Upper Saluda Watershed Program for Sediment

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, business, and industry in the Upstate. Headwaters of the Saluda River originate in the Blue Ridge Mountains at the North Carolina-South Carolina state line and descend into the Foothills/Piedmont region where the three main tributaries (the North, Middle, and South Saluda Rivers) join and flow south to Saluda Lake.

The North and South Saluda Rivers provide some of the highest quality drinking water in the country and supply water to over a half million customers in the greater Greenville area. Downstream and just five miles west of downtown Greenville, Saluda Lake supplies water to over 80,000 customers in the Easley area. The Upper Saluda Watershed also provides outstanding recreational opportunities to thousands of Upstate residents and visitors including the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area and Table Rock, Ceasars Head, and Jones Gap State Parks. The Upper Saludas support a rich diversity of aquatic life and are home to a third of the state's freshwater fish species.

Sediment is a significant problem in Saluda Lake and for many streams and rivers in the Upper Saluda Watershed. Sediment alters the flow of water, decreases water depth, and destabilizes streambanks. Streambank erosion causes trees to collapse into streams and rivers, further destabilizing channel banks and creating in-stream woody debris jams. Water quality is impaired, aquatic habitat is degraded, recreational use is diminished, and a drinking water source is impacted due to excess sedimentation in the Upper Saluda Watershed. Between 2011 and 2012, approximately 366,600 cubic yards of sediment were dredged from Saluda Lake at a cost of over seven million dollars. Since then, the lake has filled in with sediment once again. Sediment also carries pollutants including bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, nutrients from fertilizer, and other contaminants such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). 

Save Our Saluda's Upper Saluda Watershed Implementation Program for Sediment addresses the problem head-on at the source! 

In 2016, Save Our Saluda began building a partnership of stakeholder organizations to develop watershed protection plans and to raise money for implementation projects to address primary sources of sediment pollution in the watershed. Together with partners we completed two Watershed-Based Plans (WBPs): one for the North Saluda Watershed and one for the South Saluda and Middle Saluda Watersheds, with funding from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control's Nonpoint Source Management Program. In 2019, Save Our Saluda was awarded our first 319 implementation grant from SCDHEC with matching funding from partners. Save our Saluda recently received a second 319 implementation grant award from SCDHEC to protect water quality in the Upper Saluda Watershed. The partnership has grown to twenty three cooperating organizations. 

The goal of Save Our Saluda'a 319 program is to reduce sediment runoff to the North and South Saluda Rivers and Saluda Lake through implementation of agricultural and rural Best Management Practices (BMPs) for soil conservation. BMPs are selected in accordance with the each of the WBPs, North Saluda River – Saluda Lake WBP and South Saluda River WBP, to help reduce downstream sedimentation rates, improve water quality and in-stream habitat conditions, and decrease river and lake turbidity levels. Save Our Saluda identifies and develops projects according to priority areas and practices outlined in the plans. Projects 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 purchased through the first 319 grant and is available for lease to area farmers to help facilitate regenerative farming practices. 

Through the 319 grants and with additional financial support from cooperating partners, Save Our Saluda provides cost share assistance to farmers and landowners within the Upper Saluda Watershed for soil conservation projects, including: 

  • Cover Crops
  • Tillage Management
  • Vegetated Riparian Buffers
  • Field Borders/Filter Strips
  • Culvert and Ditch Stabilization
  • Farm Road Stabilization
  • Sediment Basins
  • Streambank Stabilization
  • Stream Crossings
  • Livestock Fencing and Watering
  • Heavy Use Area Stabilization

Participation in the program is voluntary and based on eligibility. For more information or to receive an application, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or (864) 270-7629.

To determine whether your property is in the Upper Saluda Watershed, please see map below or visit our online interactive map, turn on the Project Areas data layer, and enter your address in the Address Search box. 



Funding for this cooperative project is 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 with additional financial support from Easley Combined Utilities, Trees Upstate, Duke Energy, Renewable Water Resources, MetroConnects, Greenville County/Greenville Soil and Water Conservation District, and through additional partner support.