The Groundwater Protection Program is part of the Division of Monitoring, Assessment, and Protection in the Bureau of Water.
The program is responsible for groundwater monitoring, risk assessment, and protection for wastewater, sludge, manure, and the nutrient management associated with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, No Discharge Land Application (ND) permits, and Agricultural Animal Facility (ND) permits, for the treatment of domestic, industrial, and agricultural waste.
This program reviews the following on behalf of the Wastewater Permitting and Agricultural permitting sections:
- Permit applications
- Monitoring well applications
- Groundwater monitoring plans and reports
- Nutrient management plans
We are continuously improving how we disseminate monitoring data and program knowledge, understand new risks associated with emergent contaminants, engage external experts , contribute to the relevant scientific knowledge base, and serve the citizens of South Carolina best.
Laws and Regulations
SC DHEC is mandated by law to proactively maintain the quality of surface and groundwater per the South Carolina Code of Laws: Pollution Control Act
It is the goal of the Department to maintain or restore groundwater quality in the state of South Carolina so it is suitable as a drinking water source without any treatment as outlined in R.61-68 Water Classifications and Standards. All South Carolina groundwater is classified Class GB, effective June 28, 1985 (i.e., less than Maximum Contaminant Levels as set forth in SC DHEC State Primary Drinking Water Regulations, R.61-58)
It is unlawful for any person, directly or indirectly, to throw, drain, run, allow to seep, or otherwise discharge into the environment any organic or inorganic matter, including sewage, industrial wastes, and other wastes, except as in compliance with a permit issued by the Department. NPDES and ND permits are issued by the Water Pollution Control Division. Facilities to be constructed require both a construction permit (R. 61-67) and as operational permit. Permits for discharges into surface waters are issued by the NPDES Program as outlined in R.61-9 Water Pollution Control Permits. Permits to apply wastewater effluent or sludge to land are issued by the Land Application Program (No Discharge Program) as outlined in R.61-9 503-505.
Permits for Land Application of animal manure are issued by the Agricultural Permitting Program as outlined in R.61-43 Standards for the Permitting of Agricultural Animal Facilities.
All the permitting regulations listed above include requirements for groundwater monitoring.
Proper closure of wastewater treatment facilities is required when facilities are no longer in use. R.61-82 describes procedures which may be required to prevent creating a source of pollution when facilities cease operation. Facilities where pollution is present and closure is necessary, may require post closure monitoring, which could include groundwater monitoring.
All groundwater monitoring wells require Departmental approval prior to installation or abandonment. The application and installation procedures are outlined in R.61-71 Well Standards (Section H. Monitoring Wells). The following form is required for monitoring wells in South Carolina: Form D-3736 Monitoring Well Application. All applications are to be submitted via the ePermitting online portal.
Land Application and Nutrient Management Plans (NMP)
Land Application is the applying of organic waste materials (sludge, wastewater, or manure) to the land surface for the purpose of amending the soil in order to provide nutrients for a planted crop. Land Application is a valuable, yet complex, endeavor requiring strategic planning to prevent potential harm to the environment and public health.
Recognizing the technical and economic difficulty in restoring groundwater quality, the Groundwater Protection Program emphasizes a preventative approach in protecting all groundwaters of the state. Approval decisions for land application are based on the site suitability, crop management plan feasibility, and application rate calculations, which together are known as a Nutrient Management Plan (NMP).
Facilities adopting low-risk land application practices may be afforded flexibility and economy in monitoring with minimal Departmental oversight.
Information requirements will vary, all sites will be assessed by project managers beginning with the submission of the Potential to Impact Groundwater Evaluation:
Monitoring and Reporting
Facilities which are not fully evaluated or deemed high-risk will require a robust monitoring plan which may include monitoring the groundwater, soils, plant tissue, organic waste material, and surface waters. Monitoring and reporting requirements are stated in permit language and vary in frequency and scope based on identified risks and management practices.
All Groundwater Monitoring Reports (GMR) due after August 1st, 2021 should be submitted by uploading an Electronic Data Deliverable (EDD) formatted spreadsheet (*.xls) via the ePermitting schedule function. The formatted spreadsheets will be distributed by the GPP on behalf the Wastewater Facilities Permitting Section.
If you have not received your EDD GMR Template, email GMRSubmissions@dhec.sc.gov to formally request one.
Annual reports summarizing application practices, monitoring results, and recommended changes to the NMP will be required. Annual reporting requirements are in the permit language, an example of potential requirements can be found in section 8 of the guidance document.
Kelly Whitlock, Section Manager, (803) 898-3574
Chris Forrest, Hydrogeologist, (803) 898-4252
Dustin Leypoldt, Hydrogeologist, (803) 898-4312
Carolyn Moores, Hydrogeologist, (803) 898-3799