Water, as a state resource, will be more protected under a bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday. Berkeley Republican Paul Campbell authored most of the water permitting bill -one that was five years in the making. It sets up surface water use and reporting.
Campbell calls it a good and fair bill. “None of the six or seven, eight interest groups that were working with us on the bill are exactly happy with the bill, but none are unhappy with the bill,”says Campbell. “They can all support what we came up with. We’ve got agreement from the environmental side, but we’ve also got agreement from business, industries and utilities, from public water, from agriculture -they’re all with us. What we’ve tried to do is come up with a bill that treats everybody fairly.”Campbell says the law would protect the public’s use of water, and takes every other user into account as well. The measure requires that anyone pulling water from one of the state’s 15 river basins must get a permit to do so. It grandfathers in current water uses.
“Anybody coming to the state, now, will know exactly what the requirements are if they’re going to use surface water so they can put that into their planning process. They will also know the flow rate of the streams that they’re coming in to look at, so that will help them pick a site that will provide the water they need for their process or their jobs,” he says.
Campbell says that the bill will prevent water usage issues in the future. “It also will probably protect us if we have any litigation with the surrounding states. And hopefully that will never occur. But if it does, we do have a permitting process that will show that we are being conservation-minded and how we use our water inside the state.”
The South Carolina Wildlife Federation says “This bill will add an additional layer of protection for fisheries, wildlife and boaters.” The bill now goes to the House.