DHEC Launches S.C. Watershed Atlas to Enhance Planning and Collaboration

Healthy watersheds are vital to healthy communities and create a web of connections between human activities, water quality and sustainable health and livelihoods. Water connects everyone, which is why it is important for communities to have an understanding of watersheds and access to data that can inform decisions.

To help advance watershed planning and understanding, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has release the new S. C. Watershed Atlas – an interactive online map that provides a searchable, customizable view of watershed data across the state.

The application includes more than 90 data layers representing the agency’s water program, including: permits, advisories, dams, floodplains, Municipal Separate Storm Sewers, National Wetland Inventory, Public Water Supply, water quality assessments, watershed boundaries, and more.

floodplain 2

Floodplain data layer shown in pink shaded areas.

National Wetland Invetntory view crop

National Wetland Inventory data displayed in grey on the Atlas.

natural swimming areas and marinas

A few of the water permit data layers include natural swimming areas and marinas.

Other key features:

  • A selection of base maps, including Google 360o Street View
  • Measuring and drawing tools
  • Custom map making and printing capabilities
  • Search and help features

“This innovative, interactive map makes it easier for users to find a variety of watershed information, and see it in a spatial context that makes it more relevant to them and their community,” said DHEC Bureau of Water Interim Chief David Baize. “This new way of looking at watershed data can provide some really practical solutions to both scientific and everyday questions. It is an excellent tool for anyone involved in effective watershed planning and collaboration.”

The new tool has already proven to be instrumental in providing critical data to the agency and the public when it was used to locate and view dams across the state during the historic flooding of 2015. Using the Watershed Atlas, DHEC staff were able to quickly map and view satellite imagery of any permitted dam in the state and provide important information and perspective for concerned citizens.

dam view screenshot watershed atlas

Map of  state-regulated dams. Icons are in red, green or blue to indicate classification level.

The Watershed Atlas is designed to provide enhanced access to timely information from DHEC’s water programs in a user-friendly GIS (geographic information system)  format.  It is regularly updated as new data becomes available, replacing the hard-copy watershed assessment reports that had previously been produced every five years.

The Watershed Atlas is part of DHEC’s growing inventory of GIS applications such as MarinaMate, Beach Guide, and Environmental and Public Health Tracking.

To access DHEC’s S.C. Watershed Atlas online, visit www.scdhec.gov/watershed/.

By Bryony Wardell

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