Estate Planning Attorney inConestee, SC

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Securing Your Legacy in South
Carolina

Did you know that one in two U.S. citizens have yet to create a plan for their estate? Just about everyone knows they need to get their affairs in order, but most people procrastinate when it comes to estate planning. It's an uncomfortable subject to think about. After all, nobody wants to ponder their death and what happens to their assets when they pass. However, working with an estate planning lawyer in Conestee, SC, protects you, your loved ones, and your assets, both while you're alive and after you have died. There isn't a perfect time to plan your estate, but there is a right time and that time is now.

We understand that there is no "one-size-fits-all" solution to your estate planning needs. That's why, at CDH Law Firm, we make a concerted effort to speak with our clients personally so that we can create an estate plan that is as unique as they are. Our estate plans are comprehensive, cost-effective, and catered to you. That way, your family is provided if you are incapacitated or pass away.

At the end of the day, our goal is to make sure that every one of our clients leaves our office feeling less stressed and more informed. Peace of mind is valuable currency these days. Why worry about the future of your loved ones when you can use South Carolina law to ensure their stability?

Many of the clients in Conestee that walk through our doors have significant questions that require serious answers. They're filled with doubt, stress, and worry. They're worried about their children, their spouse, their relatives, or all the above. They ask questions like:

  • How much does estate planning cost?
  • What kind of results can I expect?
  • How long will this process take?

If these questions sound familiar, know that you are not alone. At CDH Law Firm, we have worked with hundreds of clients just like you. Sometimes, these clients are unsatisfied with their current estate planning attorney in Conestee. Other times, they have been served with confusing papers or documents that leave them feeling overwhelmed. In either case, clients come to our office knowing they need to manage what is often a sudden, foreign situation.

The good news? We sit down with all new clients for an hour at no extra cost. We do so to get a basic sense of their situation and help steer them in the right direction. That way, they can leave our office feeling a little wiser and a lot better about the future.

Estate Planning Law Conestee, SC
Service Areas

Our firm specializes in several areas of estate planning and family law, including:

  • Estate Planning
  • Last Will and Testament
  • Living Wills
  • Heath Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Wills
  • Irrevocable Trusts
  • Revocable Trusts
  • Retirement Trusts
  • Special Needs Trusts

The CHSA Law
Difference

At CHSA Law, LLC, estate planning is like second nature to us. Having worked hundreds upon hundreds of cases, we have the knowledge and experience to assist with all the estate planning needs that you or your family have.

As our client, you will always work directly with your attorney. We do not pass cases off to paralegals or junior associates. Because your concerns and questions don't end when our office closes, we encourage our clients to contact us at any time.

Because we limit the number of cases we accept, we have the time and resources to truly dedicate ourselves to each of our clients. Unlike some competitors, we care about the outcome of every case because we know that our clients' future depends on it.

 Estate Planning Attorney Conestee, SC The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference
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What Our Clients Say

What is Estate Planning in
Conestee, SC?

The word "estate" might make you think of a sprawling mansion in the French countryside. The truth is, you don't have to be rich to have an estate. In fact, most people already have an estate. An estate comprises the assets that a person owns like cars, bank accounts, real estate, businesses, and other possessions. Everyone's estate is different, but we all have one thing in common: none of us can take our estates with us when we die. When that does eventually happen, you will need legal instructions that state who gets what from your estate in plain terms.That, in a nutshell, is estate planning building a framework in advance that names the organizations or people that should receive your assets after you die. Planning your estate now helps make life much easier for your family down the line.

