We promote and protect the health of the public and the environment.
Water is important to everyone and every living thing on the earth.
We use water in many of our daily activities and we depend on it to be safe for drinking.
That's why the SC Dept. of Health and Environmental Control's Bureau of Water sets water quality standards to support the many uses of this precious resource.
In an on-going effort to assess the quality of SC's rivers, lakes and streams, extensive chemical and biological monitoring programs are conducted.
In addition, a variety of permitting programs are implemented to protect and preserve water quality.
And when needed, enforcement actions are initiated for facilities that fail to meet permitting or compliance requirements.
One of the many responsibilities within the Bureau of Water involves the permitting of construction and operation activities associated with the treatment and discharge of wastewater.
It is also required that any discharge to a water body must meet on-going monitoring standards and limits.
These standards and limits work to ensure there will be no adverse effect on the receiving water body.
Through the permitting and inspection of agricultural facilities and construction site locations our staff works to prevent water pollution that could occur from activities association with these facilities.
We also coordinate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in awarding grants to organizations working on preventing polluted runoff water from reaching our waterways.
DHEC's Bureau of Water is also involved with the protection of South Carolina's wetland areas.
In an effort to minimize manmade impacts on wetlands, these areas are evaluated, protected and restored to their full potential.
We are also charged with the important responsibility of ensuring the protection, treatment and distribution of safe drinking water.
Each public drinking water system must go through a permitting process prior to beginning construction or operation.
Once a facility is operating, DHEC staff routinely conducts on‑site inspections and water quality monitoring for each permitted facility.
Additionally, we participate in a Federal loan program that provides low interest rates to drinking water and waste water systems in need of upgrade or expansion.
Home owners utilizing a private well can also receive information concerning the quality of their drinking water supply.
Bureau staff are available to direct individuals on how to have their water tested and can offer technical assistance concerning sample results.
It is important to remember that half of the State's drinking water comes from groundwater sources.
We monitor groundwater quality through a network of underground sample sites located throughout the State, and we evaluate and document a variety of water uses in an effort ensure South Carolina's water resources do not become over used or depleted.
Many of the Bureau's activities are integrated with information that is provided through the watershed management program.
The program divides the state into eight major basins.
Factors such as water quality and potential pollution sources are evaluated and documented for each basin area.
This information can be used when determining permitting limits or in the evaluation a proposed drinking water supply location.
Some of our programs are specific to certain locations of the State. For instance, coastal areas are monitored to protect shellfish harvesting. More than 500 monitoring stations are routinely sampled to reflect the sanitary conditions of coastal shellfish and their growing waters.
The Bureau is also charged with the inspection of public swimming pools. Staff in this program area work to ensure adequate water quality and a safe swimming environment.
Safety is also a primary concern when permitting or inspecting any one of the approximately 2,000 dams located throughout the State of South Carolina.
And finally, through outreach and education initiatives, staff members bring environmental education curricula directly into South Carolina classrooms, while special programs offer local citizens the chance to become actively involved in the protection of their community water resources.
DHEC's Bureau of Water, working to protect water resources throughout the Palmetto State…for our generation and generations to come.