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Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program Overview

The Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program was established in 1977 with the passage of the S.C. Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act. The failure of the dam upstream of the Toccoa Falls Bible College in Georgia right after passage of the South Carolina Act gave a great deal of impetus to getting the program started. This dam failed unexpectedly and caused the loss of many lives and a great deal of property damage.

Dams regulated under this law are classified based on both their hazard potential as either high hazard, significant hazard, or low hazard and their size as either large, intermediate, small or very small.

State law and regulation require submission of plans and specifications and a written permit before a dam regulated under this program may be built, altered, or removed. Dams which are either 25 feet or more in height or impound (hold back) 50 acre feet or more are regulated by DHEC unless exempted by state law.

The Industrial, Agricultural, and Storm Water Permitting Division of the Bureau of Water is responsible for administering the Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program. Since 1977 numerous permits have been issued to construct, alter, repair, or remove dams in S.C. This division also conducts construction inspections and final inspections to ensure all work is performed according to the approved plans and specifications. Before a regulated dam or reservoir can be placed into operation, a written authorization to begin operations must be granted by the division.

The EQC Regional Offices are responsible for routine inspections and classification checks on dams. Routine inspections are performed on high hazard and significant hazard dams, and classification checks are done for low hazard dams by checking the area below the dams. Enforcement actions are used by the Bureau when necessary to ensure permits are obtained when required and to ensure compliance with permits. Bureau and Regional Office staff are available to give talks and presentations on the different aspects of the Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program. Please send us an email if you are interested in arranging a presentation for a group or class.


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