South Carolina’s growing population and its experience of a severe drought in 2008-2009 are some of the reasons that the state needs to update its State Water Plans.
On 9 March 2018, the American Rivers reported that the state plans to change this by completing its new water plan’s second and final phase. The article says that it was fourteen years ago that the state last updated its Water Plan, which since then has seen a 15% increase in population, adding around 750,000 to its people, on top of going through a devastating drought.
The state of South Carolina hopes to address issues such as treatment facilities, watershed preservation, flood damage control and prevention, water supplies, long-term preservation of water sources and others.
The Department of Natural Resources is taking a slightly new approach to planning this time.
The article states, “For the first time, the Department of Natural Resources will develop Basin Advisory Councils for each of the state’s eight major river basins – the Broad, Catawba, Edisto, Pee Dee, Salkehatchie, Saluda, Santee, and Savannah. These advisory councils will provide local input to the water plan. What are the water management priorities for these regions, and what actions must be taken to ensure they will be met?”
As per the growing trend worldwide, South Carolina State is opting to bring water management down to a local level to ensure that issues such as sustainable practices, limits on groundwater pumping, sustainable water supplies, and healthy river flows are discussed with diligence and local knowledge and experience that will contribute much-needed input to the long-term planning process. This State Water Plan is expected to take two to three years to complete.
Upstate Forever article dated 17 April 2020 notes, “In the past, the State Water Plan did not adequately reflect the unique needs of different regions around the State — DNR aims to change that in this plan.
The new State Water Plan will be developed from eight River Basin Plans, each led by a River Basin Council with help from SCDNR, SCDHEC, and contractors.”
A River Basin Plan answers four questions, according to the article.
- What are the available water supplies and demands in the river basin?
- Who are the current registered (i.e., agriculture) and permitted (i.e., industry and utilities) water uses within the basin?
- How will demands for water resources change over the next 50 years, and will the available water supply be adequate to meet those demands?
- How will we adjust water management strategies to ensure the available supply meets or exceeds projected demands?
The state encourages the active participation of the community by attending public meetings held in each basin, providing feedback on each River Basin Plan draft, and telling their state representative the water issues that matter to them. Public involvement is critical to ensuring that future generations of South Carolinians have secure, well-managed supplies of our most vital natural resource—water.
South Carolina Ground Water Association announced on 1 March 2022 that the state’s Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) had scheduled two public meetings to provide citizens with an overview of a new water planning framework to guide surface management in the Pee Dee River basins, one of the eight River basins, in the next 50 years.
Ken Rentiers, deputy director for SCDNR’s Land, Water & Conservation Division, says, “The Planning Framework represents a foundation for the development of regional and state water plans, which are essential for our continued economic growth and protection of the resources and environment that we all share.”
Public meetings will be held regularly with stakeholders in each basin.
They launched a website to provide updates regarding the progress of these public meetings – which also serves as a venue for engaging volunteers interested in helping in a council that will develop and implement the plan for each River Basin.
The long-term planning for the conservation and use of water resources will become more critical as we face the challenges of climate change, population growth, and water usage patterns.
This long-term planning also feeds into the future demand analysis in infrastructure asset management planning. South Carolina’s progress in this planning is commendable.