South Carolina's Flagship University

Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

Relevant Definitions

Sources of Information

  1. OCRM Permit Frequently Asked Questions
  2. Coastal Zone Management Act, Sections 48-39-10(B), 10(E)-(H), 10(U), 48-39-130(D)(5)-(6), 48-39-10(J)
  3. South Carolina Code of Regulations 30-1(D), 30-5(D)
  4. Nationwide Permit Regional Conditions for South Carolina
  5. Nationwide Permits, general conditions, and definitions
  6. South Carolina Well Regulations - S.C. Code Regs. 61-71(B)
Active Beach
The area seaward of the escarpment or the first line of stable natural vegetation, whichever first occurs, measured from the ocean landward.

Archeological Remains
"Any materials made or altered by [humans], which remain from past historic or prehistoric times (older than 50 years). Examples include old pottery fragments, metal, wood, arrowheads, stone implements or tools, human burials, historic docks, structures, or non-recent (older than 100 years) vessel ruins."

Within a standard erosion zone the baseline is established at the location of the crest of the primary oceanfront sand dune in that zone. Within an unstabilized inlet zone the baseline must be determined as the most landward point of erosion at anytime during the past forty years, unless best available scientific and historical data of the inlet and adjacent beaches indicate that the shoreline is unlikely to return to its former position.

Beach/Dune System
All land from the mean high-water mark of the Atlantic Ocean landward to the 40 year setback line described in S.C. CODE ANN. Section 48-39-280.

Boat Storage Dock
"A floating structure that a vessel is parked on for purposes of out-of-water storage."

Bored Well
A large diameter individual residential well or irrigation well, usually equal to or greater than 24 inches in diameter, that is typically installed at a shallow depth and with casing constructed of rock, concrete, or ceramic material.

"A retaining wall designed to retain fill material, but not to withstand wave forces of an exposed shoreline."

Beach Renourishment
"The artificial establishment and periodic renourishment of a beach with sand that is compatible with the beach in such a way as to create a dry sand beach at all stages of the tide and/or provide some level of storm protection."

A pipe or tubing of appropriate material, of varying diameter and weight, lowered into a borehole during or after drilling in order to support the sides of the hole and prevent the sides of the hole from caving, the loss of drilling mud into permeable strata, or fluids from entering or leaving the borehole.

Consolidated Formation or Material
Crystalline, metamorphic, limestone or otherwise competent rock.

Coastal Waters
The navigable waters of the United States subject to the ebb and flood of the tide and which are saline waters, shoreward to their mean high-water mark.

Coastal Zone
"All coastal waters and submerged lands seaward to the State's jurisdictional limits (3 miles) and all lands and waters in the counties of the State which contain any one or more of the critical areas. These counties are Beaufort, Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester, Horry, Jasper and Georgetown."

Commercial Dock
A docking facility used for commercial purposes, though not necessarily a marina, a boat yard or a dry storage facility.

Community Dock
A docking facility providing access to more than four families, with effective docking space of no more than 250 linear feet and is not a marina. Effective docking space is adequate length and water depth to dock a 20-foot boat.

Critical area
"Coastal waters, tidelands, beaches, beach/dune systems, which is the area from the mean high-water mark to the setback line as determined in S.C. CODE ANN. Section 48-39-280."

"Any discharge of dredged or fill material."

"Structures that provide docking space for ten boats or less."

"Removal or displacement by any means of soil, sand, gravel, shells, or other material whether of intrinsic value or not, from any critical area."

Effective Docking Space
"Adequate length and water depth to dock a 20-foot boat."

"Any unusual incident resulting from natural or unnatural causes which endangers the health, safety or resources of the residents of the State, including damages or erosion to any beach or shore resulting from a hurricane, storm or other such violent disturbance."

Emergency Repairs
Repairs due to emergencies as defined in S.C. Code Ann. Section 48-39-10(U) to an existing bank, dike, fishing pier, or structure other than ocean front erosion control structures or devices which have been erected in accordance with federal and state laws or provided for by general law or acts passed by the General Assembly, if notice is given in writing to the Department within 72 hours of the onset of the needed repair.

Ephemeral Stream
An ephemeral stream has flowing water only during, and for a short duration after, precipitation events in a typical year. Ephemeral streams are located above the water table year-round. Groundwater is not a source for the stream. Runoff from rainfall is the primary source of water for stream flow.

Erosion Control Structures
An erosion control structure includes a seawall, bulkhead, or revetment.

"Displacement of saline waters by the depositing into critical areas of soil, sand, gravel, shells or other material or the artificial alteration of water levels or water currents by physical structure, drainage ditches or otherwise," "... any material used for the primary purpose of replacing an aquatic area with dry land or of changing the bottom elevation of a waterbody... ."

