Tag Archives: dams

Today is National Dam Safety Awareness Day

Did you know there are more than 2,300 regulated dams in South Carolina? The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) oversees compliance for state-regulated dams through the Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program.

National Dam Safety Awareness Day encourages individual and community responsibility for dam safety, while promoting the benefits dams offer to communities.

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“As a Dam Safety program inspector, I work with dam owners to ensure dams are safely maintained and identify issues that need to be addressed to prolong the life of the dam and protect downstream life and property.” –Chuck Owens, DHEC Dam Safety Inspector

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Recently, the Dam Safety Program has incorporated the use of drones into their inspection process. Inspectors can utilize DHEC’s FAA certified drone pilots, who are able to fly the devices over those exterior features of the dam which are crucial to its safety and integrity but are not accessible by foot. Drones help keep our inspectors safe while improving their capability to survey dams of all sizes quickly and efficiently.

Dam 4Thank you to DHEC’s Dam Safety Program for your dedicated work on the tools, initiatives, and people that help make dam owners and the state’s dam safety program better prepared to handle significant rainfall and other events that have the potential to impact dams in the state.

Meet Jill Stewart, DHEC Director of Dam Safety and Storm Water Permits.

To learn more about DHEC’s Dams and Reservoirs Safety Program, visit https://www.scdhec.gov/environment/water-quality/dams-and-reservoirs/dams-and-reservoirs-safety-program-overview.

DHEC in the News: Richland County dams, West Nile, Atlantic storm

Here’s a look at health and environmental news from around South Carolina.

Richland County dams show signs of improvement nearly 2 years post flood

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – As the two-(year) anniversary of the devastating October flood creeps near, a lengthy list of damaged and destroyed dams shrinks.

According to South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, six of the 24 dams within the Gills Creek Watershed have been repaired, including the Spring Lake Dam where the road connecting neighbors on each side of the lake was reopened 20 months post-flood.

Mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile Virus still being monitored in Beaufort Co.

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) – The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control says they are still closely monitoring Beaufort County after mosquitoes tested positive for West Nile Virus in late June.

They say while it’s not uncommon for some of their trapped mosquitoes to test positive, they are still taking all of the appropriate steps to make sure local residents are not at risk.

General Interest

Atlantic storm could mean tropical threat for South Carolina

Another bedeviling storm in the far Atlantic Ocean off Africa should turn into a tropical system by the end of the week, U.S. forecasters said Monday. This one is a wait-and-watch for the Southeast coast.

It could become the fourth named storm of the hurricane season.

The National Hurricane Center put the odds at 70 percent that it could become a tropical depression — a storm not as powerful as a tropical storm — within five days.

Dams After The Flood: Regulations, Responsibilities and Recovery

By Bryony Wardell

On March 12, 2016, more than 100 South Carolina dam owners passed up a sunshine-filled day to get together with safety and regulation experts to talk about dams after the flood. Dams After The Flood: Regulations, Responsibilities and Recovery was a community event hosted by S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and its partners to help connect dam owners to information and people who can help them move towards recovery.

As the state’s regulatory agency, DHEC’s role is to provide input and assistance to dam owners and operators and to advise them on regulatory compliance. Dam owners are responsible for maintaining the structural integrity of their dams. The agency doesn’t provide engineering services, but it does provide compliance assistance.

Since the historic flooding of October 2015, many dam owners in South Carolina have been facing unique and lasting challenges. For many, the challenges have been overwhelming – for some, the first time they were even aware they owned a dam was after it was impacted.

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A DHEC staff member helps attendees locate their dam on the new Watershed Atlas.

Network of Knowledge

The event was an important step towards recovery and building capacity for community resilience for future natural disasters. It introduced dam owners to information and people – including each other – who can help create a network of knowledge.

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DHEC Environmental Affairs Director Myra Reece talking with dam owners.

“Response is one thing, but recovery is by far the hardest and longest phase of a disaster. Let’s figure this out together,” said DHEC Director of Environmental Affairs Myra Reece. “This is a kick-off and it’s the start of a collaborative coalition of dam owners, dam safety experts, engineers and other partners who can work together to form pathways to solutions.”

The event included presentations from DHEC’s dam program staff on regulations, safety, inspections, maintenance and damage recovery. Click here to download the presentation. It also included a Q&A session, information booths and one-on-one networking for dam owners with a variety of event partner organizations.

Event partners included
: American Rivers, Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Gills Creek Watershed Association, Natural Resources Conservation Service, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, S.C. Department of Transportation, S.C. Emergency Management Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as consultants and contractors.


Overcoming the Overwhelming

“This needed to be done. It was very helpful. It put people’s minds at ease a bit to know that DHEC is here to listen, to hear our questions, our frustrations, to talk and to work together,” said Donnie Hallman, a dam owner from Gilbert. “It gives us a way to share information and it takes the fear factor out of the situation.”

Event organizers kept the formal presentations brief to allow attendees ample time to visit information booths, ask questions about their unique situations and meet neighbors who own dams up- or downstream in their watershed. Color-coded name badges were provided to help attendees identify fellow dam owners in their watershed and start their own local networks.

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“We want to make sure people have the information and time they need to make important decisions about their dams,” said John Litton, DHEC Dam Program director. “We are going to work with you on the unique problems you each are facing.”

For more information about the event, contact Shelly Wilson at Wilsonmd@dhec.sc.gov or (803) 898-3138 or visit www.scdhec.gov/environment/WaterQuality/DamsReservoirs.