- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - More than two months after historic rains flooded South Carolina, breached dams are still being found in the Midlands.

The State newspaper in Columbia reports (http://bit.ly/1ObOmbm ) that since the storm in early October at least 23 more broken dams have been found in Richland and Lexington counties. That’s in addition to the 45 failed dams state regulators had earlier identified in the counties.

The early October storms dumped more than 2 feet of rain in some areas of South Carolina causing widespread flooding. More than a foot of rain fell in the Midlands.

The newspaper reports most of the dams recently identified have been found in rural Lexington County. Many are small farm dams that flooded only a few acres, are not recorded anywhere and are not regulated by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Lexington County officials estimate that it may cost at least $7 million to fix roads damaged by flooding from the rains and dam breaks.

Some of those repairs could take a year and county administrator Joe Mergo said that repairs will put a strain on county finances even if there is federal disaster aid to help pay for some of the costs.

Dave Hargett, a Clemson University adjunct professor who tracks dam safety, said it is no surprise that more breached dams are being discovered.

While DHEC regulates 2,400 dams statewide, state emergency management officials estimate there are as many as 20,000 unregulated dams in the state.

Hargett said while there have been problems with dams regulated by DHEC, many unregulated dams are likely in worse shape.

“You’d expect a high frequency of failures,’” he said. “They are not noticed and reported because they are off the radar.”

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