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September 16, 2008

'Extreme' drought status continues for nine Upstate counties

Drought Map for September 16, 2008 map by DNR Technology Development Program

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources convened the S.C. Drought Response Committee on September 16, 2008 in Greenville and nine Upstate counties remain in extreme drought.  Ten counties were downgraded or maintained at severe and three remain at moderate status. Thirteen counties were downgraded to incipient status.  Recent rains prompted the Drought Response Committee to remove the drought declaration for nine counties: Marion, Dillon, Marlboro, Florence, Horry, Williamsburg, Berkeley, Dorchester and Colleton. The drought declaration was removed for Georgetown and Charleston during the August meeting. 

The counties remaining in the extreme category are: Oconee, Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson, Abbeville, Laurens, Greenwood and McCormick counties.

For more information about drought visit the Office of State Climatology drought Website or contact State Climatologist Hope Mizzell in Columbia at (803) 734-9568 or email at mizzellh@dnr.sc.gov for more information.

David Tompkins with the S.C. Department of Agriculture reported, "The impact of the drought on agriculture continues for parts of the state with significant concern over hay availability for our cattle industry."

The S.C. Forestry Commission cited a 9.55% increase in wildfires for July/August and a 66.4% increase in the number of acres burned compared to the five-year average. The Commission expects to have an active fall fire season.

Stan Simpson, US Army Corps of Engineers, provided a review of the Corps’ operation of the Savannah River lakes in response to the drought explaining that Lakes Hartwell and Thurmond is expected to reach new record lows over the next 10 weeks.

Andy Wachob, DNR Hydrologist, reported all lakes around the state are below their target level except Lake Murray. He noted Jocassee, Hartwell and Thurmond lakes were the hardest hit by drought. He also spoke about the steady decline in most Upstate groundwater wells with a well in Spartanburg at a record low and a well in Oconee County near record low.

According to Mizzell, "We are entering the driest months climatologically, October-November, and without rainfall from tropical systems, rainfall amounts during these months can be very low."

Steve de Kozlowski, S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Land, Water, and Conservation Division Interim Deputy Director, stated, "Upstate water systems can ensure they maintain adequate supplies through rigorous conservation efforts."

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.


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