Habitable Structure
"A structure suitable for human habitation including, but not limited to, single or multi-family residences, hotels, condominium buildings, and buildings for commercial purpose. Each building of a condominium regime is considered a separate habitable structure, but if a building is divided into apartment, then the entire building, not the individual apartment is considered a single habitable structure. Additionally, a habitable structure includes porches, gazebos, and other attached improvements."

Historic Property
Any prehistoric or historic district site, building, structure, or other object included in, or eligible for inclusion in, the National Register of Historic Places maintained by the Secretary of the Interior.

Individual Residential Well
A well intended to produce potable water for human consumption at a single residence or family.

Joint Use
"Any private dock intended for the use of two to four families."

"Any one of the following- 1) locked harbor facility, 2) facility providing fueling, pump-out, maintenance or repair services regardless of length, 3) any facility with effective docking space of more than 250 linear feet or provides moorage for more than 10 boats, 4) any water area with a structure used for docking or mooring vessels and was constructed to provide temporary or permanent docking space for more than 10 boats, 5) a dry-stack facility."

Minor Development Activity
Construction, maintenance, repair or alteration of any private pier or erosion control structure, not involving dredging.

Normal Maintenance and Repair
(This definition only applies to a previously permitted, grandfathered or exempt structure)- any routine work on any structure in a critical area to maintain the structure's integrity if the structure is mostly intact and functional in its present condition if the work doesn't exceed the original dimensions of the structure. Any "expansions, additions, or major rebuilding will require either a Department [OCRM] permit or documentation to and written approval from the Department [OCRM]."

Paleontological remains
"Consist of old animal remains, original or fossilized, such as teeth, tusks, bone or entire skeletons."

Pre-Construction Notification
A request submitted by the project proponent to the Corps of Engineers for confirmation that a particular activity is authorized by a Nationwide Permit.

Private Dock
A facility providing access to one family that is not a marina.

Public Interest
As used within South Carolina Rules and Regulations, public interest refers to the beneficial and adverse impacts and effects of a project upon members of the general public, especially residents of South Carolina who are not the owners and/or developers of the project. To the extent that, in the opinion of the Department, the value of such public benefits is greater than the public costs embodied in adverse environmental, economic and fiscal effects, a proposed project may be credited with net public benefits.

"A sloping structure built along an escarpment or in front of a bulkhead to protect the shoreline or bulkhead from erosion."

Riparian Areas
Lands adjacent to streams, lakes, and estuarine-marine shorelines. Riparian areas are transitional between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, through which surface and subsurface hydrology connects waterbodies with their adjacent uplands.

"A special type of retaining wall that is specifically designed to withstand wave forces."

Toward the sea.

Setback line
Line landward of the baseline that is at a distance from the baseline equal to 40 times the average erosion rate.

Stream Channelization
The manipulation of a stream's course, condition, capacity, or location that causes more than minimal interruption of normal stream processes. A channelized stream remains a water of the United States.

All areas which are at or below mean high tide and coastal wetlands, mudflats, and similar areas that are contiguous or adjacent to coastal waters and are an integral part of the estuarine systems involved. Coastal wetlands include marshes, mudflats, and shallows and means those areas periodically inundated by saline waters whether or not the saline waters reach the area naturally or through artificial water courses and those areas that are normally characterized by the prevalence of saline water vegetation capable of growth and reproduction. Provided, however, nothing in this definition shall apply to wetland areas that are not an integral part of an estuarine system. Further, until such time as the exact geographic extent of this definition can be scientifically determined, the Department shall have the authority to designate its approximate geographic extent.

Traditional Navigable Waters
Any waters that have been, are used, or can be used as a means to transport interstate or foreign commerce up to the head of navigation. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Office can provide a list of these waters.

Waters of the U.S.
Essentially includes all surface waters like navigable waters and their tributaries, all interstate waters and tributaries, all adjacent wetlands, all impoundments of these waters and all areas connected via Commerce Clause connections.

Those areas that are inundated or saturated by surface or ground water at a frequency and duration sufficient to support, and that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands generally include swamps, marshes, bogs, and similar areas. The Corps has a document to help you recognize wetlands.

Last Updated October 29, 2010


This project was supported through a generous grant from the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium. The principal investigator is Professor Kim Diana Connolly at the University of South Carolina School of Law. Two law students, Keith Bartlett and Valerie Cochran, provided invaluable work toward project completion. Technical assistance with web design was provided by USC School of Law webmaster Tobias Brasier. Broken links should be reported to lawweb@law.sc.edu. This website is NOT intended as legal advice, and particularized analysis by professionals should be sought wherever appropriate.