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Dams and Reservoir - Summary of Laws and Regulations

Summary of  the SC Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act

The SC Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act is the basis of South Carolina’s dams and reservoirs safety programs. The purpose of the act is protect citizens health, safety, and welfare by creating a regulatory program to reduce the risk of failure of dams. The law confers upon the Department the regulatory authority to accomplish the purposes of the act. This includes the power to promulgate regulations, require permits, conduct inspections and take enforcement actions among other things.

Section 49-11-190 of the act allows the Department to issue emergency orders as may be necessary from time to time to protect life and property. This section also allows the Department to enter on private property to take immediate actions necessary to protect life and property when the owner of a dam does not comply with an emergency order.

Section 49-11-200 of the act requires a permit from the Department before a new dam may be constructed or before the alteration, repair, or removal of an existing dam.

Section 49-11-230 grants authority to the Department to conduct inspections while Section 49-11-240 allows the Department entry on property to carry out the general provisions of the program.

In summary, this act empowers the Department to conduct the dams and reservoirs safety program through a wide range of activities such as permitting, inspections, compliance, monitoring, enforcement and public education. To meet the requirements of the act, the Department regulates a large number of dams.


Summary of Regulation 72-1: Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act Regulations

The regulations were initially approved in 1977 and they were most recently amended in July of 1997. The regulations for the most part mirror the requirements of the SC Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act. The regulations create a tiered permitting program based on a classification system of dams. Dams regulated by the Department are classified based on size and hazards. The size classifications are large, intermediate, small, and very small. Hazard classifications are high hazard, significant hazard, and low hazard.

These regulations specify the administrative process for obtaining a permit for either a new dam or the alteration, repair, or removal of an existing dam. The items required to be submitted to the Department as part of the permit application package are also given in the regulations as well as some general design criteria a dam must meet.


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