STATE - Gov. Mark Sanford is calling for much of the state to be federally recognized as a disaster area after a prolonged drought continues to plague all but two counties with destroyed crops and pastureland.
Forty-four of the state's 46 counties now qualify for disaster relief after an on-going rain deficient of more than two feet plunged the area into one of the worst droughts in South Carolina's history.
Only the coastal counties of Georgetown and Charleston have received an average amount of rainfall to maintain under-normal conditions.
Sanford toured Pickens County Wednesday to see first hand the drought-ravaged area and to hear the plight of local farmers trying to save their cattle and land.
State Drought Response Committee member Dennis Chastain said about two weeks ago he saw a dramatic drop in the area's water levels in streams and creeks, an indication the level in the water table is being affected by the dry conditions.
State Hydrologist Bud Badr also said the on-going drought is playing havoc on the ground water table.
While the lower region of the state consists of sandy soil, the Upstate consists mostly of bedrock, causing the underground water source to flow sluggishly, like water running through clay, Badr said.
"The water behaves like water moving through clay, and it moves slower," he said. "It takes a lot of time for water to travel through rock."
Because of the drought and the rapid rate of water evaporation, the water table isn't re-nourishing the state's streams and creeks as efficiently as under normal conditions, he said.
Chastain said while it seems the La Ni