An annual report by American Rivers has a South Carolina river in its top ten. The problem, however, is that it is on ‘America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 2009’ list. The Saluda River in the upstate has very high phosphorus levels in the water causing huge algae blooms that affect oxygen levels in the river. This impacts about half a million people in the upstate who depend on the Saluda for their drinking water. It also impacts boaters and anglers in that area.
Matt Rice, the Associate Director of Southeast Conservation for American Rivers, says that the Department of Health and Environmental Control does not currently regulate phosphorus in wastewater discharges into state rivers and this is currently killing the Saluda River. Rice says they are turning to DHEC for help. “The decision point here, specifically, is that in the next 12 to 18 months, the Department of Health and Environmental Control is going to be issuing permits for five of the eight largest wastewater treatment plants in the Lake Greenwood area on the Saluda River,” said Rice.
“We are asking DHEC to start meaningfully regulating it.”
Rice says that this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed immediately. According to him, “this is a major problem. It’s causing fish kills. It’s causing unsafe conditions for people. It’s threatening property values. The health of the Saluda River is going to be critical to Greenwood (and) Greenville for generations to come.
“DHEC could go some way, if they limit phosphorus concentrations in the (wastewater) plants.”
America Rivers is a conservation organization that stands for healthy rivers. They protect and restore rivers for the benefit of the American people, its wildlife, and nature.