Will we have enough water for our future?

It’s arguably our state’s most essential natural resource, and planning for our water needs is one of the most important things we can do together. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources is lead agency for planning and setting water policy statewide.

In 2014, DNR began updating the State Water Plan (last updated in 2004). A computer-based model will be used to assess surface water quantities for all lakes, streams and creeks in South Carolina.

Groundwater quantities in the coastal plain also will be assessed with a computer-based model by the U.S. Geological Survey.

In March 2018, DNR convened the Planning Process Advisory Committee to help revamp and expand the planning process for the State Water Plan. The committee includes some 20 members representing agriculture, commerce, environmental groups, recreation, power generators, reservoir owners and public water suppliers.

Additionally, there is representation from the staffs of DNR, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and Clemson University’s S.C. Water Resources Center. The group meets monthly and is working to define elements of the planning process.

The current vision for a State Water Plan is to develop local water resource management plans for each of the state’s eight major river basins. Each basin would have a River Basin Council assigned to develop a local plan with each eventually being rolled up into the State Water Plan. Advisory committee members are expected to assist the local councils in developing plans consistent with the overall process. The councils, assisted by state and federal agencies and consultants, would be made up of members from major interest groups and include opportunities for citizens at-large.

While the number of available seats on each council would be defined for team efficiency, the meetings are expected to be open to the public and their decision-making would be transparent.

DNR has a budget request to fund the ongoing administration of the State Water Plan and initial funding to start the river basin planning process. This will get the process started, but additional funding will be essential to complete the larger plan.

Clemson’s S.C. Water Resources Center is providing local river basin council meeting agendas and minutes at: http://bit.ly/SCwaterPlan.

Clay Duffie

General Manager

Mount Pleasant Waterworks

Member, State Water Plan

Advisory Committee

Rifle Range Road

Mount Pleasant