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DHEC dam regulations strengthen after historic 2015 flood

During the historic flood 51 regulated dams breached or failed and flood waters closed 23.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Since October 4, 2015, the Department of Health and Environmental Control has been working to increase their regulation of dams around the state. 

During the historic flood 51 regulated dams breached or failed and flood waters closed 23. 

Now DHEC has new dam programs in place.

First, the state legislature gave additional funding, allowing their dam staff to increase from two people to more than 14 full-time staff.

RELATED: Gills Creek area still feeling impacts of 2015 floods, four years later

That allows DHEC to place six engineers in their regional offices throughout the state to inspect and work closely with dam owners in their local areas.

RELATED: The flood of 2015: Four years later

RELATED: South Carolina's historic 2015 flood explained

DHEC is also working with an engineering firm to provide technical and logistical support. 

They also contracted with the Emergency Communications Network to use its CodeRED emergency notification system.

An inundation map has been created to show the status of regulated dams around the state.

They can now send automatic voice calls, text messages and emails to owners and operators of regulated dams to notify them to evaluate their structures or lower water levels. 

DHEC staff are also utilizing a took called ArcGIS Collector. The app lets staff collect data on dams as they are assessed before and after severe weather.

According to DHEC staff "this has proven to be an invaluable tool for dam assessments during recent hurricanes."

The Dam Advisory Group was also established. It is made up of owners, consultants, agencies and others to provide input about the dams program.

DHEC officials say they monitor 2,400 regulated dams around the state and believe that the regulation improvements can help keep people safe during severe weather.

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