 Estate Planning Lawyer Conestee, SC
A good estate plan covers more than fiscal assets, however. A comprehensive
estate plan should include the following:
  • If you have children who are minors, instructions as to who will be their guardian when you die.
  • Long-term care insurance if you suffer from an extended injury or illness.
  • Instructions that dictate what happens to you and your financial affairs if you become incapacitated before death.
  • Instructions on the transfer of your business after retirement, incapacity, disability, or death.
  • Instructions on how to provide for loved ones who might need help managing money or who need protection from creditors.
  • Probate and tax avoidance that help minimize court fees, taxes, and legal fees.
  • Planning Medicaid payments.
  • Instructions that help complete or update beneficiary designations.
  • Assist family members who have special needs without disqualifying them from government benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, estate planning isn't just for adults who are approaching retirement age. Estate planning is for everyone. After all, we're all getting older, and none of us know exactly when it will be our time to go.

The Basics of Estate Planning
in Conestee, SC

Although estate planning can be complicated, a well-rounded plan makes a huge difference in what is left to your beneficiaries. Before you start planning your estate, it's important to know a few common topics that may arise as you detail your needs.

1.

Working with a Tax Advisor and Estate Planning
Attorney in Conestee, SC

Working with a veteran estate planning lawyer is a no-brainer, but you should consider working with a tax advisor too. Your attorney's role is to help guide you through the creation of your estate planning documents. Common documents include your will, health care directives, and power of attorney. Your tax advisor will help guide you through tax issues associated with your estate planning needs.

In this relationship, you make the decisions while your attorney and tax advisor help you understand and think through the options you're considering. As a team, they will help you state your wishes clearly while minimizing mistakes and adjusting your plans as they change. Because significant savings can result from thorough, informed planning, you should seriously consider working with a tax advisor in addition to your estate planning attorney.

 Law Firm Conestee, SC
2.

Maximizing
Your Estate

If there were one overriding theme of estate planning, it would be maximizing what you plan to leave behind. Thinking through how each of your assets will be distributed is crucial to your estate. Your decisions may change depending on the type of asset, its size, how old you are, and several other factors. With an attorney on your side, you will gain a thorough understanding of what actions you should take to care for your family while minimizing expenses like taxes and court fees.

Estate Planning Law Conestee, SC
3.

Inheritance, Estate,
and Gift Taxes

One of the biggest parts of maximizing what you're leaving behind is to minimize taxes. Federal taxes on estates and gifts are incredibly high. Both forms of taxes usually have exemption limits, which means you can give up to a specific amount without being taxed. Your lawyer can achieve that by using the gift tax exemption to move assets while you are still alive. This strategy maximizes how much your beneficiaries will receive.

Inheritance taxes are often based on the value of your estate and paid prior to asset distribution to your beneficiaries.

 Estate Planning Attorney Conestee, SC

Choosing the
Executor of Your Will

The executor of your estate plays a key role in your affairs. Their responsibilities include carrying out the terms of your will and seeing the estate settlement process through until the end. Obviously, such a role demands a qualified person. Choosing your executor isn't an easy decision. The person you select should be great at managing money, be savvy financially, and show an ability to be patient. That's because the executor is tasked with:

  • Collecting Your Assets
  • Paying Outstanding Bills
  • Submitting Tax Returns
  • Petitioning the Court for Documents
  • Distributing Assets to Your Beneficiaries
 Estate Planning Lawyer Conestee, SC

If the person that you choose as executor is inexperienced with the estate settlement process, it is recommended that they lean on an estate planning attorney in Conestee, SC for guidance. It should be noted that you may appoint more than a single executor to your estate. This is common when two individuals have complementary personalities or skill sets.

The Benefits of Estate Planning
in Conestee, SC

One of the biggest benefits of planning your estate is the peace of mind it brings to you and your family. With the help of our expert estate planning attorneys, you have the power to protect your assets, privacy, and children's welfare. You can also potentially save money on taxes or even avoid probate. By having your wishes legally documented before death or incapacity, you can minimize any impact on your beneficiaries and take control of your legacy. Without a comprehensive estate plan, you're leaving the future of your loved ones in the hands of the South Carolina court system.

