South Carolina Legislature

1976 South Carolina Code of Laws
Updated through the end of the 2009 Session


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Title 49 - Waters, Water Resources and Drainage



SECTION 49-1-10. Navigable streams considered common highways; obstruction as nuisance.

All streams which have been rendered or can be rendered capable of being navigated by rafts of lumber or timber by the removal of accidental obstructions and all navigable watercourses and cuts are hereby declared navigable streams and such streams shall be common highways and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of this State as to citizens of the United States, without any tax or impost therefor, unless such tax or impost be expressly provided for by the General Assembly. If any person shall obstruct any such stream, otherwise than as in Chapters 1 to 9 of this Title provided, such person shall be guilty of a nuisance and such obstruction may be abated as other public nuisances are by law.

SECTION 49-1-15. Permits for hydroelectric projects involving impoundment or diversion of waters of navigable streams.

(A) Except as otherwise provided herein, no person may erect, construct, or build any structure or works in order to dam or impound the waters of a navigable stream or any waters which are tributary to a navigable stream for the purpose of generating hydroelectricity without securing a permit from the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Any projects that are subject to Chapter 33 of Title 58 of the Utility Facility Siting and Environmental Protection Act are exempted from this section. Further exempted are projects where the project developer without exercising condemnation authority is the existing owner of the property upon which the project is to be constructed and projects which do not exceed sixty acres including in both cases inundated land.

(B) The Department of Health and Environmental Control may issue a permit for the projects in this subsection after a thorough review of the proposed project and a finding that it meets any regulations of the board and the following standards:

(1) The proposed project does not halt or prevent navigation by watercraft of the type ordinarily frequenting the reach of the watercourse in question.

(2) The projects proposed for shoaled areas of the watercourse provide a means of portage or bypass of the project structure.

(3) The need for the proposed project far outweighs the historical and current uses of the stream in question.

(4) The impact of the proposed project will not threaten or endanger plant or animal life.

(5) The recreational and aesthetic benefits or detriments caused by the proposed project do not alter the watercourse or damage riparian lands.

(C) The Attorney General shall represent before any federal agency the department, if so requested by the department, respecting the same application.

SECTION 49-1-16. Fees for permits.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control may charge a fee to an applicant for a permit for any construction, alteration, dredging, filling, or other activity in navigable waters of the State. If the project is commercial or industrial and is in support of operations that charge for the production, distribution, or sale of goods or services, a fee of five hundred dollars must be charged, except if the aerial crossing of navigable waters by conductors or other wires supported solely by structures outside the navigable waters the fee shall be one hundred dollars. If the work is noncommercial in nature and provides personal benefits that have no connection with a commercial enterprise the fee must be fifty dollars. The department shall remit the fees to the State Treasurer and shall be issued a credit for any portion of the fees necessary to offset its costs in processing, investigating and taking final action on each permit application. Any remaining portion shall be credited to the general fund of the State.

SECTION 49-1-20. Permitting logs and the like to obstruct or interfere with navigation of rivers or harbors.

Any person who shall be found guilty of cutting any trees or tree tops, brush or logs, or throwing any refuse material whatever into any navigable river or harbor or who shall float logs singly or in rafts in any manner whatsoever without being properly or plainly lighted at night and attended by day with a sufficient number of men to prevent such rafts and logs from negligently damaging property along the river banks, from catching on snags, sinking and forming obstructions or in any manner whatsoever interfering with the navigation of or obstructing such rivers or harbors shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and punished by fine not exceeding two hundred and fifty dollars or by imprisonment not exceeding two years. All such trees, logs, rafts, floating booms or pens of timber dangerous to navigation in any such river may be captured, secured, properly rafted to market and sold, one half of the net proceeds over the expense of capturing and marketing to be paid to the county treasurer of the county in which such timber may be captured and the other half to the person capturing it. But this section shall not apply to logs or timber accidentally drifting loose from a raft or from any stationary boom where timber is kept for proper use or for proper rafting or to any logs floated off from the owner by a sudden freshet before he shall have had an opportunity to raft them.

SECTION 49-1-30. Duty of landowners to clean out their streams.

