South Carolina's beaches are the ninth-cleanest among the country's coastal states based on water quality tests, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
At the 23 state beaches checked regularly for water quality, 5 percent of samples exceeded the state's daily maximum bacteria and pollution standards last year, up from 4 percent in 2009, according to the study published Wednesday.
The report compares the number of poor water-quality advisories or beach closures issued in 30 coastal states across the country, based largely on testing for fecal bacteria, or animal and human waste.
The NRDC said Horry County had the biggest problems, with contamination levels at three of its beaches - Myrtle Beach State Park and Campground, Surfside Beach and Myrtle Beach - exceeding state standards.
Horry County's 7 percent overall rate was the highest in the state, followed by Colleton, Beaufort and Charleston counties. There were no problems reported in Georgetown County, which is tested twice a month.