having fireworks go off each night,” Bundy said.

“I like to look at fireworks as much as the next person, but I love, love, love looking out at the inlet.”

South Strand Optimist Club shines

A second organizational meeting of the South Strand Optimist Club will be held July 25 at 12:30 p.m.

The club, which is a recent expansion of the Grand Strand branch, will serve Surfside Beach, Burgess, St. James, Garden City, Murrells Inlet and Georgetown.

Several recognition programs are in place to benefit the community. These programs will involve elementary, middle and high school-aged youth.

Additionally, the club will recognize individuals who serve and protect youth for their efforts through the Neck’s local rescue, fire, EMS and law enforcement departments.

The meeting will be held at Applewood House of Pancakes, 14361 Ocean Highway, Litchfield Beach. For more information, or to reserve a place at the meeting, contact Marty Waltemyer at 235-0671 or email mwaltemyer@aol.com.

Plantersville community forum scheduled

Residents are invited to a community forum to discuss the designation of Plantersville Road as a scenic byway.

A scenic byway is a designation highway, street, road or route which significantly features certain qualities that should be protected or enhanced. Plantersville Road stretches for 12 miles in Georgetown County.

The meeting will be held July 18 at 5:30 p.m. in Plantersville Elementary, 1668 Exodus Drive, Georgetown. For more information, contact Rene King at 344-7891.

Contact CLAIRE BYUN at 626-0377 or follow her on Twitter @NeckNews.

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