South Carolina General Assembly
106th Session, 1985-1986

Bill 2243

                    Current Status

Bill Number:               2243
Ratification Number:       96
Act Number:                63
Introducing Body:          House
Subject:                        Drought response act
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(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)

(A63, R96, H2243)


Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:


SECTION 1. (a) Even though South Carolina is blessed with abundant water resources, the State periodically experiences the effects of the climatological condition known as drought. For several years, South Carolina has been visited by drought during the summer and fall months, especially during 1981.

(b) The effects of drought reach all South Carolinians in some manner. Farmers are directly injured when rainfall is insufficient for profitable crop production. Industries may be burdened with uncertainty in water supply and the necessity of increased water treatment. Municipalities and other public water suppliers must seek adequate water supplies to insure sufficient capacity for domestic needs as well as necessary reserves for fire protection.

(c) The continuing prosperity of South Carolina depends upon its water resources. During periods of drought the state's water resources must be carefully and closely monitored, conserved, and managed in the best interest of all South Carolinians.

(d) The General Assembly finds that responding to drought is an appropriate activity to be coordinated by state government. Water, unlike many natural resources, is not static and stationary; rather, water is an ephemeral and transient resource, existing in various parts of the hydrologic cycle and always in movement. These qualities mandate coordination at the state level during drought periods to insure equity in management for every region of the State.

(e) Responding to drought will require coordination of effort of both local and state agencies; therefore, in order to promote the necessary coordination, the General Assembly finds that a single state agency should be delegated authority to develop, coordinate, administer, and enforce a comprehensive drought response plan.

Public policy declared

SECTION 2. In order to protect the health and safety and to promote the general welfare of all South Carolinians, it is hereby declared to be the public policy of this State that during periods of drought, water resources must be carefully and closely monitored, conserved, and managed.

Drought Response Act of 1985 enacted

SECTION 3. Title 49 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:



Section 49-23-10. This chapter may be cited as the South Carolina Drought Response Act of 1985.

Section 49-23-20. In this chapter:

(a) 'Commission' means the South Carolina Water Resources Commission.

(b) 'Conservation' means a reduction in usage of water, to prevent depletion or waste of the resource.

(c) 'Drought response committee' means the committee created under Section 49-23-50 to be convened to address drought related problems and responses.

(d) 'Office of primary responsibility' means the South Carolina Water Resources Commission.

(e) 'Person' means any and all persons, including individuals, firms, partnerships, associations, public or private institutions, municipalities or political subdivisions, governmental agencies, or private or public corporations organized under the laws of this State or any other state or country.

(f) 'Water resources' means any and all water on or beneath the surface of the ground, including natural and artificial water courses, lakes or ponds, and water percolating, standing, or flowing beneath the surface of the ground.

(g) 'Diffused surface water' means waters of a casual or vagrant character, lying or running on the surface of the earth but not in definite courses, streams, or waterbodies.

(h) 'Incipient drought' means that there is a significant threat of a drought as indicated by a Palmer Index of -0.50 to -1.49. The incipient drought phase will initiate inhouse mobilization by Commission personnel and the drought response committee. The State Climatology Office, which routinely monitors the climatic variables, will inform those agencies on the notification list that a portion of the State is experiencing an incipient drought condition. The Commission will increase monitoring activities to identify

any change in existing conditions.

(i) 'Moderate drought' exists when the Palmer Index reaches the -1.50 to -2.99 range and moderate drought conditions have developed as verified by other means. If conditions indicate that this situation will persist, statements will be released to the news media by the State Climatologist, and appropriate agencies will accelerate monitoring activities.

(j) 'Severe drought' exists when the Palmer Index reaches the -3.00 to -3.99 range and severe drought conditions are verified by other means. This phase will be verified utilizing data from various agencies in conjunction with National Weather Service forecasts and routinely monitored data. A drought of this severity will normally require an official declaration by the Commission and water-use restrictions.

(k) 'Extreme drought' exists when the Palmer Index reaches or falls below -4.00 and extreme drought conditions are verified by other means. The State Climatology Office will continue to evaluate information from various sources. Upon confirmation of an Extreme Drought Alert Phase, the drought response committee may recommend that the Governor issue a public statement that an extreme drought situation exists and that appropriate water-use restrictions be imposed.

