South Carolina's Flagship University

Regulatory Pathfinder
for Coastal Development in South Carolina

State Laws That May Govern Coastal Activities (in alphabetical order)

  1. Beachfront Management Act, S.C. Code Ann. Sections 48-39-10 - 48-39-360 (1976). The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) administers the Beachfront Management Act "to protect the quality of the coastal environment and to promote economic and social improvement of the coastal zone." Id. at Section 48-39-30. OCRM is charged with developing a comprehensive coastal management plan spanning eleven specific elements such as an evaluation of current and future resources and the "establish[ment of] broad guidelines on priority of uses in critical areas." Id. at Sections 48-39-80 and 48-39-50. Section 48-39-80 specifically requires OCRM to develop a beach erosion program. OCRM can hold public meetings, write regulations, and issue permits. Id. at Section 48-39-50. In particular, if an individual wants to use a beach or tidal area they must obtain a permit from OCRM. Id. at Section 48-39-130(A). Certain federal laws, such as the Clean Water Act and the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection, and Restoration Act, require permits and frequently overlap and interact with this law.
  2. Environmental Protection Fund Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 48-2-10 to 48-2-90. The Environmental Protection Fund Act sets aside a special fund where fees collected from permits are deposited. Id. at Section 48-2-20. The fees are collected from the various laws that require permits such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Pollution Control Act. Id. at Section 48-2-30. Funds are then used for environmental programs. This Act also sets the maximum fee for a license or permit, and prohibits a license or permit from being issued until all the fees have been paid. Id. at Section 48-2-50.
  3. Erosion and Sediment Reduction Act of 1983, S.C. CODE ANN. Section 48-18-10 to 48-18-80. Pursuant to the Erosion and Sediment Reduction Act, South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) must "implement a statewide erosion and sediment reduction and stormwater management program" in order to reduce erosion and sedimentation while improving stormwater management. Id. at Section 48-18-40. DHEC must "conduct surveys, investigations, and assessments of erosion, sediment, and stormwater management problems." Id. at Section 48-18-40. This Act grants DHEC authority to pass regulations relating to erosion and sediment reduction and stormwater management for State, state agency or quasi-state agency owned lands. Id. at Section 48-18-70. Conservation districts must report annually to DHEC and provide leadership for the development of erosion and sediment reduction plans within their area. Id. at Section 48-18-60. Activities covered under the South Carolina Mining Act are not covered by this Act.
  4. Groundwater Use and Reporting Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 49-5-10 to 49-5-150 The Groundwater Use and Reporting Act applies to those who withdraw "groundwater in excess of three million gallons of water during any one month from a single well or from multiple wells under common ownership within a 1-mile radius from any one existing or proposed well" and who are in any of the coastal counties listed in the Act. Id. at Sections 49-5-30(4)(a) and (12). South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control designates capacity use areas to conserve and protect groundwater resources in order to prevent waste. Id. at Section 49-5-20. Single family residence or household, noncommercial uses are exempt. Id. at Section 49-5-70(A)(4).
  5. Interbasin Transfer of Water Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 49-21-10 to 49-21-80. The Interbasin Transfer of Water Act does not allow the "withdraw[al], diver[sion], pump[ing], or caus[ing] directly the transfer of either five percent of the seven-day, ten-year low flow, or one million gallons or more of water a day on any day, whichever is less, from one river basin" without a permit from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Id. at Section 49-21-20. DHEC designates riverbeds and sets permit time limits and methods of revocation. Id. at Sections 49-21-30 and 49-21-40.F
  6. Pollution Control Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 48-1-10 to 48-1-350. The Pollution Control Act (PCA) was adopted "to maintain reasonable standards of purity of the air and water resources of the State, consistent with the public health, safety and welfare of its citizens, maximum employment, the industrial development of the state... and the protection of physical property and other resources," Pursuant to the PCA, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) adopts pollution standards for water and air. Id. at Sections 48-1-20 and 48-1-40. DHEC issues "make a new outlet or source, or to increase the quantity of discharge from existing outlets or sources.'" Id. at Section 48-1-100. Without a permit it is illegal to, directly or indirectly, "throw, drain, run, allow to seep or otherwise discharge into the environment of the State organic or inorganic matter." Id. at Section 48-1-90. DHEC has the authority to take necessary action to control undesirable levels of pollution. Id at Section 48-1-120. DHEC also has enforcement responsibilities that can result in civil and criminal penalties. Id. at Sections 48-1-120 and 48-1-320. Local counties are also given authority to "establish, administer, and enforce a local air pollution control program." Id. at Section 48-1-310. Parts of the federal Clean Water Act were incorporated by the South Carolina General Assembly into this law.
