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April 6, 2017
The South Carolina Drought Response Committee, which is comprised of representatives from multiple state and local agencies, met via conference call on Thursday, April 6 to analyze the drought statuses of counties statewide. While the status of most counties, including Spartanburg County and its neighbors in the upstate, remains unchanged, all ten counties in the northeast part of the state are now classified as in incipient drought. Georgetown County was upgraded to incipient status as well.
“The Pee Dee region has experienced below-normal streamflow conditions over the past several months and supported an upgrade for the counties in this region to be changed to incipient drought,” SCDNR Hydrologist Scott Harder said. Clemson Extension Agronomy Agent Patricia DeHond added “Until recently, we were behind in soil moisture, and current drought indices, streamflow and lake levels all indicate drought conditions are moderate to incipient, with little to no additional rainfall in the forecast for the next two weeks.”
The Upstate counties will remain in their current drought statuses due to low streamflow levels and notable declines in water levels for reservoirs in the Savannah and Saluda Basins. The recent rains improved streamflow conditions, but those improved conditions are expected to only be temporary. “You have to understand that we have been very dry for a very long time, and wet for a short period of time,” Naturalist and West Area Drought Committee Member Dennis Chastain said. “There has been some conspicuous improvement in the upper levels of the soil and the near term looks good for the beginning of the planting season, but at the deeper levels the soil is still very dry.”
Reports show soil moisture across the state is below the five-year average, and this information raises cause for concern as South Carolina approaches the growing season and warmer weather. “Rains over the last two weeks have accelerated field preparation and corn planting,” S.C. Department of Agriculture Assistant Commissioner Aaron Wood stated. “Winter wheat, cool-season pasture, spring forage, and early-season vegetable yields look to be down because of poor growing conditions.”
According to the South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC), wildfire activity in March was 70 percent higher than usual for this time of the year. Recent rains have played a role in reducing the potential for short-term danger, but SCFC Forest Protection Chief Darryl Jones pointed out that “wildfire activity normally peaks in April, so we do expect to have an uptick in fires through the rest of the month until ‘greenup’ occurs, when the grasses and other plants on the forest floor begin growing.”
The committee plans to meet again by the end of May to discuss drought conditions and change county drought statuses if necessary.
Spartanburg Water is dedicated to the protection and preservation of our local water supply. We monitor the same indicators that the State Drought Committee does, as well as local data that impacts our area, on a daily basis. Staff continues to monitor, evaluate, and appropriately manage lake levels to ensure sufficient water enters our drinking water treatment system. Although we have experienced an extended period of lower than normal precipitation, we were able to capture sufficient water from the passage of recent storm systems to completely fill and overflow our storage reservoirs. Water supply is more than adequate to meet the community’s needs. Customers may hear of concerns in other local areas via the local news, but, thus far, the supply in the Spartanburg Water area remains at levels that do not require any special conservation request. Spartanburg Water will always ask that consumers use water wisely and apply smart water practices.
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