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Federal, state officials alter boating restrictions in Waccamaw, Pee Dee rivers

A man check looks at his flooded boat house from a floating dock on the Waccamaw River near Bucksport. 
The Waccamaw River at Conway crested Wednesday at well over 21 feet flooding many downtown homes. Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018.
A man check looks at his flooded boat house from a floating dock on the Waccamaw River near Bucksport. The Waccamaw River at Conway crested Wednesday at well over 21 feet flooding many downtown homes. Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018. jlee@thesunnews.com

Federal and state officials modified the safety zones for both the Great Pee Dee and Waccamaw rivers Saturday.

According to a news release distributed by the captain of the Port Charleston, the safety areas include “all waters of the Waccamaw River along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway (AICW) from U.S. Highway 17 to the Socastee Swing Bridge (AICW statute mile marker 400 to 370), all waters of the Great Pee Dee River from U.S. Highway 17 northward to Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge, and all waters of the Black River from its junction with the Great Pee Dee River northward to U.S. Highway 701.”

A safety zone, or “Vessel Exclusionary Zone,” is an area in which vessels are forbidden to enter without special permission from authorities, according to the S.C. DNR. The “safety zone is intended to minimize the impact” to river systems “and to protect personnel and vessels” when high water marks are reached, the S.C. DNR says.

The U.S. Coast Guard was in conjunction with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources in changing the zones, determining that potential hazards from high waters in those rivers are present.

The news release states that the following have been removed from the safety zones: Winyah Bay, Sampit River, AICW south of U.S. Highway 17 and AICW north of Socastee Swing Bridge.

The limitation took effect Saturday and will remain in place through Oct. 19 or until waters recede and allow for safe navigation, the release says.

Recreational boaters wishing to travel through the safety zones must receive permission via the S.C. DNR (Coast Guard (843-323-7761). Commercial mariners must contact the Coast Guard (843-323-7761) for approval.

“Those in the safety zone must comply with all lawful orders or directions given to them by the Coast Guard or SCDNR designated representatives. Mariners are reminded to travel at no wake speed in areas inundated with high water so as to limit damage to property and infrastructure,” the release says.

David Wetzel: @MYBSports, 843-626-0295
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