South Carolina Drought News Release
State Climate Office (803) 734-9100

Governor, DNR urge voluntary water conservation

As extreme drought conditions intensify across the Upstate, Gov. Mark Sanford is encouraging citizens in the Upstate to conserve water, "As this drought continues, we believe it's very important for South Carolinians in the Upstate to take individual initiative to conserve water. We think these conservation recommendations from DNR are a good step toward that end, and would urge citizens to do what they can at home and at work to impact their water use -- because doing what we can to conserve now could help avoid restrictions later on."

State and local representatives from the South Carolina Drought Response Committee upgraded the drought level to extreme for five Upstate counties, Cherokee, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg, on June 30. While some locations from the midlands to the coast have received beneficial rain over the past few weeks conditions in the Upstate continue to deteriorate. Hope Mizzell, SC State Climatologist, reports that the last 30-day rainfall totals through July 20 vary extensively across the State with Effingham reporting 10.37 inches (209% of normal), Cheraw 11.13 inches (222% of normal), Edisto Beach 9.69 inches (199% of normal), while Clemson has received only 1.20 inches (30% of normal), Greer 2.36 inches (55% of normal), and Greenwood 0.78 inches (21% of normal).

Drought conditions have continued to deteriorate in the Upstate with significant impacts to agriculture, forestry resources, groundwater, streams, and lakes. According to Dr. Masaaki Kiuchi, SCDNR Hydrologist “Streamflows have been extremely low for this time of the year. Some rock wells have gone dry while water levels in other wells have been declining. The Savannah lake system from Lake Jocassee to Lake Thurmond has been impacted greatly by the drought. Lake Hartwell and Lake Thurmond levels are over 10 feet below target levels. Without significant precipitation, lake levels will continue to decline throughout the state this summer."

Mizzell stresses that the drought conditions that have dominated the States climate over the past decade have made all South Carolinians aware that we can no longer take our water resources for granted. Whether you are currently in the extreme drought area or not we can all do our part to be better stewards of our limited water resources. Contact State Climatologist Hope Mizzell at (803) 734-9568 in Columbia for more information about the ongoing drought.

DNR offers these tips for water conservation in and around your home.


  1. Turn off water while brushing teeth and shaving.
  2. Take shorter showers.
  3. Install a water-efficient showerhead (2.5 gallons or less per minute).
  4. Use less water in the bathtub. Filling the tub uses about 50 gallons of water. Try bathing in about 10 gallons. Plug the tub when you shower to see how much water is just going down the drain.
  5. Wash only full loads of dishes in dishwasher. A dishwasher uses about 14 gallons of water per load.
  6. When you buy a new toilet, purchase a low flow model (1.6 gallons or less per flush).
  7. Check your toilet for "silent" leaks by placing a little food coloring in the tank and seeing if it leaks into the bowl.
  8. Avoid using the toilet as a trash basket for facial tissues and similar items. Each flush uses 5 to 7 gallons of water.
  9. Reduce the use of garbage disposals, which use as much as 2 gallons of water per minute, by peeling vegetables, eggs and other foods on newspapers. Wrap the food waste and dispose of it with the trash. Or, use food waste in a garden compost pile.
  10. Keep a gallon of drinking water in the refrigerator rather than running the tap for cold water.
  11. Run your washing machine with a full load of clothes. Match your washers load selector to each load size. Wash with warm water instead of hot, rinse with cold water instead of warm. Wash with cold water when you can. (When possible) hang your wash out to dry.
  12. Buy an energy-saving washing machine. Buy an Energy Star model and save water and electricity.
  13. Use a front-loading washing machine. The newest innovation in washers is the front-loading washing machine. These save even more water and electricity.
  14. Teach children to turn water faucets off tightly after use.


  1. Water yards wisely. Remember that landscaping is most likely your number one user of water. Your lawn and plants benefit most from slow, thorough and infrequent watering. Minimize evaporation by watering in the early morning or evening.
  2. Use drought-tolerant plants and grasses for landscaping and reduce grass-covered areas.
  3. Cut your grass at least three inches high to shade the roots, making it more drought-tolerant; keep your mower sharp for the healthiest grass.
  4. Mulch to retain water. Spread leaves, lawn clippings, or landscaping tarps around plants. Mulching also controls weeds that compete with garden plants for water.
  5. Install a drip-irrigation water system (with a timer is even better) for valuable plants.
  6. Try to water only in the evening or very early morning to minimize evaporation.
  7. If you use porous pavement (gravel is a good example) instead of asphalt for driveways and walkways, the rain can recharge groundwater supplies instead of running off and contributing to erosion.
  8. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean off your driveway or sidewalk.
  9. Wash your car less often or wash it at a car wash where they clean and recycle the water. If you do wash your car at home, use a bucket of soapy water rather than running the hose. Keep a spring-loaded nozzle on the hose.

DNR protects and manages South Carolinas natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the states natural resources and its people.

Find out more about the State Climatology Office at or by calling (803) 734-9100.