With an estate plan in place, you can plan for incapacity by using a power of attorney or advanced medical directives. Doing so relieves your loved ones of the burden of asking the court for the authority to fulfill your wishes.

At CDH Law Firm, we are committed to helping you prepare for both the expected and unexpected through years of experience and a fierce dedication to our clients. From establishing trusts to designing business succession plans, we are here to fight for you.

At CDH we offer a "Will Package" that includes 4 necessary documents.

If a husband and wife each purchase reciprocating will packages we give a discount. Reciprocating just means the husband names the wife and the wife names the husband. Those four documents are:

  • Last will and testament
  • Healthcare power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney
  • living will

Common Documents Included
in Your Estate Plan

As mentioned above, everyone's estate planning needs will be different. However, most plans include one or more of the following documents:

1.

Will

Your will is an essential piece of documentation and is often considered the cornerstone of a proper estate plan. Generally speaking, your will is a document that dictates the distribution of your assets after your death. Having an iron-clad will is one of the best ways to make sure that your wishes are communicated clearly. As is the case with most estate planning, it is highly recommended that you work with an estate planning attorney in Conestee, SC, to create and update your will.

The contents of a will typically include:

  • Designation of the executor, who is responsible for adhering to the provisions of your will.
  • Designation of beneficiaries the people who will be inheriting your assets
  • Instructions that dictate how and when your beneficiaries will receive assets.
  • Instructions that assign guardianship for any minor children.

Without a will in place, the State of South Carolina will decide how to distribute assets to your beneficiaries. Allowing the state to distribute your assets is often an unfavorable route to take, since the settlement process may not include what you had in mind for your survivors. Having a will drafted that reflects your wishes will prevent such a situation from happening.

 Law Firm Conestee, SC
2.

Living Will

Despite its name, a living will does not instruct your survivors on what assets go where. Also called an advanced directive, your living will allows you to state your end-of-life medical wishes if you have become unable to communicate. This important document provides guidance to family members and doctors and solidifies certain issues like whether you should be resuscitated after an accident.

For example, it's common to direct that palliative care (care to decrease pain and suffering) always be administered if needed. Conversely, you may state that certain measures are not allowed, like CPR.

Estate Planning Law Conestee, SC
3.

Trusts

Traditionally, a trust is used to minimize estate taxes and maximize other benefits as part of a well-rounded estate plan. This fiduciary agreement lets a trustee hold your assets on behalf of your beneficiaries. There are many ways to arrange a trust to specify when and how your assets are distributed.

With a trust in place, your beneficiaries can avoid going to probate. That means they may be able to gain access to your assets quicker than when they are transferred with a standard will. Assets placed in a trust can pass outside of probate, which will save you and your family time, money, and stress.

There are two distinct trust categories that you should be aware of: revocable and irrevocable.

 Estate Planning Attorney Conestee, SC

Revocable Trust:

Also called a living trust, a revocable trust helps assets circumvent probate. With this trust, you can control your assets while you are still alive. These trusts are flexible and may be dissolved at any point in time. This type of trust becomes irrevocable upon your death. Revocable trusts can help you avoid the pitfalls of probate but be aware that they are usually still taxable.

Irrevocable Trust:

This kind of trust transfers assets out of your estate so that they are not taxed and do not have to go through probate. However, once an irrevocable trust has been executed, it may not be altered. That means that once you establish this kind of trust, you lose control of its assets and cannot dissolve the trust. If your primary goal is to avoid taxes on your estate, setting up an irrevocable could be a wise choice.

When drafted with the help of an estate planning lawyer in Conestee, SC, your trust can also:

Protect Your Legacy:

When constructed properly, a trust can protect your estate from your heirs' creditors. This can be a huge relief for beneficiaries who might need to brush up on money management skills.

Privacy and Probate:

Probate records are made available for public consumption. With a trust, you may have the choice of having your assets pass outside of probate court so that they remain private. In the process, you may also save money that you would lose to taxes and court fees.

