Will We Have Enough Water for Our Future?

Water is arguably our state’s most essential natural resource, and planning for our future water needs is one of the most important things we can do together.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has the lead role for water policy and planning in the state.  In 2014, SCDNR began the process of 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 entire Coastal Plain will also be assessed by the United States Geological Survey.

In March of 2018, SCDNR convened a diverse stakeholder group called the Planning Process Advisory Committee (PPAC) to help revamp and expand the planning process for the State Water Plan. The PPAC includes some 20 members representing agriculture, commerce, conservation, recreation, power generators, reservoir owners, public water suppliers, and agency staff from SCDNR, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the SC Water Resources Center of Clemson University. The PPAC group meets monthly and is diligently working together on defining the elements of the planning process. The PPAC also has 15 sub-committees meeting frequently by conference call to discuss assigned topics.

As currently envisioned, the updated State Water Plan will largely consist of water resource management plans for each of the state’s eight major river basins. Each individual basin plan would be created by a River Basin Council (RBC), with assistance from Advisory Committee members, state and federal agencies, and consultants, to ensure consistency throughout the state. The RBCs will be made up of local stakeholders including members from major interest groups and citizens-at-large. RBC meetings are expected to be open to the public and their decision-making should be transparent.

SCDNR has requested initial funds to support the ongoing administration of the State Water Plan and to start the river basin planning process.  Moving forward, additional funding will be essential to complete the larger plan.

If you are interested in staying up to date on the PPAC process, additional information is available online through Clemson University’s SC Water Resources Center please visit, http://bit.ly/SCwaterPlan.

Scott Willett

Executive Director, Anderson Regional Joint Water System

David H. Bereskin, P.E.

Chief Executive Officer, Greenville Water

Andrea Cooper

Executive Director, Upstate Forever