Water Quality Testing & Fish Health
Flood waters that have entered your pond are likely turbid (high in suspended sediment, can look cloudy) and polluted by contaminated runoff from the landscape (trash, bacteria, auto fluids and heavy metals, excess fertilizers and nutrients, and other hazardous materials). Water quality testing through certified wet laboratories and test kits can inform you if your pond water is safe for contact as well as for fish productivity. Untreated pond or stream water are never safe for drinking water.
The following standards and discussion relate primarily to recreational or fish ponds, which serve a different purpose than an engineered stormwater pond, which is designed for flood storage and water quality treatment.
Structural Integrity Questions
**If you believe your dam will fail or that there are public safety risks, please call 911.**
When examining your dam for potential failure, look for cracks and seeping, as well as if water is discharging around the pipe versus through the pipe. DHEC can be contacted with concerns with your dam at 1-866-246-0133.
It is recommended to safely and slowly lower water levels. Too quick of a release of volume accumulated from flooding, could put increased pressure on your dam.
Reconstruction Considerations & Resources
Especially given the dozens of dam failures across the state following the flood of 2015 and hurricane Matthew in 2016, it is important for emergency management for agencies to know where ponds and risks of failures exist. If you are considering reconstruction of an unpermitted pond, you are required to seek a permit if your pond's embankment or dam meets any of the following conditions:
Or if failure would lead to significant loss of property or potentially loss of life.
Information for repairing/altering existing dams that exceed the 25 ft/50 acre-feet exemptions: https://www.scdhec.gov/Environment/WaterQuality/DamsReservoirs/ProcessDescription/.
Application for permits for new dams or repairing existing dams regulated under Dams and Reservoir Safety Act (SC DHEC): https://www.scdhec.gov/Library/d-2602.pdf.
Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act: https://www.scdhec.gov/Agency/docs/water-regs/r72-1.pdf.
“Ponds – Planning, Design, Construction” handbook from USDA (1997) provides excellent guidance on pond designs if you are considering reconstruction. It can be downloaded at https://www.extension.org/mediawiki/files/3/3c/ponds.pdf. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service offers financial assistance for agricultural producers to build or re-build water management structures, including ponds. Information should be sought out online at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/programs/?cid=stelprdb1048817 or by contacting your local NRCS office.