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- 23 May 24, 2000
DROUGHT STATUS OFFICIALLY UPGRADED FOR ALL 46 SOUTH CAROLINA COUNTIES
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources has upgraded the drought status for all
46 counties with 27 now ranked "moderate," the second level, and
the others "incipient,"the first level of drought.
S.C. Drought Response Committee which met today (Wednesday) in
Columbia voted unanimously to upgrade the drought status across the
entire state based on below normal precipitation, record low
streamflow levels, agricultural stress and the potential threat
of forest fires. Committee members emphasized their concern that
South Carolina is facing another year of drought with all indications
that its severity will only intensify.
An incipient drought declaration issued last year on October 21, was
upgraded to "moderate" for Abbeville, Aiken, Anderson, Calhoun,
Cherokee, Chester, Clarendon, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenville,
Greenwood, Kershaw, Lancaster, Laurens, Lee, Lexington, McCormick
Newberry, Oconee, Orangeburg, Pickens, Richland, Saluda, Spartanburg,
Sumter, Union and York. A moderate drought declaration, the second of
four drought levels specified in the Drought Response Act of 1985,
means that drought conditions have continued to deteriorate and are
expected to persist.
An "incipient drought," the first drought level, was declared for the
remaining counties: Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley,
Charleston, Chesterfield, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Florence,
Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Jasper, Marion, Marlboro and Williamsburg.
According to the South Carolina Agricultural Statistics Service,
fields across the state are in dire need of rain. Dry soils have
stalled many planting operations. Fields that have been planted
are showing little growth due to the dry soils. Corn is wilting in
several areas. Soil moisture ratings across the state have declined
to 29% very short, 62% short and 9% adequate.
Dale Linvill, agricultural meteorologist with Clemson University,
explained that the maximum amount of available soil moisture (top 2
ft.) for South Carolina ranges from 11/2 to 3 inches. At present the
moisture available for plants is less than 10% of these values.
South Carolina Forestry Commission spokesman Ken Cabe reported
that as of May 24 wildfire occurrences are still fairly low, but
control difficulties are increasing due to hot, dry conditions.
Very intense burning observed on recent fires is causing significant
damage to the affected forest. If the drought continues, lack of
moisture alone is expected to take a toll on forest growth and
David Baize, Water Monitoring division director with the S.C.
Department of Health and Environmental Control (DNR) reported that
his agency has issued letters to all water system owners and
dischargers requesting their attention to the drought conditions.
The discharge of wastewater into low flowing streams should be
regulated to avoid adverse impacts to the receiving streams,
aquatic life and other stream uses.
Rod Cherry, hydrologist with the S.C. Department of Natural
Resources (DNR), expressed his concern that water withdrawers who
depend on wells or unregulated streams may experience water shortages
and deteriorating water quality in the near future as water
storage continues to decrease in the weeks ahead.
Both DNR and DHEC stress to the public and water suppliers that while
water restrictions are not popular, early and effective use of
voluntary restrictions may be necessary to protect water integrity
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 DNR will
continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as needed.
The public should contact the center at (803) 737-0800 for more
For more information, contact State Drought Program coordinator
Hope Mizzell in the DNR State Climatology Office at (803) 737-0800
Find out more about the State Climatology Office at http://www.dnr.sc.gov/climate/sco/ or by calling (803) 734-9100.