Farmers vs. Landowners in S.C. Water Rights Suit
By Sara Jerome
Landowners and farmers in South Carolina are in court over a law regulating water rights and water siphoning. On one side are “industrial-scale farms that use billions of gallons of river water to irrigate crops,” The State reported.
The other side consists of “by riverside property owners.” The property owners want part of South Carolina’s water withdrawal law overturned, the report said.
“Landowners who filed suit say the law allows farms to take water from rivers at the expense of users downstream. The water law was written to stop unchecked siphoning from rivers, but it allows less oversight of agriculture than other water users, such as industries,” the report said.
The law, passed in 2010 with certain exemptions for farmers, sparked controversy this year when a potato farm was approved to make large water withdrawals.
“On the Edisto River’s south fork near Windsor, S.C., Michigan-based agribusiness Walther Farms plans to siphon as much as 800 million gallons of water per month for twothirds of the year. Conservationists say using the Edisto to irrigate what’s expected to be the largest potato farm in South Caro¬lina could have devastating effects on the river’s ecosystem,” the Augusta Chronicle reported.
“To opponents, Walther Farms represents the beginning of an attack on the state’s rivers and streams,” the report said. Environmentalists are at odds with state regulators over the plan at Walther Farms.
Source: Water Online