Columbia – Governor Sanford held a signing ceremony today to celebrate the passage of a law that is an important step toward ensuring reliable, predictable clean water supplies for the state’s communities and protecting the health of the state’s rivers and lakes. American Rivers, the Coastal Conservation League, and other partners worked for years to negotiate the provisions in the act.
“The majority of South Carolinians get their drinking water from rivers and lakes, so protecting the health of these waterways is essential,” said Gerrit Jobsis, Southeast regional director for American Rivers. “This bill is a critical milestone toward smarter, more cost-effective management of our limited water resources. It delivers the reliability and predictability that we all need.”
“South Carolina now recognizes that water is a public resource that has to be protected from overuse in order to protect fishing, recreation, and navigation. This bill is an important first step in protecting South Carolina against future droughts and other states that are after our water,” said Dana Beach, Executive Director of the Coastal Conservation League.
The Surface Water Withdrawal Permitting, Use, and Reporting Act will give water managers a full picture of who is taking how much water and when, and where that water is being used. This full picture of water use is critical to effective water management and is essential information as South Carolina negotiates with other states over shared water resources like the Savannah, Catawba-Wateree, and Pee Dee rivers.
The act also:
- Establishes a permitting system for water withdrawals over three million gallons per month and lays out requirements to protect fish and wildlife and downstream users.
- Sets seasonally variable minimum instream flows for new users that will protect migrating fish populations and floodplain wetlands, which are important for flood protection and clean water supplies.
- Requires new users to have contingency plans so that they can cease their consumptive use of water when stream flows get too low, protecting wildlife, navigation, recreation, and downstream users.
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.