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Honorable Mark Sanford

Representing the 1st District of South Carolina

Sanford Sends Letter to SC Department of Health and Environmental Control

May 4, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC - Yesterday, Representative Mark Sanford (R-SC) sent a letter to the Director of South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Catherine Heigel, urging DHEC to delay Google’s permit request to increase groundwater withdrawal activities:

He released the following statement:   

“I believe that taking a moment to develop a comprehensive groundwater management plan is both the responsible and obvious choice here. Pushing through a permit modification without understanding the ramifications just doesn’t make sense. Instead, it seems to me that DHEC should delay Google’s permit request until two studies are finalized, showing the effects of greater groundwater withdrawals on our natural resources.”

The text of the letter is as follows:

May 3, 2017

The Honorable Catherine E. Heigel
S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control
2600 Bull Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Dear Director Heigel,
In light of your upcoming hearings on aquifer withdrawal permitting, I am writing to express my concerns, and those of the residents I serve, with what could be a serious threat to the groundwater resources of the Lowcountry and surrounding regions. As you know, Google has recently applied for a modification to their permit to pump up to 1.5 million gallons of water a day from the Middendorf Aquifer beneath the Charleston area – triple the amount they are currently permitted to withdraw. And while the Lowcountry is blessed with an abundance of fresh water, there is no way to fully understand how our homes will be affected until proper geological surveys are conducted. Accordingly, I think there is particular wisdom in pressing the “pause” button before rushing to complete Google’s permit application.
Aquifer depletion is dangerous for local residents and economies alike, as it leads to the drying up of drinkable water sources, increased pumping and utility costs, and eventual contamination from saltwater intrusion. Furthermore, Google has declined to comment on their request to triple the volume of groundwater that they currently withdraw, or on whether or not they have pursued alternative solutions to harmful aquifer depletion. I could go on, but the point is that we should not open our resources to the promises of anyone, regardless of how good a corporate citizen they are and have been, without first thoroughly examining the effects of this kind of aquifer depletion on our fresh water reserves.
To this end, both the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will finalize a study in 2019 that updates models of groundwater flow and recharge in the Middendorf Aquifer. These studies will contain information vital to understanding the effects that increased aquifer withdrawal will have on our natural water reserves, and will allow your agency to form a more comprehensive groundwater management plan for the area.
It is for these reasons that I urge DHEC to delay Google’s permit request to increase groundwater withdrawal activities until local regulators have adopted a responsible groundwater management plan that incorporates all of the findings from the new USGS and DNR study.


Mark Sanford