Future increases in water demand could make the state more vulnerable to economic, social, and environmental consequences of drought, like the major event of 1998-2002. This reinforces the need for improved coordination and planning within and between levels of government and water users. Therefore, South Carolina's drought response program emphasizes integrated planning and response. It includes a committee composed of local and state representatives who are responsible for evaluating drought conditions to determine if action beyond the scope of local response is needed. At the local level, water users, such as water systems, industries, and power generation facilities, are responsible for maintaining drought management plans and response policies.
The foundation of local drought management plans and policies are system specific drought triggers, identification of alternative water supplies, and public education. A unique component of each plan is the designation of drought triggers specific to each system that can be used separate from, or in conjunction with, drought triggers at the state level. System-specific drought triggers include information such as reservoir levels, number of days of supply remaining, and average daily use while the State uses more traditional indices such as the Palmer Drought Severity Index and Standard Precipitation Index for state level declarations. This project will demonstrate the effectiveness of using the integrated planning approach by evaluating drought strength, frequency, the mean and maximum duration of droughts of a given intensity, and the trend in drought incidence as indicated by the local and State triggers.