Control Wealth:

Because you can specify the exact terms of a trust, you have more control over who receives your assets and when they receive them. As an example, you can set up a revocable trust so that your assets are attainable while you're alive. When you pass, remaining assets are distributed, even in complex situations involving children from multiple marriages.

The Top Estate Planning Law Firm in the Lowcountry

If you know that you need to provide for your family and loved ones after your death, it's time to develop your estate plan. With CDH Law Firm by your side, planning your estate doesn't have to be difficult. However, it does need to be accurate and executed exactly to your wishes something that we have been helping clients achieve for years. Don't leave your legacy up to chance contact our office today and secure your future generations.

CONTACT US

Latest News in Conestee, SC

Replacement for crumbling 130-year-old dam holding back toxic waste fully funded

GREENVILLE, S.C. —This week, South Carolina state lawmakers allocated funding to replace a more than a century-old Greenville County dam that officials have called a ticking time bomb.South Carolina will allocate $36 million to replace the Conestee Dam, a 130-year-old dam that's cracking. If it bursts, it will impact hundreds of thousands of lives and will cost $2 billion to clean up."We are appreciative of the funding from the legislature. It's not the entire amount that we requested, but we ...

GREENVILLE, S.C. —

This week, South Carolina state lawmakers allocated funding to replace a more than a century-old Greenville County dam that officials have called a ticking time bomb.

South Carolina will allocate $36 million to replace the Conestee Dam, a 130-year-old dam that's cracking. If it bursts, it will impact hundreds of thousands of lives and will cost $2 billion to clean up.

"We are appreciative of the funding from the legislature. It's not the entire amount that we requested, but we believe with that funding of 36 million plus the commitments we have from local stakeholders, we should be in good shape," said Kelly Lowry, the president of the Lake Conestee Dam Restoration Fund.

Built in the late 1800s, Lowry said the Conestee Dam was only meant to last 50 years. DHEC studies show it's holding back tons of toxic sludge dumped into the Reedy River decades ago by mills and businesses. Some of those chemicals have been proven to cause cancer. If the dam bursts, the chemicals would flow into Lake Greenwood, Greenwood County and Laurens Counties' main drinking water source.

"You know, had the dam burst and all that came downstream, it could have gone all the way to Lake Murray, and we were looking at probably two billion dollars cleanup," said Sen. Billy Garrett.

People who call Greenwood County home, like Bradley Wootten, said they're relieved they don't have to move away.

"I'll feel even better once I see that the governor has signed the bill. And I'll feel ecstatic once I see a bulldozer down there doing some work," he said.

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Greenville County Councilman Butch Kirven said because the state agreed to fund $36 million instead of their original $30 million proposal, it won't take as much help from local groups to reach the about $45 million needed to replace Conestee.

According to Kirven, "And we're not sure yet how it's going to change those ratios, so perhaps we won't need quite as much money from county of Greenville to make the dam a reality."

According to Lowry, the next steps include permitting, finishing up schematic design, and fieldwork. He believed the new dam could be up in about three years. They'll break ground next summer.

$47.5M plan to prevent Lake Conestee Dam from failing awaits state approval

When you visit Conestee Nature Preserve, you can explore miles of trails where you might see wildlife such as deer, beavers, and even river otters — all amid the tranquility of one of the area’s most beloved natural settings.But lurking beneath the waters of Lake Conestee, a little way downstream from the preserve, rests a peril many believe is a disaster waiting to happen: perhaps as much as 3.25 ...

When you visit Conestee Nature Preserve, you can explore miles of trails where you might see wildlife such as deer, beavers, and even river otters — all amid the tranquility of one of the area’s most beloved natural settings.

