Withers Basin
Pictured is a map of Myrtle Beach’s Withers Basin, which engineering firm WK Dickson has been studying with the goal of finding ways to improve water quality and what to do with areas that flood.

Improving water quality and reducing flooding will take time and money, an engineer said.

But, Tom Murray of the WK Dickson engineering firm added, some fixes are as simple as letting some grass grow and removing pet waste.

Murray’s firm has been studying Myrtle Beach’s Withers Basin for a year with the goal of finding ways to improve water quality and what to do with areas that flood.

The basin is about 3.5 square miles and it stretches from 19th Avenue North to 17th Avenue South reaching from Seaboard Street to the ocean.

Murray said it includes 21 miles of open streams and channels, 3,500 drainage structures such as end culverts and 40 miles of drainage pipes. All of the water from the basin eventually ends up in Withers Swash, he said.

Less than a dozen people attended the public meeting at the city’s Train Depot as Murray discussed the study’s findings.

He said a major concern is reducing pollution, which he said is largely coming from the residential areas in the basin. Ways to combat pollution include picking up pet waste since it eventually goes into ponds and stormwater channels.

And, he said, geese don’t come to ponds and lakes that are surrounded by naturally growing vegetation.

“They won’t go there,” he said with a nod to the double meaning.

In addition to the natural approach, Murray said the study recommends 16 projects to decrease pollution including creating wetlands that would naturally filter stormwater as it washes off roofs and winds though ditches. There are also 11 major infrastructure projects to increase drainage pipe sizes and replace old systems that would require hiring a contractor. He said the city’s staff could handle seven minor infrastructure projects.

He said the total cost could reach more than $30 million.

The next step, Murray said, was to present the findings to the city council and let them prioritize a project list.

He added the engineering firm would also be studying stormwater that leads directly the ocean as well as areas that drain into the Intracoastal Waterway.

Janet Morgan is the editor of the Myrtle Beach Herald. Contact her at 843-488-7258 or at janet.morgan@myhorrynews.com.

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