  7. South Carolina Solid Waste Policy and Management Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 44-96-10 to 44-96-470. The South Carolina Solid Waste Policy and Management Act is split into 2 pieces: Solid Waste Policy and Solid Waste Management. One of the Act's purposes is to "establish and maintain a cooperative state program for providing planning assistance... to local governments for solid waste management... [and][to] promote the reduction, recycling, reuse, and treatment of solid waste and the recycling of materials which would otherwise be disposed of as solid waste." Id. at Section 44-96-20(B)(2) and 44-96-20(B)(6). The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) must develop a statewide solid waste management plan and report to the state annually. Id. at Section 44-96-60. Financial assistance for solid waste management programs may be available from the Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling. Id. at Section 44-96-130. The Act requires solid waste management facilities to be sited, designed, constructed, operated and closed in ways that protect human health and safety and the environment. Id. at Section 44-96-240. A permit from DHEC is required to operate a solid waste management facility. Id. at Sections 44-96-290. No solid waste incinerator with a daily capacity of more than six hundred tons is permitted. Id. at Section 44-96-340. Each county must also develop a solid waste management plan. Id. at Section 44-96-80. Recycling, recovery, and source separation programs are promoted and assisted by the Office of Solid Waste Reduction and Recycling. Id. at Section 44-96-110.
  8. South Carolina Water Quality Revolving Fund Authority Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 48-5-10 to 48-5-190. The South Carolina Water Quality Revolving Fund Authority Act provides authority for administration of a revolving fund established to provide loans for water quality projects, to provide access to some federal matching funds. Loans are made from the fund to local governmental units for the purpose of providing such projects. The Act also creates associated bonding authority.
  9. State Grants for Water and Sewer Authorities, Districts or Systems. S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 6-19-10 to 6-19-70. Under this legislation the State has the ability to make grants to "aid in the financing of any public water supply authorities or districts." Id. at Section 6-19-10. The grants can be used for financing, engineering, legal service costs, specific construction projects, either original or the enlargement of supply, treatment, purification, storage or distribution facilities, treatment, forced mains, lift stations and disposal facilities. Id. at Section 6-19-20. An advisory committee selects projects that will receive funding. Id. at Section 6-19-30. There is a cap on the grant amounts. Id. at Section 6-19-30. Unincorporated areas are to receive no "less than 35% of any designated funds." Id. at Section 6-119-70.
  10. State Recreational Waters Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 44-55-2310 to 44-55-2380. The State Recreational Waters Act designates the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control as the regulatory agency responsible for the "proper design, construction, and operation of public swimming pools." Id. at Section 44-55-2330. Permits are required to alter, construct or operate a public swimming pool. Id. at Section 44-55-2330. Civil penalties are available for violations. Id. at Section 44-55-2370.
  11. State Safe Drinking Water Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 44-55-10 to 44-55-120. The State Safe Drinking Water Act requires public water systems to be designed and constructed according to modern engineering practices for installations of this nature. Id. at Section 44-55-30. Applications must be made to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for the construction, modification or expansion of a public water system. Id. at Section 44-55-40. In addition, this Act establishes the State's authority to regulate wells. Id. at Sections 44-55-40 and 44-55-45. DHEC also has the authority to regulate recreational activites in reservoirs and issue emergency orders if an imminent public health hazard exists. Id. at Sections 44-55-40 and 44-55-60. If a public water system is not in compliance at any time it must give notice to the public. Id. at Section 44-55-70.
  12. Stormwater Management and Sediment Reduction Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 48-14-10 to 48-14-170. The Stormwater Management and Sediment Reduction Act prohibits people from engaging in "a land disturbing activity without first submitting a stormwater management and sediment control plan to the appropriate implementing agency and obtaining a permit to proceed." Id. at Section 48-14-30. The Stormwater Management and Sediment Reduction Program, administered by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), provides technical assistance for local governing bodies and "conduct[s] studies and research regarding the causes, effects, and hazards of stormwater and sediment and methods to control stormwater runoff and sediment." Id. at Section 48-14-50. Civil penalties may be assessed for violations of this Act. Id. at Section 48-14-140.
  13. Surface Water Withdrawal and Reporting Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Section 49-4-10 to 49-4-80. Pursuant to the Surface Water Withdrawal and Reporting Act, public water systems are required to register surface water use with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). Id. at Section 49-4-40. Public water systems are also required to report their annual quantity of water withdrawn. Id. at Section 49-4-50. DHEC can enter premises to investigate pursuant to this Act, and violations may result in civil penalties. Id. at Sections 49-4-60 and 49-4-80.
  14. Water Resources Planning and Coordinating Act, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 49-3-10 to 49-3-50. Under the Water Resources Planning and Coordinating Act, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has the power to create and implement a comprehensive state-wide water resources policy. Id. at Section 49-3-30. The DNR has the power to establish policies to achieve and resolve water resource problems, review other state agencies' activities, and review programs or projects receiving federal aid with regard to the use and control of waters in the State. Id. at Section 49-3-40.
  15. Waters, Water Resources and Drainage, S.C. CODE ANN. Sections 49-1-10 to 49-1-90. Section 49-1-10 of this legislation provides "all streams which have been rendered or can be rendered capable of being navigated by rafts of lumber or timber by the removal of accidental obstructions and all navigable watercourses and cuts are hereby declared navigable streams... . If any person shall obstruct any such stream... such person shall be guilty of a nuisance." It is a misdemeanor to interfere with the navigation of such a stream by cutting trees or throwing other such refuse into the navigable stream. Id. at Section 49-1-20.

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.