From Water Wiki
Many states in the United States require persons who want to withdraw a significant amount of water to first get a permit. These permits may apply to surface and/or groundwater withdrawals and may have various conditions attached to try to ensure that the withdrawal does not harm other water users or waste water. The permittee, in turn, gets more assurance than under the riparian rights approach that this allocation of water will be available.
North Carolina only requires water withdrawal permits inside capacity use areas. South Carolina also has a capacity use area law, passed shortly after N.C.'s in the late 1960s.
South Carolina began considering legislation in 2007, and is still debating legislation in 2010 (Senate bill 452), to start a water withdrawal permit program for surface withdrawals over 3 million gallons per month. Chance for passage in 2008 and 2009 were eliminated by disagreement over instream flow requirements. After negotiations nearly reached a resolution of the instream flow issues in 2009, the South Carolina legislature prepared to debate a new version of water withdrawal permitting in 2010.
On March 16, 2010, the South Carolina Senate approved an amendment to the state’s Surface Water Withdrawal and Reporting Act which would for the first time, establish a permitting system for surface water withdrawals. The amendment, S 452, is now under consideration in the House.
The permitting system proposed in S 452 uses the 20/30/40 approach to setting instream flow levels that has been under consideration for a number of years now. Originally developed by the South Carolina (SC) Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the 20/30/40 approach requires that a minimum of 20%, 30% or 40% of the mean annual daily flow of a stream must remain in the river in order to support fish health and recreation. This approach to setting instream flows can be seen as a compromise between science interests, who would generally prefer a process that used stream-specific studies to set stream-specific flow levels, and business/industry interests, who would generally prefer a single, unchanging standard across the state.
The full text of the legislation is available at the link above. Below is a subjective list of the Top 10 Most Interesting Tidbits from the bill:
- The permitting framework sets minimum instream flow as 20%/30%/40% of mean annual daily flow (dependent on the month) for all streams that are not influenced by dam releases, regardless of stream type.
- SC Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) will determine the minimum instream flow requirement at the point of the proposed withdrawal (as opposed to determining them for entire river segments).
- The requirement to obtain a permit applies to any person who withdraws more than 3,000,000 gallons in any one month.
- In considering permit applications, DHEC must consider (among other things):
- the reasonably foreseeable future need of other uses
- the reasonably foreseeable possibility of significant impact to navigation, habitat, or recreation
- the anticipated effect of the permitted water use on interstate and intrastate water use, public health and welfare, economic development, and the economy of the state.
- DHEC must consult with DNR to determine the stream flow quantity that would require a reduction in each applicant's water withdrawal due to inadequate flow.
- There is a strong public notice component.
- Permittees must have a contingency plan and supplemental water source for times when flow in the river is too low to allow withdrawals.
- Authorized permits will be valid for 20-50 years, depending on the situation, in order to "represent the economic life of any capital investments made by the permittee necessary to carry out the permittee's use of the withdrawn water." Section 49 4 120 (C)(1)
- When the permit expires and is renewed, the renewed permit must be for a quantity at least equal to the expired permit unless DHEC demonstrates that this quantity is not necessary for the permittee's future needs.
- The penalty for violation is $10,000 per day.
Virginia also has a withdrawal permit.
See also: Instream flows