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South Carolina Drought News Release

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Land, Water and Conservation Division
South Carolina Drought Response Program
Department of Natural Resources News (803) 734-4133

NEWS RELEASE #99 - August 25, 1999


After meeting with the S.C. Drought Response Committee Tuesday in Columbia, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources decided not to increase the drought status from moderate to severe.

This decision was based on the increased potential for precipitation and input from S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) that most water supplies are sufficient to meet demands. The committee will reconvene next Tuesday to determine whether the expected precipitation has been enough to deter a severe drought declaration.

Although the drought status remains the same, committee members continue to worry about low river flows and their diluting capacity. Industries along waterways are permitted to discharge wastes into rivers based on a certain level of streamflow. Therefore, DHEC has sent letters to permit holders asking them to monitor discharges closely. The committee encourages DHEC and all dischargers to increase monitoring of water quality to avoid any adverse impacts to aquatic life and other stream uses.

The agricultural representatives emphasized that rainfall is too late to save many crops. The damage has already been done to many fields of corn, cotton and tobacco. The drought has had a devastating impact on pastures forcing early sale of many cattle. Late rains can benefit late-planted cotton, soybeans, and the fall vegetable crop.

Forecasters are keeping watch on rain coming in due to an upper atmospheric flow. State Climatologist Mike Helfert says although recent rains have not relieved drought conditions, they are helpful. "Every rain event buys us time," Helfert said. South Carolina may receive rain from Tropical Storm Dennis, particularly along the coast. The committee will assess the rainfall impacts from the current atmospheric flow and from Tropical Storm Dennis at next Tuesday's meeting.

Bud Badr, hydrologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said it will take a significant rain to replenish the depleted groundwater storage. Water withdrawers who depend on shallow wells or unregulated streams may experience water shortages. As water quantity decreases water quality will deteriorate.

The Drought Response Committee encourages local water suppliers to implement drought response ordinances and plans for their area. Water suppliers are requested to send copies of any notice of voluntary or mandatory reductions to the Drought Information Center. The public is strongly encouraged to continue monitoring water resources closely and help by conducting voluntary water conservation as a contingency until water levels are restored.

The DNR will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed. The public should contact the center at (803) 737-0800 for more information or if other problems arise. Integrated drought information is available on the DNR's State Climatology Office Drought 1999 web site.

For more information, contact Mike Helfert, State Climatologist, or Hope Mizzell, State Drought Program coordinator, in the DNR State Climatology Office at (803) 737-0800 in Columbia.

Find out more about the State Climatology Office at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100.

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