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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

SPECIAL NEWS RELEASE #00 - 56 October 26, 2000


The S.C. Drought Response Committee voted Oct. 26 to maintain the current drought status, which lists 11 South Carolina counties in an "incipient" drought, the first drought level, and 35 counties in the next level of "moderate" drought.

Weather conditions are not expected to bring any drought relief in the next two weeks, and some areas, such as Columbia, are approaching a record number of consecutive days without measurable rainfall.

The S.C. Drought Response Committee, which met Oct. 26 at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, is made up of several state agencies along with municipalities, counties, public and private water suppliers, public service districts, power generation facilities, industries, special purpose districts, private citizens and commissions of public works.

The committee voted unanimously to maintain the current drought status. Listed in the incipient drought level are two coastal South Carolina counties - Beaufort and Charleston - along with the nine Pee Dee counties of Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Georgetown, Horry, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg. Incipient is the first of the four levels of drought.

A "moderate" drought declaration remains 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. A moderate drought declaration, the second of four drought levels specified in the Drought Response Act of 2000, means that drought conditions have continued to deteriorate and are expected to persist.

Bernie Palmer, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Columbia, predicted no substantial rain in the next 10 to 14 days. Some cities are approaching records for the greatest number of consecutive days without measurable precipitation. Columbiaís record of 40 days was set in 1961, but as of Oct. 26, Columbia had been 31 days with virtually no rainfall.

Ken Cabe, of the S.C. Forestry Commission, reported that fire occurrences are at a minimum; however, without rainfall, problems will increase, especially after the first frost.

Masaaki Kiuchi, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hydrologist, reported streamflows across the state remain very low and groundwater and lake levels are still declining. The very low lake levels have significantly impacted recreation and many businesses along the lakes. Businesses on Lakes Marion and Moultrie attended the meeting requesting help locating financial relief. Many of the businesses are on the verge of bankruptcy because of low lake levels due to the drought. These businesses are driven by tourism, and if people canít use the boat ramps, fish or simply enjoy the water scenery, they cancel their trips to the lakes.

Alfred Vang, deputy director of the DNR Land, Water and Conservation Division, emphasized that the low lake levels are impacting a much larger group than just the businesses on the lake and will have a ripple effect throughout the entire state. A major source of South Carolinaís number one financial resource - tourism - is being threatened. Vang promised the group that the State Drought Program would investigate sources of assistance from the local to the national levels.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources, which houses the State Drought Program, will continue to monitor the drought situation and provide updates as needed. For more information, contact Hope Mizzell.

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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