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South Carolina’s Water Planning

Will we have enough water – where and when we need it?

Figure 1. The Water Planning Framework guides SC's stakeholder-driven water planning process. Image credit: SCDNR.

Figure 1. The Water Planning Framework guides SC’s stakeholder-driven water planning process.
Image credit: SCDNR.

Planning for future water needs is an ongoing process to determine how much water we have (and expect to have in the future), how much water we will need in the future, and how we will meet our future water needs. State legislation assigns the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) responsibility for completing this work; SCDNR created the first State Water Plan in 1998 and updated the Plan in 2004.

In 2014, SCDNR, in collaboration with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and Clemson University, began creating a stakeholder-driven process to update SC’s Water Plan. In 2018, the Planning Process Advisory Committee (PPAC) was formed and now has approximately 20 members who represent various water interests from across the state. The PPAC developed the State Water Planning Framework that outlines how the state water planning process will be completed, and the group continues to provide input as the process moves forward.

Figure 2. A River Basin Council will be formed in each of SC’s eight major river basins. Image credit: SCDNR.

Figure 2. A River Basin Council will be formed in each of SC’s eight major river basins.
Image credit: SCDNR.

A major component of the Planning Framework is the formation of a River Basin Council (RBC) in each of the state’s eight major river basins for the purpose of creating a River Basin Plan. These Councils will have up to 25 voting members who represent various water interests within the basin. SCDNR received funding to begin this work and formed the Edisto River Basin Council in 2020, with plans to form the Pee Dee River Basin Council in 2021. RBC meetings are open to the public, and additional information is available online.

Once formed, each RBC will meet on a regular basis to create a River Basin Plan that evaluates water availability, use, and future demand within the basin, as well as identifying potential shortages and solutions using hydrologic models. The eight River Basin Plans, once completed, will form the foundation of the new State Water Plan. This will start an ongoing process of plan implementation, followed by an update of the River Basin Plans and the State Water Plan approximately every five years.

How can stakeholders engage in the water planning process?

  • Figure 3. SCDNR, in collaboration with SCDHEC and Clemson University, is leading a stakeholder-driven process to update SC’s Water Plan. Image credit: SCDNR, modified by Heather Nix, Clemson Extension.

    Figure 3. SCDNR, in collaboration with SCDHEC and Clemson University, is leading a stakeholder-driven process to update SC’s Water Plan. Image credit: SCDNR, modified by Heather Nix, Clemson Extension.

    There are several options for engaging in the state water planning process:

  • Click here to sign up for email updates on SC’s state water
  • Learn more about these efforts by reviewing the reports and other information on SCDNR’s Water Planning website.
  • Attend meetings to participate in the public conversation. See Water Planning News for dates and times.
  • Apply to become a member of a River Basin Council as opportunities become available.
  • Related Fact Sheets and Information
  • HGIC:  Water Use in South Carolina
  • HGIC: South Carolina’s Water Resources
  • SCDNR – Water Planning
  • SCDHEC – State Water Plan
  • SC Water Resources Center at Clemson University – Stakeholder Website for Water Resources

If this document didn’t answer your questions, please contact HGIC at hgic@clemson.edu or 1-888-656-9988.

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