Surface Water Assessment Process

One of the most important tools for water resource managers, regulators and planners to effectively evaluate water resources is the surface water model. In South Carolina, surface water models have not yet been developed for most of the state. SC DNR, in cooperation with SC DHEC, has begun implementing the first “whole system,” basin-wide surface water availability assessment with consultant, CDM Smith. Each surface water model will be an individual basin assessment, though accounting for interbasin transfers, withdrawals and discharges. This data collection, model development, calibration and stakeholder engagement process was occurring from 2014 through 2016. Stakeholder engagement is critical to this process, as the models will be available for regulators, utilities and others, with training to be made available at the conclusion of this effort.

Simplified Water Allocation Model process as described above


It’s not very helpful to operate on a budget if you have not recently looked at your paycheck, right? Similarly, how can an agency ensure that plentiful water supplies exist for consumption, agriculture, hydroelectric power, recreation and more without a comprehensive understanding of water use and supply? In follow up to the SC State Water Assessment of 2009, DNR will seek to provide information and updates including: the characteristics and conditions of SC that drive water resources, their quality and availability; the consumptive and non-consumptive uses of water in each major river basin of SC; aquifer reserves, recovery programs and considerations; laws and jurisdictions related to water usage, including those with interstate considerations. The assessment is the first phase in water resources planning and policy. Following this Assessment and its publication, a Water Plan can then be developed and is Phase II.


The South Carolina Water Resources Planning and Coordination Act, 49-3-10, et. seq. ( outlines the regulatory functions of the SC Department of Natural Resources and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control regarding water resources policy and planning. Through this Act:

  • SC DNR ( must advise and assist the Governor and the General Assembly in formulating and establishing a comprehensive water resources policy for SC, including coordination of policies and activities among the state departments and agencies. SC DNR is charged in developing a State Water Plan Assessment and State Water Plan.

  • SC DHEC ( holds the regulatory function of water resources management through this Act.

  • CDM Smith ( was hired in 2014 to conduct hydromodeling of surface waters in SC’s eight major river basins.

  • Clemson Public Service and Agriculture ( was hired in 2015 to assist these agencies and their consultant in the implementation of a stakeholder engagement process that establishes an open dialogue of water use, current and future needs, and the water assessment process.


Stakeholder Engagement Process as detailed below

Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture staff are working with both state agencies to engage stakeholders in the process of assessing the state’s water resources. The Stakeholder Engagement Team (SET) will seek to use different tools, resources and engagement strategies to most cost-effectively and expeditiously reach out to all those interested in this assessment study. Two in-person meetings will be held in each of the eight major river basins, with the intent of gathering feedback in the initial stages of surface water model development and showcasing model results at the time that agencies and consultants see the model near completion, but not finalized (see above image by CDM Smith). As needed throughout this process, webinars or video updates will be disseminated through this website.