By Associated Press - Thursday, June 26, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A new report says South Carolina’s water quality at its beaches is seventh worse in the country.

The report said beaches along the Grand Strand suffer from problems more than other parts of the state. The poor ratings in the Myrtle Beach area pulled down South Carolina’s overall ratings.

The Natural Resources Defense Council says only Louisiana and Mississippi had bigger problems than South Carolina among Southern beaches.

The report says surf pollution continues to be a problem along the Grand Strand. Drainage pipes in the area have carried contaminated runoff into the ocean where people swim.

The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce criticized the council report, saying it scared people on vacation when the ocean is clean most of the time.

President and CEO Brad Dean said stormwater runoff can cause spikes in bacteria counts, but he said the concern is overblown.

Fifteen percent of the water quality samples taken in South Carolina last summer exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended standard for safe swimming. Nationally, 10 percent of the samples taken exceeded the standard, the council said.

On the Grand Strand, about 20 percent of the water samples taken in 2013 exceeded the EPA’s standard, according to the report.

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