But lurking beneath the waters of Lake Conestee, a little way downstream from the preserve, rests a peril many believe is a disaster waiting to happen: perhaps as much as 3.25 million cubic yards of sediment containing toxic metals like chromium and mercury, and other harmful chemicals like PCBs and pesticides. Those contaminants, confirmed by sampling conducted 20 years ago according to DHEC, are the result of more than a century of industrial pollution dumped into the Reedy River by textile and other manufacturers, which settled out in the waters held back by Lake Conestee Dam.

“Designed to meet modern engineering standards, the new structure would last well into the next century.” ?Kelly Lowry, DHEC representative

The dam was built more than 130 years ago and has been slowly deteriorating for decades, and fears of the dam’s failure are adding urgency to a push to secure state funding for a $47.5 million plan to build a new dam and prevent disaster.

The new dam would be built 10 feet downstream from the original and be anchored into the bedrock. Designed to meet modern engineering standards, the new structure would last well into the next century, according to Kelly Lowry, a private attorney from Spartanburg representing the state Department of Health and Environmental Control for the project.

Lowry briefed local leaders about plans for a new dam earlier this month at a meeting of Greenville County Council.

Conestee Nature Preserve holds endless wonders for birding enthusiasts

If the dam were to fail, he says the impact could be severe and cost millions — if not billions — of dollars in physical and environmental damage. The contaminated sediment would make its way downriver for years, eventually ending up in Boyd Mill Pond and Lake Greenwood, causing untold human and ecological harm.

DHEC confirms drinking water for an entire region would be contaminated, as Lake Greenwood is the main source for thousands of nearby residents.

Without the dam, Conestee Nature Preserve would also lose a lot of species attracted to the wetlands at the preserve due to water levels.

“If we didn’t have the dam, we’d have a much drier preserve area and we would lose a lot of species that love the wetlands,” says Gene McCall, an attorney working for the Conestee Foundation, which owns Conestee Nature Preserve.

Lowry says there’s no way to know whether such a disaster is imminent.

“It is a 100% complete unknown,” he says.

Page 1 of 33

August 26, 2022

VIA EMAIL, CERTIFIED & FIRST-CLASS MAIL

9214 8969 0099 9790 1422 1316 69

Michael Corley., Executive Director

Bill Bridges, Chairman of the Board of Directors

Conestee Foundation, Inc.

PO Box 9111

Greenville, SC 29604

Subject: Inspection of LAKE CONESTEE DAM, D2876, Greenville County,

Significant Hazard Class

Dear Mr. Corley and Mr. Bridges:

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (the Department/DHEC)

inspected your dam on August 18, 2022 and the report of that inspection is enclosed. Dam Safety

Program staff are available to discuss the results of the inspection with you. A summary of the

inspection report is as follows:

Inspection Summary

Overall Rating: Poor

Repair Activities Requiring a Permit and Prompt Resolution

• Engage a professional engineer to evaluate the penstock and to develop a plan for any

necessary repairs pursuant to their direction

Repair Activities Requiring a Permit and Long-Term Resolution

• Due to the continued movement of fine sediments which may potentially contain hazardous

constituents, a repair plan should be developed to address and control the seepage through

the dam.

Monitoring and Maintenance Activities NOT Requiring a Permit

• Monitor the dam in accordance with the EAP provided by the LCF and Kleinschmidt and

submit any documentation to the Department after high flow events or an inspection that is

performed in response to a seismic event.

• Implement the Kleinschmidt’s recommendation for periodic application of herbicides to the

water retaining structures to control vegetative growth on the structures that otherwise

would accelerate the deterioration of masonry and concrete. Consult with a professional for

Page 2 of 33

a herbicide that is labeled safe for aquatic use. It is noted that herbicide has recently been

applied to the dam.

• Routinely monitor for the accumulation of debris on the crest of the spillway and buildup on

the upstream side of the dam and safely remove as necessary.

• Visually monitor and document seepage and leakage through the dam. Please provide this

documentation periodically to the Department and at the next routine preliminary

inspection. If there is an increase in the amount of flow due to seepage, notify the

Department immediately.

