CCU and SC Floodwater Commission partner to install ‘Smart Reef’ technology in Horry County

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — CCU and the S.C. Floodwater Commission were off the South Carolina coast near the Little River Inlet Friday installing a “Smart Reef” system that will be able to gather marine and weather information.

“Today’s project was tying us into a broader network,” S.C. Floodwater Commission Chairman Tom Mullikin said. “We intend to create the underwater internet where we can get real-time data and images both to show us, to address both of those issues, marine development of life and research. To help our planners understand more about the coastal surge and where we should place these artificial reefs in order to maximize their effectiveness with wave attenuation.”

This “Smart Reef” undersea information-collection system was developed by Coastal Carolina University’s Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies.

“We’re looking at strategies that will create a continuum of resiliency efforts starting in the ocean and then working our way to the mountains,” Mullikin said.

According to a release by CCU, concrete blocks housing environmental sensors were installed on the Ron McManus Memorial Reef system near the Little River Inlet.

The release states that this “Smart Reef” system will be the first of three phases that will enable researchers at CCU to collect real-time data.

Mullikin says this data will help researchers understand flooding and other various threats to South Carolina coasts.

“We’re taking the floodwater commission’s recommendation that the Governor’s embraced and we’re taking the natural science and we’re actually doing something,” Mullikin said.

In the news release, Paul T. Gayes, professor and director of CCU’s Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies said, “ultimately, the data will continue to aid the development and increase the resolution of the CCU interactively coupled Ocean-Wave-Atmosphere-Flood modeling system, leading to improved predictive capability related to environmental quality, habitat change, and storm effects within the artificial reef system and broader coastal zone of northern South Carolina.”

Mullikin said local and state leaders including Gov. McMaster are actively helping with this project.

“The credit goes to Governor McMaster,” Mullikins said. “He has followed this every step of the way. He called us last night to wish us good luck. He’s intimately, actively involved in looking at these strategies and the reason why this works is because we have a leader at the top committed to making meaningful progress.”

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