South Carolina’s Upstate is no longer in a severe drought following a wet May.
The state Drought Response Committee downgraded the statuses of every county northwest of the Midlands at its Tuesday meeting. The committee had classified all of the Upstate as either in “moderate” or “severe” drought at its last meeting in April, but said conditions had significantly improved since then. After Tuesday, no county is listed worse than “incipient” drought — the first stage below normal.
“We’ve experienced a drastic turnaround in just two months’ time,” West Region Drought Committee Member Dennis Chastain said. “Groundwater has significantly improved. Streams are flowing well. There are no water supply problems. And agriculture at all levels seems to be in great shape.”
The committee only listed 14 counties as normal conditions in April, but that increased to 30 on Tuesday. The Pee Dee and Grand Strand regions in the state’s northeast were all downgraded from incipient to normal. The biggest improvements were reported in the upper Savannah Basin counties of Oconee, Pickens, and Anderson. All were previously classified to be in severe drought status, but were downgraded to normal.
“Streamflow conditions and groundwater conditions have greatly improved throughout the state over the past two months,” state Department of Natural Resources Hydrologist Scott Harder said. “In addition, reservoirs across much of the state are near or above their target levels for this time of year, and though lakes in the Savannah Basin are still approximately five to six feet below their targets, water levels have risen substantially in these reservoirs over the past several months.”
The committee will continue to monitor conditions and will meet during the summer, as needed.