• Perform weekly visual monitoring, and photographically document, the leakage around the

wood bulkhead over the penstock opening. Please provide a weekly report to me of the

findings via email.

Your dam is currently a Significant Hazard dam and its overall condition was assessed as “Poor”. This

rating, as established by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the National Inventory of Dams,

means “a dam safety deficiency is recognized for loading conditions, which may realistically occur.

Remedial action is necessary. A POOR condition is used when uncertainties exist as to critical analysis

parameters, which identify a potential dam safety deficiency. Further investigations and studies are

necessary.”

The Department requests the submission of a plan of action regarding the penstock flows no

later than COB September 16, 2022.

Repair activities denote significant deficiencies with the dam and require the involvement of a

Professional Engineer licensed to practice engineering in South Carolina. Your engineer should

prepare and submit a permit application to the Department for the proposed repair work. No

action can be taken to repair the dam until you have received a Department-issued permit; however,

in case of an emergency, where the owner finds repairs are necessary to safeguard life or property,

repairs may begin immediately but you shall immediately notify the department of the proposed

repair and work being undertaken. The Department requests the submission of a Permit

Application no later than December 30, 2022 to address the repair activities requiring prompt

resolution. This submission should also address and provide for a timeline regarding the

repair activities identified for long term resolution.

Shouldyou failto fulfill the actions detailed within the Preliminary Inspection report, and since the

condition of your dam has been determined to be unsafe and a danger to life or property, this letter

serves as courtesy notification that the Department is prepared toissue an Inspection and Repair

Order pursuant to S.C. Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act, S.C. Code Ann. § 49-11-110, et seq. and

Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act Regulations, 9 S.C. Code Ann. Regs 72-1 et seq.

Maintenance activities should be initiated immediately, if you have not already done so, and should

be completed as soon as possible. The involvement of a Professional Engineer is not required for

maintenance activities. Photographs can be submitted to the Department as confirmation that

these maintenance items have been addressed; alternatively, the Department can be contacted to

visit the dam and review the completed maintenance work.

As the owner of a regulated dam, it is your responsibility to routinely monitor the dam for any

deterioration of the dam which may lead to dam failure. Monitoring activities should be initiated

Page 3 of 33

immediately if you have not already done so and should continue until the Department determines

that conditions at the dam no longer pose a threat to life or property. Please notify the Department

if you notice any change in the area(s) being monitored.

In closing, failure to maintain the dam in a safe condition is a violation of the SC Dams and

Reservoirs Safety Act, S.C. Code Ann. 49-11-110, et seq., (2008). Your voluntary cooperation is

requested; however, failure to comply may result in the Department issuing an “Inspection and

Repair Order” and/or a “Maintenance Order.” The consequences of non-compliance with a

department-issued order may include the assessment of civil penalties pursuant to, S.C. Code Ann.

49-11-110, et seq. (2008) and Regulation 72-1, et seq. (2012).Additionally, at any time should the risk

of dam failure be deemed imminent, the Department has authority under section 49-11-190 of the

S.C. Dams and Reservoir Safety Act to issue an Emergency Order demanding remedial measures be

undertaken by the dam owner to protect life and property. If the owner fails to do so, the

Department my exercise its authority to implement remedial measures when the owner is unable or

unwilling to do so.

Please submit all documents/correspondence via email or to:

Bureau of Water – Dam Safety Program

Attn: Chuck Owens

2600 Bull Street

Columbia, SC 29201

Please let us know if you have any questions and feel free to contact me anytime at (864) 561-1395

or by email at Owensc2@dhec.sc.gov.

Sincerely,

Chuck Owens

Dam Safety Regional Engineering Associate

cc (via email): Jill Stewart, PE, Dam Safety Program, BOW

John McCain, PE, Dam Safety Program, BOW

But the risk is real, as DHEC rated the dam “poor” with “numerous active seeps and deterioration” in 2022.