All landowners shall clean out all streams upon and adjacent to their lands at least twice in each year, at such particular times as the respective governing bodies of the several counties of the State may appoint and according to the directions of such governing bodies, and shall keep them clear of all obstruction to a free and uninterrupted flow of sand and water through the channels thereof. This section shall not be construed to prevent the erection and maintenance of any dam across any of such streams for any useful purpose but such governing bodies may require the owner of any such dam to build and maintain therein suitable and sufficient floodgates and waterways to afford free passage through them of the sand and water, so that the streams above may be properly cleaned out and the lands adjacent thereto properly drained and for such purpose they may require the owner of any such dam to open the floodgates or waterways therein and keep them open for such reasonable time as they may deem to be necessary. Any person violating any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of maintaining a nuisance and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than fifty dollars or imprisoned not more than thirty days if ten days' notice to abate such nuisance shall have been given.

SECTION 49-1-40. Obstructing streams generally.

Any person who shall fell, cut or throw or cause to be felled, cut or thrown across or into any of such streams any tree, log or other timber or any trash, brush, debris or obstruction of any kind whatsoever shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be punished by a fine of not more than fifty dollars or imprisonment for not more than thirty days.

SECTION 49-1-50. Sale or purchase of drifted lumber or timber; penalties.

(A) No person may sell any drifted lumber or timber, not the property of the person, without first advertising the sale of it at public auction at least three times and at least three days before the date of the sale in the newspaper having the greatest circulation in the county in which the drifted lumber or timber is found and taken, giving an accurate description of any and all marks by which the lumber or timber may be identified.

(B) It is unlawful for a person to:

(1) sell any drifted lumber or timber without having first advertised the sale;

(2) fail to pay the proceeds of the sale to the owner on application, after deducting the expenses; or

(3) advertise a sale and then refuse to deliver any drifted lumber or timber claimed by the rightful owner, before the date of the sale after the owner has offered to pay reasonable salvage expenses.

(C) A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a:

(1) felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both, if the value of the lumber or timber is five thousand dollars or more.

(2) felony and, upon conviction, must be fined in the discretion of the court or imprisoned not more than five years, or both, if the value of the lumber or timber is more than one thousand dollars but less than five thousand dollars.

(3) misdemeanor triable in magistrate's court if the value of the lumber or timber is one thousand dollars or less. Upon conviction, the person must be fined or imprisoned not more than is permitted by law without presentment or indictment by the grand jury.

(D) A person who purchases drifted lumber or timber that has not been advertised as provided may be indicted as a receiver of stolen goods and must be fined or imprisoned as provided in Section 16-13-180.

SECTION 49-1-60. Tolls allowed owner of shores or wharves.

The owner of the shores or any wharf erected on the shores or in or over the waters of any navigable stream may charge reasonable tolls for the use thereof.

SECTION 49-1-80. International Paper Company may use water from Great Pee Dee River.

The State hereby grants permission to the International Paper Company to divert from the Great Pee Dee River, for use in the course of operation of its plant located at Georgetown in Georgetown County, one hundred cubic feet of water per second each day. The point of diversion shall be at a point twelve and eight-tenths miles above the Yauhanna Bridge on Route U. S. No. 701, and the main works for the diversion shall be located on the south side of the river. Provided, that the International Paper Company shall obtain all necessary rights of way from the landowners concerned, from and including the point of diversion to the point of use at the plant in Georgetown. Provided, further, that the total amount of water taken out of the Great Pee Dee River pursuant to the terms of this section and Section 49-1-90 shall not exceed eight per cent of the flow of the stream at the point of diversion. Provided, further, that this section and Section 49-1-90 shall not affect the right of any person to recover, in a court of competent jurisdiction, damages sustained as a result of the diversion of water permitted by this section and Section 49-1-90. Provided, further, that the International Paper Company shall take the water authorized herein as is, and shall have no legal or equitable recourse against any present or future user on said river or tributary thereof unless such upper user is violating the laws, rules or regulations regulating the pollution or control of rivers and streams of this State. Provided, further, that nothing in this section and Section 49-1-90 contained shall prevent any riparian owner of lands, either above or below the point of diversion, to use the waters of the Pee Dee River for irrigation and for other agricultural purposes.

SECTION 49-1-90. Right of others to diversions from Great Pee Dee River.

Any person, firm, corporation, municipality or county which may acquire rights of way for canals, pipelines or ditches, shall have to the same extent the same rights of diversion granted in Section 49-1-80 to International Paper Company, to be exercised in the same manner.

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