All 46 counties in South Carolina are now at either normal drought status or incipient, according to state officials.
The state Drought Response Committee downgraded the statuses of multiple counties around the state, thanks to increased precipitation since April. The change is drastic, since Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties have been in severe drought and surrounding counties have been in moderate drought since October 2016.
S.C. Department of Natural Resources hydrologist Scott Harder was part of the lengthy discussion among committee members this week that led to the status downgrades.
"Streamflow conditions and groundwater conditions have greatly improved throughout the state over the past two months," 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."
Committee members were hesitant to fully downgrade Upstate counties to normal status.
"Periodic rains boost stream flows, and then they fall back to the low end of normal range or below," said Spartanburg Water Compliance Manager John Westcott. "April was a great rainfall month, May was a good one, and the jury is still out for June. For these reasons, we decided to make the more conservative call of incipient drought, the lowest level of drought status for certain counties."
The committee will continue to monitor conditions and will meet during the summer, as needed.