Section 49-23-30. The South Carolina Water Resources Commission shall formulate, coordinate, and execute a comprehensive drought response plan. The plan must be developed consistent with the South Carolina Water Resources Planning and Coordination Act (Chapter 3 of Title 49) to the extent that the plan is compatible with the comprehensive state water resources policy. In carrying out these responsibilities, the Commission shall seek and utilize to the extent possible the input, resources, and expertise of other state agencies capable of assisting in drought planning and response.

Section 49-23-40. This chapter applies to all of the water resources of the State, but this chapter does not authorize any restriction in use of water from any pond completely situated on

private property and fed only by diffused surface water. For the purposes of this chapter, the waters of the State shall include all groundwater and all surface water within the State as defined in Section 49-23-10. The drought response plan shall apply to every person using water in this State.

Section 49-23-50. Consistent with the South Carolina Water Resources Planning and Coordination Act (Chapter 3 of Title 49), the Commission, without limiting its general authority, may:

(a) Routinely monitor and record climatic and other data necessary for the determination of drought conditions.

(b) Make investigations it considers proper to determine whether action by the Commission in discharging its duties is necessary.

(c) Determine levels of drought based upon data collected.

(d) Established drought management areas within the State in order to:

(1) Enable drought response to be accomplished within defined geographical areas;

(2) Prevent overly broad response to drought.

Statewide action usually should not be taken in instances in which action in a particular area experiencing drought is more appropriate.

(e) Establish drought alert phases based upon drought levels and provide the following kinds of notice of each drought alert phase:

(1) The Commission shall notify municipal and county governments in the affected drought management area, persons designated on notification lists, and other appropriate agencies and individuals.

(2) The Commission shall publish notice of each drought alert phase at least once in a newspaper of general circulation in the areas affected.

(3) The Commission may take any other action appropriate to announce a drought alert.

(f) Coordinate and implement responses to

announced drought alert phases after required notification.

(g) Promulgate regulations reasonably necessary to collect and distribute information, convene committees, promote water conservation, govern practice and procedure before the Commission and to fulfill its duties and the purposes of this chapter.

Section 49-23-60. (a) The Commission shall coordinate appropriate drought response upon consultation with a drought response committee. The drought response committee is composed of two parts, as follows:

(1) A statewide committee composed of the following state agencies: South Carolina Water Resources Commission, South Carolina Preparedness Division of the Office of the Adjutant General, South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Agriculture, South Carolina Forestry Commission, and South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department.

(2) A local committee within each drought management area. The local committees shall consist of the following members to be appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the legislative delegations from each of the drought management areas to represent the following interests: counties, municipalities, public service districts, private water suppliers, agriculture, industry, domestic users, regional councils government, and Commissions of Public Works. The Governor on the recommendation of the legislative delegations from each of the drought management areas may appoint additional members as necessary to insure broad-based input on the committee.

The statewide committee shall coordinate planning and response within each drought management area only upon consultation with the appropriate local committee. The Commission shall chair the drought response committee and provide administrative support.

(b) The drought response committee shall convene as necessary upon call by the chair. In carrying out its responsibilities, the drought response committee shall consult with and invite participation by representatives of municipalities, counties, and Commissions of Public Works in affected drought management areas.

(c) The Commission may consult and cooperate with federal agencies and agencies of the states of Georgia and North Carolina in carrying out its responsibilities under this chapter.

Section 49-23-70. (a) Upon the inception of a drought alert phase, the Commission is responsible for disseminating public information concerning all aspects of the drought. The initial action in responding to drought must be public education, providing information as to existing and potential conditions and water conservation measures necessary to meet the demand presented at each drought alert phase.

(b) The Commission shall provide available information on water demands and use to any significant water user, public or private, in order to promote voluntary water conservation.

