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A Review of Water Quality Permits and Certifications Issued by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control
February 2007

Report (PDF)     Summary (PDF)    Follow-Up (PDF)

Members of the General Assembly asked us to review South Carolina’s process for issuing water quality permits and certifications, as administered by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

We reviewed five types of permits and certifications that are required before residential, commercial, and institutional construction and development may begin. We did not review permits and certifications for industrial construction and development. Our areas of concentration included efficiency, organizational structure, compliance inspections, water quality standards, and ethics.

DHEC’s permitting and certification staff is comprised of engineers, biologists, and other professionals. Their work is aimed at protecting rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands while not imposing excessive delays on property owners. This can be a challenging task for an environmental regulatory agency, particularly during periods of rapid economic growth.