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2015 S.C. Flood Dam Response and Recovery

Dam Reports

To further inform the public, the agency has made available dam inspection reports for confirmed failed dams during the October 2015 flood event, final inspection reports for all Class 1, 2 and 3 dams statewide, and additional reports of interest to community stakeholders.

Additional Information

In response to October 2015’s historic rainfall and flooding, S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) staff has worked diligently throughout the past year to assess the impact on dams across the state. During and immediately after the 2015 flood, 150 DHEC staff worked around the clock for more than 6,500 work-hours on emergency response, data tracking and conducting emergency inspections of dams.

Immediate Disaster Response

Our team partnered with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Homeland Security, South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) and HDR Engineering as part of our response to the 1,000-year rainfall and statewide assessment of all high- and significant-hazard dams and some low-hazard dams. Following the historic flood event, DHEC:  

  • Assessed all 652 dams high- and significant-hazard dams statewide and identified some low-hazard dams.
  • Confirmed 51 regulated dams breached / failed during the flood event.
  • Issued Emergency Orders covering 75 dams.
  • Sent a Notice of Violation to owners of 29 dams who did not provide documentation of their required action items by the deadline within a month of issuance of the Emergency Orders.
  • Identified 192 additional dams as being in need of inspection and potentially requiring non-emergent maintenance or repairs.
  • Partnered with HDR Engineering to conduct a complete review of the agency's Dam Safety Program.
  • Contracted with HDR Engineering to conduct an engineering review and assessment of the Gills Creek Watershed in Richland County and Twelve Mile Creek Watershed in Lexington County.

Ongoing Recovery Efforts

Currently, our staff continues to assist dam owners to ensure that dams are safe. We are working with many dam owners and their engineers on a plan of action for repairing or removing affected dams.  As part of our state’s ongoing recovery effort, DHEC has:

  • Received 72 permit applications from dam owners to repair or rebuild their structures that were damaged during October’s historic flooding event.
  • Issued 36 permits to repair dams that were damaged due to the October 2015 flood and one permit to remove a dam. This action includes permits issued pursuant to emergency orders or other DHEC directives, such as the inspection and maintenance letters issued in November 2015.
  • Hosted a forum for dam owners on March 12, 2016, to help connect dam owners to information and people who can help them move toward recovery.
  • Continued to work with dam owners to provide technical assistance so that they can make final decisions on the future of their dams and implement the repairs.
  • Continued to work collaboratively with the S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) to share information and provide technical assistance related to roads impacted by both regulated and unregulated dams.

In addition, the agency continues to evaluate the responses to the emergency orders issued after the flood and is conducting follow-up site visits to assess if appropriate actions are being taken. Our overall goal is to ensure dams are put in a safe condition to protect life and property. In instances where the owners have not complied with department requests for action, the dams have been referred for inspection and possible enforcement pursuant to provisions in the Dams & Reservoir Safety Act and Regulations. 

Repairs

State regulation allows owners to make the decision whether to repair or remove damaged dams, regardless of the percentage of the structure that may be damaged. If an owner decides to repair or remove a dam, he/she must follow state requirements including filing a permit application for DHEC to review and approve. We are currently working with dam owners to provide technical assistance so that they can make final decisions on the future of their dams and implement the repairs.

The Dam Safety Program has issued 37 permits since October 2015. This action includes permits issued pursuant to Emergency Orders or other DHEC directives, such as the maintenance and inspection letters issued in November. 

Dam Reclassification

DHEC staff is continuing to evaluate dams for possible reclassification. The evaluation process for regulating a dam includes researching property records to determine the owner, conducting field surveys and taking other measurements to assess if the dam meets the height and/or volume thresholds for regulation, and reviewing the regulatory exemptions and inundation mapping to assess the hazard potential of the dam. Since the October 2015 flood, the following dams have been reclassified, added to the inventory or determined to be exempt from the regulation as of Sept. 23, 2016:

