Surface Water Withdrawal

Water is a limited, precious resource used for drinking, recreation, wildlife habitats, and economic purposes. In South Carolina, clean and abundant water has long been taken for granted. Recurrent droughts, economic and population growth projections, and increasingly polluted lakes and rivers indicate the need to refine our management strategies and regulations.

Our current surface water withdrawal legislation does not take the long-term health of our water bodies into account. Users are allowed to withdraw significant amounts of water from our surface resources, endangering ecosystems and public health downstream. We are effectively giving away one of our most valuable resources without enough protections in place. The Coastal Conservation League is working with all stakeholders to improve upon our current practices and ensure that we are using our water in a responsible and sustainable way.

Surface Water Background

We have eight major surface water basins in South Carolina. Interested in learning more about any one specifically? Check out this helpful overview.

Regional and State Water Planning

The SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) are completing a basin modeling and planning process to better understand the current state of our water alongside future demands. The long-term goal of this work is to inform our State Water Plan.

It will involve the 5 following steps:

  1. Develop surface water availability assessments
  2. Develop groundwater availability assessments
  3. Develop water demand forecasts
  4. Create regional water plans
  5. Create a state water plan

We are taking an active role as a stakeholder in the modeling and planning processes in order to contribute to an effective and sustainable plan. We will ensure that the regional and state plans balance science with the needs of current and future users so we can make sound legislative decisions.

The League is creating smart, equitable solutions that complement our growing economy and population, but also protect ecological value of our waterways in the long term. We will achieve this goal by working with agencies to provide transparency on how our water is used, strengthening our surface water regulations, and improving the water efficiency practices of all users. A clear, strong regulatory structure is a key component of comprehensive water conservation, as is abundant information on the current state of our surface water.

To stay updated on the latest for the state’s surface water modeling and planning process, visit DNR’s website for more information.

Emily Cedzo · [email protected] · 843.723.8035

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