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
February 8, 2001
Below normal winter rainfall concerns many
state officials as South Carolina enters its fourth consecutive year of drought. South Carolina has been
plagued with drought conditions since June 1998, the longest consecutive drought period since the 1950s.
Hydrologists reported that this is the third winter without the necessary rainfall needed to recharge our
groundwater and lakes. State officials are concerned that we will see an even greater occurrence of ponds
and wells going dry this spring and summer than last year. Homeowners with wells are encouraged to secure
alternate sources of water in case they are faced with a dry well.
Masaaki Kiuchi, S.C. Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) hydrologist, reported that streamflows across the state are very low, running at or less
than 10 percent of their normal flow for this time of year. Lake levels are also very low due to the lack
of precipitation. Boaters should use extreme caution while navigating on rivers and lakes due to the low levels.
According to the State Climatology Office, there
is no indication that the drought conditions will be significantly alleviated during the next three months.
Hope Mizzell, Drought Program Coordinator, reported that there is a 30 inch rainfall deficit since June 1998 for
many areas of South Carolina. Mizzell stressed that the drought continues to take a large toll on many of South
Carolina's resources especially tourism, forestry and agriculture. It may take years for South Carolina's ecosytems
to completely recover from this drought
Ken Cabe, of the S.C. Forestry Commission, reported that more
than half the wildfires so far this year were caused by careless debris burning. This month alone, escaped debris
burns have killed one person, destroyed several homes, and damaged numerous other structures. Forestry Commission
fire managers say January through mid-April is the most dangerous time for wildfires in South Carolina. Anyone
planning to burn out-of-doors is reminded to follow all state and local outdoor burning laws.
Alfred Vang, deputy director of the DNR Land, Water
and Conservation Division, is concerned that South Carolina may experience more widespread water shortages than during
the past three drought years due to the compounded effects. Water withdrawers who depend on wells or unregulated streams
may experience water shortages and deteriorating water quality as water storage continues to decrease. Vang also emphasized
that the discharge of wastewater into low flowing streams should be closely monitored to avoid adverse impacts to
the receiving streams, aquatic life and other stream uses.
The official drought declaration
status remains in effect since October 26, 2000, when the Drought Response Committee conducted their last meeting. A "moderate" drought declaration
is in effect for Abbeville, Aiken, Allendale, Anderson, Bamberg, Barnwell, Berkeley, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chester, Clarendon,
Colleton, Dorchester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville, Greenwood, Hampton, Jasper, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington,
McCormick, Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union and York counties.
The remaining eleven counties are in an incipient drought, the first drought level. The committee is expected to convene
within the next few weeks to review the deteriorating conditions.
The DNR is increasing monitoring activities and is notifying
water suppliers of the potential water shortage conditions. The public should contact Hope Mizzell, State Drought
Program Coordinator, in the DNR State Climatology Office at (803) 737?0800 in Columbia for more information.
Find out more about the State Climatology Office at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100.