York County and four other counties in South Carolina are no longer in drought.
The South Carolina Drought Response Committee on Aug. 11 removed the drought declaration for Aiken, Cherokee, Greenville, Spartanburg and York counties. The group reviews agricultural and forest fire conditions, as well as water levels in the rivers, lakes and groundwater.
According to dnr.sc.gov, the last time York County was not declared under any level of drought status by the committee was October 2015.
However, spotty summer rainfall has not been enough to eliminate the drought statewide.
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Abbeville, Barnwell, Chester, Edgefield, Fairfield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry, Saluda and Union counties remain in incipient drought status, which is the first stage. Two counties, Anderson and Oconee, were upgraded to incipient drought.
York County was placed on incipient status in June, after having been in moderate status since October 2016. York County has been listed in some level of drought status since July 2016.
“We have some drought conditions in the western Piedmont areas of the state, but overall, the majority of the state is in great shape as far as rainfall,” said Brad Boozer, director of State Farmers Markets, S.C. Department of Agriculture.
“Corn, soybeans and peanuts may produce some of the highest yields that we have seen in the last 10 to 15 years if the weather holds out. Cotton crop looks great also,” Boozer said.
During the last 30 days, there have been reports of 6 to 10 inches of rain, and 60 days back, rainfall ranged from 13 to 17 inches.
“I am excited to hear farmers and agencies report that several of our communities are receiving rains at or above normal levels,” said Jimmy Bagley, deputy city manager for the city of Rock Hill. “Greenville, Spartanburg, Cherokee and York all appear to be out of drought at this time. We are still monitoring Fairfield, Greenwood, Laurens, Newberry, Saluda and Union as they remain in incipient drought.”
Hydrologic conditions have improved in the upper Saluda, Broad and Catawba basins, which supported the removal of the incipient status for counties in those areas, said Scott Harder, SC DNR hydrologist.
However, below-normal groundwater levels and streamflow levels in portions of the middle Savannah Basin and in the central regions of the Saluda, Broad and Catawba basins supported keeping counties in these regions in an incipient status.
There was consensus among committee members the majority of the Pee Dee region should remain out of drought.
Theron DeWitt, commissioner for the Darlington Soil and Water Conservation District, said: “There has been adequate rainfall throughout the region. In some areas rain is actually holding up harvest.”