Saluda River Wastewater Discharges

Each year tens of thousands of people visit the Lower Saluda River to participate in activities including kayaking, canoeing, tubing, fishing and swimming. The cold water (approximately 55° year round) supports a now thriving trout population and the rapids boast some of the best urban whitewater in the Southeast US. In 1990 the Lower Saluda River was designated as a State Scenic River because of its tremendous recreational and ecological value. Along with that designation came a recommendation that all domestic wastewater discharges into the river be eliminated. That recommendation echoes a long standing policy of the Water Quality Management Plan for the Central Midlands Region (also known as the 208 Plan) encouraging elimination of smaller domestic wastewater dischargers and consolidating facilities as well as recommending against any further expansion of plants discharging domestic wastewater to the Lower Saluda River.

In 2009 the Central Midlands Council of Governments, the entity responsible for developing and implementing the 208 Plan, published a research report clarifying the consolidation policy and examining the feasibility of eliminating wastewater discharges to the Lower Saluda River. Click the image above to view the 2009 CMCOG report.

There are currently six permitted domestic wastewater discharges on the Lower Saluda River. These wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) are operated by three private companies; Carolina Water Service, Ni Pacolet Milliken Utilities, and Development Services Inc.  

You can view the locations of the WWTPs and discharges, as well as a summary of their recent permit violations, by clicking on the map below. The map also includes the locations of regional WWTPs that the Saluda facilities may be tied into.

According to data from the EPA's Enforcement and Compliance History Online database (ECHO) the Lower Saluda WWTPs have a combined total of 65 permit violations over the last 5 years, with each facility having at least one violation. 

For more than 25 years we as a community have talked about ending these wastewater discharges and protecting the Lower Saluda River and the people who use it. Now is the time to convert talk into action and turn that idea into a reality.

You can read more about the wastewater issues on the Saluda in this recent article from The State Newspaper: Sewage in the Saluda deserves more attention, politicians, river advocates say.