Gov. Mark Sanford today joined state legislators, conservation advocates, and the business community to sign the Water Withdrawal Act (H.452), a stewardship bill aimed at ensuring that South Carolina's water resources are allocated equitably. The bill establishes a permitting system designed to protect South Carolina rivers and allow for appropriate withdrawal by the state's businesses and local governments.
"We have a sacred duty to steward South Carolina's natural resources wisely, and this bill represents a step toward fulfilling that duty," Gov. Sanford said. "Up until now we've had no means by which to ensure that water withdrawals from our state's rivers and lakes were consistent with the goal of preserving our state's natural heritage and the larger notion of quality of life. With this permitting process in place, we can better protect our state's water resources from real or potential abuses. There's a host of people to thank for their years of hard work in getting this bill through the legislature, but I'd particularly thank Senators Chip Campsen and Paul Campbell, and Stephen Spitz, Chairman of the Water Law Review Commission created by our Administration in 2003 to study just these type of issues."
This permitting process also allows state officials - including the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) - to consider whether specific uses of river water would adversely affect natural habitats. New industries that want to use more than 3 million gallons a month from a lake or one of 15 designated river systems must get permits, while existing users would be guaranteed permits.