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October 16, 2015

DHEC Issues Orders to Ensure Dam Safety Following 1,000-Year Flood

COLUMBIA, S.C. - Following the recent historic rain and flooding event, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced today that it is ordering actions at a number of dams statewide.

"As a result of the 1,000-year flood, many dams across our state were damaged and have been identified as needing repair," said DHEC Director Catherine Heigel. "DHEC remains committed to ensuring public safety and will be aggressive in pursuing all necessary safety measures to make sure that dam owners are making these needed repairs as quickly as possible."

As the state's regulatory agency, DHEC's role is to provide input and assistance to dam owners and operators and to advise on regulatory compliance. Dam owners are responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of their dams.

The emergency orders are part of DHEC's ongoing proactive assessment of all Class One and Class Two dams across the state in the wake of the historic rains and flooding, which damaged some dams and caused 36 to fail. There is no immediate threat to public safety at this time.

As of today, 390 dams have been assessed. Based on these initial assessments, the agency has issued emergency orders to 63 dams.

Under the S.C. Dams and Reservoirs Safety Regulations, an emergency order may direct the dam owner to:

  • lower the water level by releasing water from the reservoir;
  • completely empty the reservoir;
  • take whatever immediate measures necessary to reduce the risk of dam failure.

The owner's decision to repair or replace a dam will be subject to DHEC review and approval. DHEC will prioritize review of dam permit applications associated with this natural disaster. The permitting for these repairs could take days to weeks depending upon the complexity of the repairs that need to be made.

For detailed information concerning the orders and which dams are involved, click here.


Jennifer Read
Chief Communications Officer
(803) 898-1259