Groundwater Withdrawals Overview
Since the 1960s, South Carolina has had laws relating to groundwater use. In the South Carolina Groundwater Use and Reporting Act, "(t)he General Assembly declares that the general welfare and public interest require that the groundwater resources of the State be put to beneficial use to the fullest extent to which they are capable, subject to reasonable regulation, in order to conserve and protect these resources, prevent waste, and to provide and maintain conditions which are conducive to the development and use of water resources." S.C. Code Ann. § 49-5-20 (2000). Groundwater users who are in designated Capacity Use Areas of the Coastal Plain are required to request a permit to construct and/or operate any well which will use over 3 million gallons in any one month. Permits for usage are subject to review and renewal every 5 years.
3 million gallons in one month is equivalent to approximately 1 inch of irrigation per week for 28 acres or the average use for 1000 people.
Additionally, users outside of designated Capacity Use Areas must register wells or well systems using over 3 million gallons per month. Statewide, all registered and permitted groundwater withdrawers are to report their annual water use to the department.
Each permit or permit application must comply with the construction, operation, and special conditions as set forth in R.61-113, Groundwater Use and Reporting Regulations.
Guidance Document and Reports
- Capacity Use Program Permitting (PDF) - A guide for permitting groundwater withdrawal in designated Capacity Use Areas.
Each year, the Department publishes a summary of reported water use data from all permitted and registered facilities across the state. The reports present data for both surface and groundwater use. The Department has recorded reported water use since 2000. Linked are the most recently published Water Use Reports. For earlier reports, contact Lacie Pichler at (803) 898-3575.