Friday, July 17, 2015
The S.C. Drought Response Committee, meeting via conference call on July 16, has upgraded the drought status of the entire state, according to a press release by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
Previously, on June 19, the committee had designated 28 counties to the first level of drought. Those counties are now in the second or moderate stage of drought.
The counties upgraded to the moderate stage of drought include Berkeley, Aiken, Allendale, Barnwell, Bamberg, Calhoun, Charleston, Chester, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Darlington, Dillon, Dorchester, Fairfield, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Orangeburg, Sumter, Williamsburg and York. All other counties in South Carolina are now in the first level of drought or incipient.
The purpose of the moderate declaration is to increase awareness that drought conditions are intensifying. Water systems are asked to review their Drought Response Plans and Ordinances and implement as needed.
“It’s clear that drought is affecting folks all across the state. Irrigation has helped provide moisture to some crops, but it doesn’t replace a good soaking rain,” said S.C. Department of Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers. “This summer’s weather furthers illustrates the partnership that farmers have with Mother Nature. The short-term forecast isn’t optimistic, but we’ll continue to pray for relief from the heat and drought.”
Below normal rainfall over the past several months means streamflow levels have dropped considerably and are “well below normal” for this time of year, according to DNR hydrologist Scott Harder. Harder said that the state’s major reservoirs are below target levels.
Drought Response Committee Chairman Ken Rentiers said the committee will continue to monitor the situation closely and if conditions deteriorate the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will reconvene the committee as needed.