The South Carolina Governor's Water Law Review Committee recommended that the state begin discussions with neighboring states on forming water agreements for upcoming years. Most of South Carolina's rivers are shared with North Carolina and Georgia.
"The governor's office needs to ensure that the existing cooperation between the state agencies participating in this process continues and results in a single, unified state position that protects our quality of life," the report said.
The state's discussions should begin with Georgiawhere there is rapid growth due to the Atlanta area. Georgia shares the Savannah River with South Carolina, and due to growth estimates, an agreement could take years to hammer out.
North Carolina also poses concerns. During the five-year drought's peak in 2002, South Carolina had to broker a deal with North Carolina to ensure enough water was released from upstream dams. The deal enabled drinking water intakes in South Carolina to avoid saltwater contamination and helped industries along the Pee Dee River avoid shutdowns or slowdowns.
"What we do in the next 18 months is going to set the standards for water in this state for the next 50 years," said Freddy Vang, who heads the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' water division.