In October, 2019 the SCDNR published the South Carolina State Water Planning Framework (Planning Framework) which details a new State and river basin planning process. The Planning Framework, developed under the guidance of the South Carolina Planning Process Advisory Committee (PPAC), describes how River Basin Plans will be developed for the State’s eight planning basins and how these plans will be used to develop a new State Water Plan. River Basin Plans will be developed over a 50-year planning horizon for the eight planning basins in the State – Broad, Catawba, Edisto, Lower Savannah-Salkehatchie, Pee Dee, Saluda, Santee, and Upper Savannah (planning basin boundaries were updated in 2022 for the Saluda, Salkehatchie, Santee, and Savannah basins). Each River Basin Plan will include assessments of current and future surface and groundwater availability and document potential water management strategies needed to address anticipated water shortages or issues. River Basin Plans also will make legislative, regulatory, program, and policy recommendations for the State.
A key component of the planning process will be the creation of a River Basin Council (RBC) for each of the eight planning basins in the State. The RBC will include up to 25 members and will be composed of stakeholders representing a diverse range of water interests. The RBCs will be responsible for developing a River Basin Plan over the 50-year planning horizon according to the process outlined in the Planning Framework.
The Edisto River basin was selected as the first basin for applying the river basin planning process outlined in the Planning Framework. The Edisto RBC was appointed in 2020, and a final River Basin Plan is scheduled for release in early 2023. RBCs for the Broad and Pee Dee basins were appointed in 2022, and planning activities in those basins are ongoing. Planning activities for the Saluda basin began in fall 2022, with formal RBC meetings beginning early next year. Over the next several years, the process for completing River Basin Plans in the other four planning basins will be initiated depending on available funding. Once the eight River Basin Plans are complete, the new State Water Plan will be prepared by SCDNR using the eight plans as a foundation. The new State Water Plan will include an overview of each River Basin Plan and will summarize and prioritize water policy, regulatory and legislative recommendations presented in the eight plans.
Frequently asked questions about the new State Water Planning Framework and River Basin Planning Activities can be found here.