Clean and Plentiful Water
Our waterways connect us all. From the headwaters in the upstate to our ocean coastline, water issues touch all of us. Clean and plentiful water is absolutely essential for wildlife, ecosystem health, and human health and that is why CVSC works every day to ensure that all of South Carolina has access to both.
CVSC’s Clean Water efforts work at the intersection of public health, natural resource management, and the environment. Through legislative and regulatory advocacy, community partnerships, and grasstops education, we raise the profile of clean water needs throughout South Carolina and launch the strategic campaigns necessary to deliver results.
Connect with Zach for more information on CVSC’s water initiatives.
The South Carolina General Assembly is currently not in session. As a result, there are no active clean water bills that CVSC is working to advance.
We will update this page with the latest information as we approach the 2023 legislative session.
CVSC’s clean water efforts in the 2021-2022 legislative session were dominated by discussions of removing toxic, ‘forever chemicals’ called PFAS from drinking water systems from across the state.
The CVSC team drove multiple efforts in the House and Senate to establish regulations for PFAS in drinking water and/or establish a remediation fund to remove these chemicals from drinking water as quickly as possible. Two of the CVSC-backed efforts gained traction:
- Joint Resolution S.219 (sponsored by Sen. McElveen) first sought to require DHEC to establish a drinking water standard for PFAS chemicals. After numerous subcommittee and committee discussions, the bill was amended to one that sought would have included private wells in DHEC’s PFAS testing strategy and would have provided access to funding to remove PFAS if a well owner’s water or utility’s water tested over the PFAS Lifetime Health Advisory limit set by the EPA. This legislation failed to advance once the budget proviso (described below) was adopted.
- Chairman Murrell Smith and Representative Herbkersman introduced and ensured adoption of a budget proviso that established a PFAS Remediation Fund as well as providing $25m to the fund. The budget amendment required DHEC to establish and manage this new, proactive state fund that would allow drinking water systems and private well owners to take early, voluntary action to address elevated levels of PFAS. Recognizing disparities between large and small water systems, the Fund specifically targeted larger investments in rural, low-wealth communities.
You can read more about these and other legislative efforts on our Legislation page here.
Ensuring all South Carolinians have clean and safe drinking water coming from their taps requires the General Assembly dedicate sufficient funding and adopt sound policies for the protection of public health.
Communities across South Carolina – especially low-wealth communities and rural communities – must ask themselves daily if their water is safe to drink. As scientists and regulators learn more about various chemicals found in the environment and drinking water sources, South Carolinians are discovering that they have more and more of these new, toxic ‘forever chemicals’ in their drinking water.
One such chemical that has received significant attention is PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances), which have been a primary focus for CVSC in recent years. CVSC has worked with stakeholders across the state to enable our state agencies to identify areas of concern and get relief for those who are drinking water contaminated with these and other toxic chemicals.
The changing climate is driving more extreme weather events – larger and more frequent storms and associated floods but also more prolonged and intense droughts. At the same time, sea level rise and our increased use of groundwater resources are driving saltwater intrusion into our groundwater stores.
From drinking water, to manufacturing and agricultural consumptive use, to recreational boating and fishing needs, to sustainable flows for fish and wildlife, it is clear that thoughtful management of our water supplies is essential for South Carolina’s environment and economy.
That is why CVSC works closely with state agencies like the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the Department of Natural Resources, and the SC Office of Resilience to ensure that our water use policies in the state meet both the needs of South Carolinians and the needs of South Carolina’s ecosystems.
We educate and lobby our state leaders on the need to thoughtfully manage this life-giving resource, both pushing and empowering them to make the right choice for the future our our state, our families, and our economy.
From the ACE Basin to Bulls Bay and beyond, South Carolina’s coastline is one of the most iconic in the world. We have invested heavily in protecting our coast from industrialization and the pollution that it brings. As a result, our tourism economy has thrived from the focus on coastal protection and conservation.
Unfortunately, the threats continue to grow for our coast. State and federal leaders have sought to open South Carolina’s shores to offshore oil and gas drilling. Short-sighted developers have tried to build on fragile coastal areas prone to both flooding and loss of shorelines. Lawmakers have tried to undo 30 year policies prohibiting ineffective seawalls in order to benefit a select few landowners. And access to coastal fishing and boating opportunities is becoming more and more limited for South Carolinians.
CVSC remains ready to defend our coastal waters from these threat should they arise again. At the same time, we are invested in finding ways for South Carolina’s coastal communities to live in conjunction with our fragile and ever-changing shoreline, allowing South Carolinians to enjoy our waterways and fisheries while lessening the human impact on both.
In 2020 & 2021, CVSC advanced pro-conservation policy, helped pass landmark legislation with the Santee Cooper reform bill, drove 1.3 million voter contacts, and secured 88% success rate in the elections. Our successes are a testament to conservations bipartisan appeal and CVSC’s legacy of building consensus across the aisle.