The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has confirmed that eleven dams have failed in the state this week in the wake of Hurricane Florence; bringing the total dam failures in the state to more than 80 in just three years. That number may continue to rise as people return to impacted areas and more dams are surveyed.
“There are more than 2,000 state-regulated dams in South Carolina, most of which are earthen dams on small lakes and ponds”, said Bill Stangler, Congaree Riverkeeper. In 2015, 50 dams around the state failed. The next year, another 20 regulated dams failed during Hurricane Matthew.
Waterkeeper Organizations in the state, along with local allies, have pushed for dam safety reform. But, so far, those efforts have been rebuffed by special interests, led by South Carolina Farm Bureau.
“We really need to take some action to protect our communities and our waterways,” said Christine Ellis, Deputy Director of Winyah Rivers Foundation.
Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins is mapping South Carolina dam failures in the wake of the storm, with plans to add them to our Hurricane Florence story map.
Waterkeeper Alliance is monitoring environmental conditions at industrial animal operations, coal-fired power plants, wastewater treatment facilities and other industrial sites in the Carolinas by air, water, and land in the wake of Hurricane Florence.
Feature image: Lake Darpo, after its dam failed in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Photo credit: Bill Stangler, Congaree Riverkeeper