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South Carolina unveils statewide resilience plan

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(The Center Square) — A new statewide water plan should help South Carolina officials determine how and where to invest tax dollars.

The “Strategic Statewide Resilience and Risk Reduction Plan” offers dozens of recommendations but does not include “recommendations for any specific structural mitigation projects.”

The new plan builds on the Floodwater Commission’s 2019 findings. Those suggestions aimed to “serve as a framework to guide state investment in flood mitigation projects and the adoption of programs and policies” and identified at least $300 million in projects “related to resilience from the local perspective.”

“Our state has a cultural history going back to the beginning, a gorgeous, precious, unique environment, but a lot of water and that is good to have a lot of water,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said during a news conference that included Chief Resilience Officer Ben Duncan and Resilience Planning Director Alex Butler.

“There’s some states that hardly have any,” McMaster, a Republican, added. “…That’s not our problem. But we will have problems if we don’t take the steps to learn exactly what water we have, where we have it, when we have it, how much of it there is, where it’s going, why it’s going where it’s going and all of those things.”

The plan comes as the state’s population increased steadily from 2.5 million in 1970 to more than 5.1 million today and is expected to increase to 6.2 million by 2035.

State lawmakers allocated $100 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to the South Carolina Office of Resilience, which started in 2015, to complete stormwater infrastructure projects and buy property in the floodplain across the Palmetto State to reduce the effects of future floods. In March, the agency awarded $45.8 million to 17 projects in 12 counties.

It also oversees the $244 million Disaster Relief and Resilience Reserve Fund.

“There’s an old saying that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” McMaster said. “This report calls for a plan that measures virtually every possible aspect of water and its consequences, its availability.

“There are a lot of ways to protect the land smartly to reduce the threat of these disasters so we don’t have to spend money repairing things,” the governor added.

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