South Carolina’s top environmental regulator says last month’s record flooding has shown South Carolina needs to put more emphasis on dam inspections and safety.
Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Heigel told a legislative committee Wednesday that she would like her agency to inspect “C1” highest-hazard dams once per year instead of the current once every two years. However, she said that would likely require DHEC lacks to double employees in its dam safety division.
“We have been challenged to meet that inspection schedule because of staffing over the years,” she told the House budget committee. The agency brought on contractors and engineers from South Carolina Electric and Gas to inspect hundreds of dams across the Midlands last month, Heigel said.
During the record rainfall and flooding in early October, 36 dams failed from the unprecedented amounts of water. Seven of those dams were “C1,” meaning failure could cause significant property damage and potential loss of life downstream. Another 16 breached dams were “C2,” meaning their failure could cause property damage.