Officials give update on Lake Conestee Dam
GREENWOOD, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Officials are giving an update on efforts to address the Lake Conestee Dam, which is decades past its intended lifespan.
“It’s a regional impact, and arguably it’s a South Carolina issue,” said Lake Conestee Dam Restoration Project Manager Kelly Lowry.
DHEC officials say sediment deep under the water is filled with contaminants from Greenville’s industrial period.
That sediment is being held back by some cleaner sediment on top and the Conestee Dam.
“If the dam were to fail then that more contaminated sediment could start to move down the Reedy River and create an exposure pathway,” explained DHEC Bureau of Land and Waste Management Chief Henry Porter.
On Monday, concerned neighbors in Greenwood County, where the Reedy River flows to, asked questions to those leading the charge to address the dam.
“The Lake Conestee Dam has been on the back burner for a lot of years, and this year we really have a chance to succeed. The stars are aligning,” said Lowry.
“I’m very positive with the things I’ve heard here tonight from the representatives and people talking that are in control of the money that we might be able to get this done quickly,” said Stephenie Hewett, who lives in Greenwood County.
The solution officials are planning for is to build a new dam 10 feet downstream from the current one.
“You build a new structure that really is the containment that provides the new dam for that without having to impact the existing dam,” said Porter.
The South Carolina House of Representatives passed a budget Tuesday that included $47.5 million to start the project. The plan now heads to the Senate for further discussion.
In the meantime, planning for the new dam is already underway.
“Putting pencil to paper, that’s not happened before. Because there’s never been the possibility of having the money to fix the dam before,” said Lowry.
There are two more opportunities for the public to get their questions answered about work on the dam:
March 21, 2023: Lake Murray Association, 7:00 - 8:00 pm, Ruritan Meeting Center located at 1274 Hollywood Rd Saluda SC 29138.
March 27, 2023: Public Q&A Forum, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, Ralph Chandler Middle School, 4231 Fork Shoals Road, Simpsonville, SC.
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