(c) The Commission may promulgate regulations to specify categories of nonessential water use. Water used strictly for firefighting purposes, health and medical purposes, maintaining instream flow requirements, and the use of water to satisfy federal, state, or local public health and safety requirements is considered essential water use. The Commission by regulation may provide for the mandatory curtailment of nonessential water uses during periods of severe or extreme drought in drought management areas. Mandatory curtailment of nonessential water use shall become effective only after the drought response committee determines the action to be reasonably necessary to insure supplies of water in drought management areas. Upon such a finding the drought response committee shall determine which categories of nonessential water use must be curtailed after reviewing each category by the following standards:

(1) the purpose of the use,

(2) the suitability of the use to the watercourse, lake, or acquifer,

(3) the economic value of the use,

(4) the social value of the use,

(5) the extent and amount of the harm it causes,

(6) the practicality of avoiding the harm by adjusting the use or method of use of one proprietor or the other,

(7) the practicality of adjusting the quantity of water used by each proprietor,

(8) the protection of existing values of water uses, land, investments, and enterprises,

(9) the consumptive or nonconsumptive nature of the use by adding.

Following such determination, the Commission shall issue a declaration specifying the drought management areas affected and identifying the categories of nonessential water use to be curtailed. The declaration must be widely distributed to news media and must be published at least once a week in a newspaper of general circulation in each county affected. Any person adversely affected by mandatory curtailment may, within ten days after such curtailment becomes effective, submit appropriate information to the Commission and obtain relief therefrom as is appropriate. Any declaration shall continue in effect only so long as conditions in any drought management area reasonably require it, and the declaration shall be terminated by action of either the drought response committee or the Commission, and notice of termination of the declaration must be given as when originally issued. In the event that a declaration issued pursuant to this section conflicts with any ordinance or plan adopted pursuant to Section 49-23-80, the declaration shall supercede any ordinance or plan.

(d) During any drought alert phase, the Commission may offer its services to mediate any dispute arising from competing demands for water. The mediation may be undertaken only upon the request of the parties involved and may not be binding. Any mediation shall not estop or preclude the Commission and the drought response committee from taking any other action authorized by this chapter.

Section 49-23-80. In the event the drought response committee determines that drought conditions in any drought management area have progressed to the extent that the safety, security, health, or welfare of the citizens of the area are threatened, the committee shall expeditiously report the conditions to the Governor. The committee shall also present the Governor with a priority list of recommended actions designed to alleviate the effects of drought conditions in affected drought management areas. Pursuant to the authority in Section 21 of Part II of Act 199 of 1979, the Governor may declare a drought emergency. In addition to exercising existing authority pursuant to Section 21 of Part II of Act 199 of 1979, the Governor may issue emergency proclamations and regulations to require mandatory curtailment of water use or to allocate water on an equitable basis. Notwithstanding any provisions of Section 21 of Part II of Act 199 of 1979, emergency action ordered by the Governor in response to a drought emergency may continue so long as conditions giving rise to the declaration of the emergency continue to threaten safety, security, health, or welfare.

Section 49-23-90. (a) Municipalities, counties, public service districts, and Commissions of Public Works engaged in the business or activity of supplying water for any purpose shall develop and implement drought response ordinances, or plans where authority to enact ordinances does not exist. The ordinances or plans must be consistent with the State drought response plan, implemented through the regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter. Within six months of approval by the General Assembly of regulations promulgated to implement this chapter, the Commission shall prepare and distribute a model drought response ordinance or ordinances.

(b) Local drought ordinances or plans must be adopted within eighteen months of the approval by the General Assembly of regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter; but any proposed ordinance or plan must first be submitted to the Commission for review to determine consistency with the State Drought Response Plan.

Section 49-23-100. (a) Any person violating any provision of this act is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not less than fifty dollars nor more than one thousand dollars for each violation. In addition, if any person is adjudged to have committed the violation wilfully, the court may determine that each day during which the violation continued constitutes a separate offense.

(b) In addition, upon violation of any of the provisions of this chapter, or the regulations of the Commission, the executive director may, either before or after the institution of criminal proceedings, institute a civil action in the circuit court in the name of the State for injunctive relief. Neither the institution of the actions nor any of the proceedings relating to them shall relieve any party to the proceedings from the penalty prescribed by this chapter for any violation of the provisions of the chapter."

Time effective

SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon approval by the Governor.