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Local stakeholders sought to guide water planning in South Carolina’s Saluda River Basin

September 26, 2022

The Middle Saluda River flows tranquilly under a bridge at Jones Gap State Park in northern Greenville County. Two public meetings are set--one in Columbia and one in Greenville--to talk about surface water management in the Saluda River basin over the next 50 years. (Photo: SCDNR/Greg Lucas)

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has announced dates for two public meetings to provide citizens with an overview of a new water planning framework that will guide surface water management in the Saluda River basin over the next 50 years.

The meetings will also serve as venues for engaging volunteers interested in serving on a council that will develop and implement the plan for the Saluda River basin. Meetings are scheduled in Columbia at Saluda Shoals Park on Tuesday, Nov. 1 and in Greenville at Roper Mountain Science Center on Thursday, Nov. 3. Both meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m.

In March 2018, SCDNR established the State Water Planning Process Advisory Committee to help draft a “framework” document that will guide the development of individual river basin plans for each of the state’s eight major river basins. The Planning Process Advisory Committee includes representatives from a wide range of organizations, including the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, Clemson University’s S.C. Water Resources Center, municipal and rural water systems, conservation groups, power companies and agricultural interests. In 2019, the group completed a report, the “South Carolina State Water Planning Framework,” which describes the river basin planning process and the intended contents of a river basin plan.

“The Planning Framework represents a foundation for the development of regional and state water plans, which are essential for our continued economic growth and protection of the resources and environment that we all share,” said Ken Rentiers, deputy director for SCDNR’s Land, Water and Conservation Division.

Each river basin plan will be created and overseen by a river basin council, a working group of stakeholders with water interests in the basin. River basin councils in the Edisto, Broad, and Pee Dee River basins have already been established and planning activities in those basins are ongoing. The Saluda River basin has been selected as the next basin to implement the new planning framework. Planning efforts and councils in the other four basins will follow as funding becomes available.

At its most fundamental level, a river basin plan will address four basic questions:

  1. What is the basin’s current available water supply and demand?
  2. What are the current permitted and registered water uses within the basin?
  3. What will be the water demand in the basin throughout the Planning Horizon (50-year planning period) and will the available water supply be adequate to meet that demand?
  4. What water management strategies will be employed in the basin to ensure the available supply meets or exceeds future projected demand?

As stated in the Planning Framework, “Answering the fourth question is the heart of the water-planning process and greatly benefits from cooperation and consensus among all stakeholders throughout the basin. A successful and equitable river basin plan addresses the effects all water users have on one another and on the resource.”

Public involvement is critical to the goal of ensuring that future generations of South Carolinians have secure, well-managed supplies of our most critical natural resource—water. You can download a copy of the “South Carolina State Water Planning Framework” and learn more about the Planning Process Advisory Committee and the research underpinning this initiative.

Meeting locations and times:

Columbia—Nov. 1, 2022, 6-8 p.m.

Saluda Shoals Park – River Center

5605 Bush River Road

Columbia, SC 29212

Directions via Google Maps

Greenville—Nov. 3, 2022, 6-8 p.m.

Roper Mountain Science Center

Environmental Science & Sustainability Building, Room 201

Greenville, SC 29615

Directions via Google Maps