Wetlands State Resource Locator

State Wetlands Information Tool (SWIFT)


South Carolina

Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.

Primary State Wetlands Web Page. This web page should explain the state wetlands program and provide links to various wetlands resources.

Construction Permit Process - State Rules

    How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by South Carolina? The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) administers the South Carolina Coastal Zone Management Act. The OCRM's authority extends to wetlands within the state's coastal zone areas. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control oversees the state's Water Quality Certification Program that implements §401 of the Clean Water Act and protects wetlands. The state's §401 certification program focuses on the role wetlands play in the protection of water quality of surface waters in the state. Permit requirements under the program vary according to the type of activity proposed and the specific wetland situation. Permits may not be issued when the proposed activity will have permanent, adverse effects on existing or designated uses.

    Mitigation Measures. There are three elements to mitigation in the state: avoidance, minimization, and compensation. Avoidance includes the evaluation of the project goals for necessity, water dependency, public benefit, and upland alternatives. Minimization investigates alternatives that result in the lower amount of wetland impact. Compensation is action to offset wetland impact. Compensation can be wetland restoration, wetland enhancement, upland buffering, or wetland preservation. The applicant should begin the mitigation process before the application is initially filed.

Regulatory Definitions
    Wetlands. Wetlands generally have three traits: hydrology, hydrophytic vegetation, and hydric soil. Wetlands are included as waters of the state under the Pollution Control Act. Waters of the state are "lakes, bays, sounds, ponds, impounding reservoirs, springs, wells, rivers, stream, creeks, estuaries, marshes, inlets, canals, the Atlantic Ocean within territorial limits of the state and all other bodies of surface or underground water, natural or artificial, public or private, inland or coastal, fresh or salt, which are wholly or partially within or bordering the state or within its jurisdiction."

    Exempt Wetland Activities. S.C. follows the exemptions permitted by the Army Corps of Engineers under §404. Activities not subject to § 404 regulation are: normal farming, silviculture, and ranching practices; maintenance of existing serviceable structures; construction or maintenance of farm or stock ponds, irrigation ditches, and drainage ditches; temporary sedimentation basins on construction sites; construction or maintenance of farm, forest, or temporary mining roads where best management practices are used.

Wetland Regulatory Background Information Organizations/Non-Government Programs
  • Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.

  • Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.

  • Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.

  • Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.

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