State navigable waters means those waters which are now navigable, or have been navigable at any time, or are capable of being rendered navigable by the removal of accidental obstructions, by rafts of lumber or timber or by small pleasure or sport fishing boats. Navigability shall be determined by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). All navigable waters of South Carolina are considered as public trust properties either by virtue of State ownership of the streambed or by navigational servitude or both. The State of South Carolina is the custodian of these lands and/or waters, and it is within the interest of the State to protect the public interest in which these lands are held. The Construction in Navigable Waters Permit program is designed to insure that the varied interests and uses of South Carolina navigable waters by the general public are fully considered by a comprehensive review of proposed activities subject to this authority.
Pursuant to State Regulation 19-450, Permits for Construction in Navigable Waters, a permit is required from DHEC for any construction, dredging, filling or alteration activity in, over or under South Carolina Navigable Waters when such activity involves the use of areas below the mean high water line in tidally affected waters or any area below the ordinary high water mark of any nontidal navigable waterway within the State. This permit requirement excludes any tidal area under the direct permitting jurisdiction of DHEC's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resources Management. A DHEC Construction in Navigable Waters Permit may be required even when a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit is not required.
In some cases, wastewater construction activities encroach upon state-defined navigable waters. In those cases, a navigable waters permit must be issued. Typically, though, the navigable waters review is incorporated into the permit process for constructing wastewater facilities (e.g., sewer lines). In this way, the process is streamlined, although the technical issues are dealt with equally. DHEC's staff reviewing the wastewater construction permit application will coordinate internally to insure the navigable waters review is completed.