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 #02 - August 26, 2002
'EXTREME' DROUGHT STATUS NOW COVERS ALL 46 COUNTIES
The South Carolina Drought Response Committee has upgraded the final seven
counties to "extreme" drought status, meaning that all 46 counties in the
state are now included in the most dire drought category.
All of South Carolina, with the exception of seven counties, has been listed
in the extreme drought status since July 24. The counties that now join the
extreme drought category are Bamberg, Berkeley, Beaufort, Charleston,
Colleton, Dorchester and Orangeburg. The Southern Drought Response Committee
voted Aug. 20 in Columbia to upgrade the seven counties to extreme status
given the agriculture and forestry conditions. The Southern Drought Response
Committee motion stated, "Conservation efforts by local water suppliers will
be determined by them contingent upon water supply availability."
The Drought Response Committee has not yet recommended statewide or regional
mandatory water restrictions. However, local officials may call for
mandatory or voluntary restrictions as part of their local response.
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which convenes the Drought
Response Committee, conducted a survey of the largest 350 water systems in
the state to determine the conservation measures in place and the success of
these measures. According to Hope Mizzell, DNR statewide drought
coordinator, 29 water systems are asking for mandatory restrictions, with
most of these systems reporting an 11-20 percent water-use reduction. Of the
water systems surveyed, 104 are asking for voluntary reductions in water
use, with most of these seeing less than a 10 percent reduction in use.
Industries in the Pee Dee area of the state are spending significant amounts
of money to deal with the drought, according to David Baize of the S.C.
Department of Health and Environmental Control. Baize estimated that Pee Dee
industries are spending hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on
measures such as installment of water-saving devices, digging new wells and
building retention ponds and cooling towers.
Jim Witkowski of International Paper, representing the Central Drought
Management Committee, said: "We have seen most industries within the Central
Drought Management Area take action wherever possible to reduce water use.
Most companies have seen significant water-use reduction since the call for
voluntary conservation." Witkowski said the International Paper plant in
Eastover has reduced its water use by 1.7 million gallons a day.
Wildfire losses continue to grow, according to Ken Cabe, information officer
with the S.C. Forestry Commission. Since Jan. 1, Forestry Commission
firefighters have responded to more than 4,000 wildfires across the state.
These fires damaged or destroyed 77 homes, 120 outbuildings, 75 vehicles and
almost 40,000 acres of woods and grasslands. Firefighters say that fires are
becoming harder to control, as heavy logs and stumps now ignite and burn
The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) forecast continues to call for below
normal rainfall for September through October 2002 in the mid-Atlantic
states and southward through North Carolina and northern South Carolina.
Hope Mizzell emphasized that even with normal rainfall this fall October and
November are traditionally our driest months with an average of 3.42 inches
in October and 3.16 inches in November. The CPC forecast calls for normal
to above normal precipiation for South Carolina from December through April. Mizzell
explained that this forecast is based on the expected development and
intensification of the El Nino phenomenon in the equatorial Pacific. A
moderate El Nino usually brings South Carolina above normal winter and early
Find out more about the State Climatology Office at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100.