Land, Water and Conservation
The mission of the Land, Water and Conservation (LWC) Division is to provide scientific and reliable information to policy and decision makers and to the public in order to understand, sustain, and protect the state’s natural resources for the benefit of all generations. The Division satisfies this mission by implementing programs that address planning, research, technical assistance and public education. The LWC Division also coordinates SCDNR review of environmental impacts of construction and alteration activities in the 38 inland counties of South Carolina.
The hydrology staff conducts routine monitoring and scientific studies of the state’s surface and groundwater resources and provides technical assistance to water users. During FY 2009-10, the SCDNR Hydrology Program staff reviewed and suggested improvements to the newly adopted Surface Water legislation regarding the permitting of surface-water withdrawals; advised representatives from the Attorney General’s office regarding hydrologic issues associated with South Carolina’s lawsuit against North Carolina to prevent additional transfers of water out of the Catawba River basin; and worked with Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and other stakeholders of the Savannah River basin to establish the Savannah River Basin Advisory Council. The group is made up of local lake association members, environmental groups, economic development officials and local and state government officials that will help to develop water-use policies and drought contingency planning and to resolve other water-related issues in the basin.
Additionally, hydrology staff provided technical assistance to the Environmental Office regarding numerous projects. Such assistance can include providing streamflow statistics for the determination of minimum instream flow requirements of a river. This type of information can facilitate management decisions and operating guidelines for water users. Staff also convened the SC Drought Response Committee (of the State Climatology Office) six times to review conditions, issue declarations, and recommend mitigation actions in response to the record drought conditions in the Savannah River Basin and Upstate South Carolina an and developed an online Regional Drought Monitor Application system.
The Aquatic Nuisance Species Program works with state, federal, county, and local entities through cost share to prevent the introduction and control the spread of non-native invasive species, such as hydrilla, in the state’s public waters. Aquatic invasive species adversely impact native plant and animal populations, disrupt natural ecosystem functions, and impair beneficial uses of our waterways including public water supplies, recreational activities and power generation. The program provided aquatic invasive species management and control directly to 2,081 acres of state waters in 26 waterbodies and coordinated with Santee Cooper’s control program on Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie on an additional 2,438 acres for a total of 4,519 acres.
The Flood Mitigation Program coordinates floodplain management and National Flood Insurance Program functions in the state. The program trained over 200 community officials and professionals, provided technical assistance to over 3,500 community leaders and citizens, and delivered information with over 2,000 website visits pertaining to the Flood Mitigation Program. This program benefited the state’s population in 34 counties through the new digital flood maps which provide greater accuracy and ease of use.
The SC State Climatology Office is the state’s official archive and focal point for climate and weather information. The office serves state government and the public by providing certified documented historical climate information, seasonal and severe weather predictions, agricultural weather services, drought response planning and hurricane and tornado tracking and impact assessment. In addition to serving on the State’s Emergency Operations Team, an in-house severe weather notification alert was developed by the office and now reaches nearly 1,000 users. The staff answers, on average, 50 requests per month from a variety of interests that include law enforcement, education, insurance, engineering, agriculture, construction, tourism and media.
The Geological Survey provides reliable geologic information of the state in the form of geologic maps, conducting geologic framework studies, providing assistance in geologic hazard mitigation, and commenting on geology aspects of environmental permitting.
Habitat Protection programs protect special natural and cultural resources through the Heritage Trust Program and work with local advisory councils to manage the state’s 10 scenic rivers.
SCDNR works with the state’s 46 soil and water conservation districts to provide technical assistance and information on best management practices for land and water conservation. Services include farm planning, urban and rural flood control, soil conservation, water quality initiatives and wildlife management.
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Land, Water & Conservation (LWC): LWC FY 2009-10 – Highlights
- Initiated a series of stakeholders meetings to receive input on the update of the State Water Plan.
- Monitored continuously ground-water levels in 110 wells, saltwater intrusion in 5 wells along the coast, and pond levels at one Carolina bay. A total of 111 well records were added to the Piedmont well database; 171 well-site recommendations were made in the Piedmont; and 3 springs were added to the statewide springs database.
- Responded to 870 requests for technical assistance during the year, and made 13 presentations to water professionals and the general public regarding the state’s water resources.
- The Aquatic Nuisance Species Program provided public outreach to the citizens of South Carolina via public meetings, wildlife oriented events, distribution of educational materials, and direct communication to landowners concerning effective treatment recommendations. Costs were controlled for the agency by utilizing more efficient survey and treatment schedules along with the increased efficacy of newer herbicides. A new state contract was initiated and approved for aquatic applications and herbicides that resulted in significant cost savings due to lower application costs and lower herbicide costs. Additionally, over 8,650 acres of Phragmites control was conducted during the last decade (550 acres in 2010) to provide habitat restoration for waterfowl and other species in the coastal marsh areas of the state.
- New maps covering approximately 512 miles have been created. That mapping covers parts of the Inner Piedmont, Savannah River Basin, and mouth of the Santee River. The areas had never been mapped, and information was also digitized so it would be available in electronic format. Six older Piedmont maps and a 22-quadrangle compilation of the Lake Marion-Lake Marion area also were digitized.