Save Our Saluda Awarded a Second 319 Grant to Protect Water Quality in the Upper Saluda Watershed
Save our Saluda is excited to announce a second grant award from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to protect water quality in the Upper Saluda Watershed. The $550,000 grant will allow Save Our Saluda and partnering organizations to work with local landowners and farmers within the watershed to develop and implement projects aimed at reducing soil runoff to streams and rivers upstream of Saluda Lake.
The Upper Saluda Watershed above Saluda Lake encompasses nearly 300 square miles in Greenville and Pickens Counties and provides critical water resources for local communities in the Upstate. Headwaters of the Saluda River originate at the North Carolina-South Carolina state line and flow to the South, Middle and North Saluda Rivers which ultimately drain to Saluda Lake near Easley and Greenville. Sediment is a significant problem in the lake and in the rivers and their tributaries upstream. Water quality is impaired, aquatic habitat is degraded, recreational use is diminished, and a drinking water source is impacted due to excess sedimentation. Saluda Lake provides drinking water to more than 80,000 customers in the rapidly growing Easley area. The upper lake was dredged in 2011 and 2012 at a cost of over seven million dollars, and less than a decade later it has filled in again.
Save Our Saluda began building a partnership of stakeholder organizations in 2016 to address the problem of sediment pollution in the Upper Saludas and Saluda Lake. Since then, over twenty partner organizations cooperated to develop and implement watershed plans to reduce sediment runoff. Partners provide technical assistance and matching funding for 319 grants that enable implementation of projects in priority watershed areas.
The Upper Saluda Watershed Implementation Project for Sediment will provide up to 90% cost share assistance to landowners within the watershed for soil conservation projects to protect and improve water quality. The project has the potential to reduce sediment runoff to surface waters by an estimated 524 tons per year. Participation is voluntary and based on eligibility.
Projects completed in the Upper Saluda Watershed to date include cover crops, floodplain and riparian restoration, farm road stabilization, stream restoration, sediment basin construction, and drainage improvement and stabilization. Farm equipment (a roller-crimper and no-till seed drill) was also purchased through the first 319 grant and is available for lease to area farmers to help facilitate regenerative farming practices.
Funding for this cooperative project was provided in part by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control with funds from the United States Environmental Protection Agency under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act and through additional support from Easley Combined Utilities, Trees Upstate, Duke Energy, Renewable Water Resources, MetroConnects, the Greenville Soil and Water Conservation District, and Greenville County.
Additional information about the Upper Saluda Watershed Implementation Project for Sediment is available at saveoursaluda.org/projects/ag-implementation-grant.
An interactive watershed map with an address search can be found at saveoursaluda.org/webmap.
Confluence of the North and South Saluda Rivers.