  • McGee Pond Dam (D 3103) in Anderson County was reclassified from low to high hazard on Aug. 30, 2016.
  • Glenn Pond Dam #2 (D 3108) in Anderson County was reclassified from low to high hazard on Sept. 2, 2016.
  • Glenn Pond Dam #1 (D 3109) in Anderson County was reclassified from low to high hazard on Sept. 2, 2016.
  • Von Hollen Pond Dam (D 3138) in Anderson County was reclassified from low to high hazard on Sept. 2, 2016.
  • G. Stevens Pond Dam (D 3147) in Anderson County was reclassified from low to high hazard on Sept. 6, 2016.
  • Seaton Acres Pond Dam (D 3153) in Anderson County was reclassified from low hazard to high hazard on Sept. 6, 2016.
  • SCNONAME 09031 (D 2645) in Calhoun County was exempted from the inventory on Sept. 13, 2016.
  • SCNONAME 09040 (D 2921) in Calhoun County was exempted from the inventory on Sept. 15, 2016.
  • Elliot Millpond Dam (D 3495) in Clarendon County was exempted from the inventory on June 15, 2016.
  • SCNONAME 32105 (D 1042) in Lexington County was exempted from the inventory on June 7, 2016.
  • North Springs Lake Dam (D 0550) in Richland County was reclassified from low hazard to high hazard on June 14, 2016.
  • Kennedy Dam (D 4901) in Richland County was added to the inventory and assigned a significant hazard classification on Feb. 10, 2016.
  • Pine Tree Dam (D 4905) in Richland County was added to the inventory and assigned a high hazard classification on Aug. 11, 2016.
  • Cleveland Park Dam (D 3352) in Spartanburg County was reclassified from significant to high hazard on March 24, 2016.
  • Black Crest Pond Dam (D 2063) in Sumter County was exempted from the inventory on April 28, 2016.

Roads

As a result of the 2015 historic flood, there were road closures on 23 regulated dams. As of as of Sept. 23, 2016, roads were closed due to 11 failed or damaged regulated dams.

They are:

  • Cypress Lake Dam (D 3484) in Clarendon County
  • O. E. Rose Dam (D 3487) in Clarendon County
  • Crout Pond Dam (D 0945) in Lexington County
  • Lake Elizabeth Dam (D 0024) in Richland County
  • Spring Lake Dam (D 0025) in Richland County
  • Cary's Lake Dam (D 0026) in Richland County
  • Rocky Ford Lake Dam (D 0028) in Richland County
  • North Lake Dam (D 0029) in Richland County
  • Arcadia Woods Lake Dam (D 0557) in Richland County
  • Lake Trotwood Dam (D 0582) in Richland County
  • Weston Pond Dam (D 0593) in Richland County

DHEC is continuing to work collaboratively with the SCDOT to share information and provide technical assistance related to roads impacted by both regulated and unregulated dams. We are working with dam owners to provide technical assistance so that they can make final decisions on the future of their dams and implement the repairs.

Our Program Today

We are working to take what we’ve learned from the 1,000-year storm event to make the program stronger. During the past year, DHEC has taken the following measures to strengthen response preparation and create a more robust Dam Safety Program: 

  • As of September 2016 additional resources from the S.C. General Assembly will expand the Dam Safety Program to approximately 14 full-time staff members—almost doubling the program size.
  • Collaborated with Emergency Communications Network to initiate their CodeRED system to allow automated notification to dam owners via voice call, text messages and email in preparation for the potential significant rainfall. This system was used during response to Hurricane Hermine in September 2016.
  • Established a coalition of dam owners, engineers, and other stakeholders with interest in dam safety to provide a forum to discuss the impact of the Dam Safety Program on the regulated community.
  • Held "Dams After the Flood: Regulations, Responsibilities and Recovery" an event designed to connect dam owners to information and people who can help them move toward recovery.
  • Presented to numerous groups, including SCEMD, FEMA, South Carolina Watershed Districts, American Society of Civil Engineers, OSHA’s Mine Safety and Health Administration, and others on the impact of October’s storm on dams in the state. Most recently, DHEC presented on the agency’s response to the flood and lessons learned at “Dam Safety 2016” in Philadelphia. This annual conference, hosted by the Association of State Dam Safety Officials, is one of the leading conferences in the United States on dam and levee safety engineering and incident management.
  • Partnered with CDM Smith to provide long-term engineering support to the Dam Safety Program, including the development of owner/operator training and the review of engineering plans.  

Next Steps

The process of rebuilding and repairing affected dams will be ongoing as our experts work with each dam's unique situation. Throughout the next months, we will be hiring and training new engineers, issuing repair permits and conducting inspections, reclassifying regulated dams, fine-tuning standard operating procedures and refining GIS tools to monitor rainfall and its impact on dams.