Bill would protect vital water resources
State Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill, has reintroduced a water withdrawal permitting bill (S.275) that will give the state much needed oversight of large withdrawals of water from the public's rivers and streams. Hayes' bill will protect the interests of existing business and industry by guaranteeing a permit for current withdrawals; provide a measure of certainty to prospective businesses by ensuring a reliable water supply; promote healthy rivers and streams by using the state's guidelines for minimum flows that reflect the variability necessary to protect ecosystems and the public's right to clean, abundant water. Hayes' first attempt to pass this legislation was thwarted last session by special interests who worked to obtain more than their fair share of our state's water resources.
Twelve other senators signed on as co-sponsors of this critical legislation. The power utilities are already applying pressure on the Senate to give them more of the public's share of the state's water resources. We need to make sure these senators know that we appreciate their leadership on this critical issue: Hayes, Sheheen, Courson, Leventis, Anderson, Rankin, Grooms, Lourie, Mulvaney, Bryant, Davis and Coleman.
South Carolina has no oversight of major withdrawals from our rivers and streams. Allocating the use of water in our state through withdrawal permits is the first step to being responsible stewards of the publics water resources. Since two-thirds of our rivers have their headwaters out of state, a "Fair Share" water allocation bill will enable South Carolina to protect downstream users, negotiate with neighboring states over shared water supplies and confront long-term climate impacts.
This bill is necessary to protect ecosystems and the public's right to clean, abundant water. It requires a permit for all withdrawals of 3 million gallons or more a month. Existing withdrawers are grandfathered in, receiving a permit for current withdrawal levels. This bill provides a measure of certainty to prospective businesses by ensuring a reliable water supply and ensures that everybody receives their fair share of this free, public resource.
Gina Hartmeier, MD