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DHEC orders owners of 63 dams to lower levels of lakes, ponds

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Staff Reports
Published Oct. 19, 2015

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has ordered the water level of 63 lakes and ponds lowered and repairs made to private dams.

The order, which includes 28 dams in Richland County and four in Lexington County, was issued late Friday in the wake of disastrous floods spawned by historic rainfall over the weekend of Oct. 3-4. Across the state, 36 dams failed.

"As a result of the 1,000-year flood, many dams across our state were damaged and have been identified as needing repair," DHEC Director Catherine Heigel said. "DHEC remains committed to ensuring public safety and will be aggressive in pursuing all necessary safety measures to make sure that dam owners are making these needed repairs as quickly as possible."

As of Friday, 390 dams have been assessed. Based on initial assessments, the agency said it has issued emergency orders to 63 dams.

The emergency orders are part of DHEC's ongoing assessment of all Class One and Class Two dams across the state.

DHEC said there is “no immediate threat to public safety at this time.”

Under the S.C. Dams and Reservoirs Safety Regulations, an emergency order may direct the dam owner to:

  • lower the water level by releasing water from the reservoir;
  • completely empty the reservoir;
  • take whatever immediate measures necessary to reduce the risk of dam failure.

DHEC noted that am owners are responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of their dams. The owner's decision to repair or replace a dam will be subject to DHEC review and approval. DHEC will prioritize review of dam permit applications associated with this natural disaster.

The permitting for these repairs could take days to weeks depending upon the complexity of the repairs that need to be made, DHEC said.

For more information about the dams covered in the DHEC order, click here.

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