Work continues to get funding for solution to Conestee Dam concerns

Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 12:48 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GREENVILLE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - The Conestee Dam is years past its intended lifespan, and with a risk that it could break at any moment, a push to fund a fix is on.

“I think everybody agrees right now that this is an urgent public safety matter,” said Greenville County Council Member Butch Kirven.

Sediment deep under the water is filled with contaminants from Greenville’s Industrial period and is held back by the dam that is on the main stem of the Reedy River that flows down to Lake Greenwood and beyond.

With concerns about the condition of the Conestee Dam, officials have come up with a solution to build a new dam 10 feet downstream while leaving the current dam alone.

The budget for that project is $47.5 million.

“I’m very comfortable that this dam is going to be built in this budget year,” said Sen. Billy Garrett, who represents Greenwood County.

In the House proposed budget that passed in March, $47.5 million was committed, while in the Senate earlier this month, the finance committee committed at least $30 million to the dam in the budget.

The two chambers will meet before sending a final proposal to the Governor’s desk, meaning the numbers could change.

“We’re putting it up almost in an emergency fashion, but we expect for private business as well as Greenville County to pay for this ultimately,” said Garrett.

“Although the dam is located in Greenville County, Greenville County did not cause the problem. Neither did any of the other jurisdictions that are affected downstream. This goes back many years. However we do understand there is some responsibility to our citizens,” said Kirven.

Kirven says his preference is the state fully funds the dam right now and then looks at a reimbursement plan for part of the project down the road from impacted cities and counties, plus private businesses.

“We’re not trying to avoid any kind of participation at Greenville County, and I don’t think any local governments are. It’s just a matter of how long it would take to come up with the amount of money that would be required,” he said.

One other possible source of funding could be the federal government, although nothing from them is official.

While there are still questions about where exactly the money will come from, local officials from across the Upstate agree the problem needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

Garrett thinks the budget will be done by late May or early June, and if funding is there, construction on the new dam would start soon after and last for three years.