Funding for the dam project was approved this session by the state House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, but the Senate Finance Committee has yet to vote on the matter.

In 2022, $3 million was allotted from the budget to perform a study by the Kleinschmidt Group to define the problem and recommend solutions for the dam. That money is being used for initial planning but is insufficient to begin construction.

“The $3 million that we got last year is being used right now to create the schematic design, do all the footwork that has to happen before including qualifying contractors who would be doing the actual work,” Lowry says.

Fix for leaking, 131-year-old Conestee Dam may be closer than ever. Here's what to know.

Tim CarlinPores in the 131-year-old Conestee dam have begun seeping potentially hazardous sediment downstream toward Lake Greenwood, a source of drinking water for residents in other counties.And although the masonry dam has withstood the test of time, the Conestee Nature Preserve and Foundation has long called for help implementing a solution.But through a renewed effort by ...

Tim Carlin

Pores in the 131-year-old Conestee dam have begun seeping potentially hazardous sediment downstream toward Lake Greenwood, a source of drinking water for residents in other counties.

And although the masonry dam has withstood the test of time, the Conestee Nature Preserve and Foundation has long called for help implementing a solution.

But through a renewed effort by the nature preserve, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and community stakeholders both up and downstream, plans to build a replacement dam about 10 feet from the current structure could soon become a reality.

"We're definitely excited that we appear to be moving, literally and figuratively, toward a concrete solution," said Gene McCall, an attorney for the Conestee Nature Preserve and Foundation.

Here's when toxic materials were discovered behind Lake Conestee Dam

Twenty years ago, toxic materials were first discovered within the sediment that had built up behind the dam, according to DHEC's website. The sediment had been building up since the dam was first built in 1892.

Before environmental protections like the Clean Water Act were put into place, companies and area textile mills used the Reedy River to get rid of toxic materials, allowing those toxins to attach themselves to the river's sediment, said Spartanburg-based environmental lawyer Kelly D.H. Lowry.

After the toxic materials were discovered, the Conestee Foundation partnered with DHEC to create what is called a voluntary cleanup contract.

According to DHEC, the contract did two things:

The contract said the foundation should allow cleaner sediments to collect and cover the older more contaminated ones. It also said the dam should remain in place to prevent the contaminated sediments from migrating downstream.

Over the years, DHEC continued to monitor the dam, issuing its most recent

That report rated the dam's condition as poor, and encouraged the development of a repair plan to "to address and control the seepage through the dam."

Also in 2022, DHEC received $3 million from the state budget to address long-term solutions to the dam's deterioration. The organization then approached Lowry last summer to oversee the spending of those funds.

Lowry said he asked the Kleinschmidt Group, an engineering consulting firm that had previously created a solutions report for the Conestee Foundation in 2019, to again determine the best path forward.

Consultants came to the same conclusion as before: the best path forward is to leave the current dam in place and build a concrete replacement about 10 feet downstream.

This plan was chosen, Lowry said because there is no feasible way to decontaminate the sediment without causing spillover.

With a new, concrete dam placed a bit further downstream, sediments can continue to seep through the older dam without impacting water quality for downstream residents.

Previous Reporting:'Trash jam' grows at Lake Conestee dam after recent flooding

'We're gambling every day:'Lake Conestee dam remains a flooding and environmental risk

Here's how much fixing Lake Conestee Dam will cost

But the project comes with a price tag of nearly $47.5 million.

Since a dam failure could create "significant harm" across multiple counties, Lowry presented the funding need to the South Carolina House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee, which is currently building the state's budget for the next fiscal year.

The committee included funding for a new dam in its budget proviso that was recently presented for consideration on the House floor.

During a presentation before Greenville County Council's committee of the whole on Tuesday, March 7, Lowry said the state might ask for local stakeholders — like the city and county — to help contribute funds to the repair project, but no formal requests have been made yet.

And while there is a way to go before any money is officially allocated, Lowry said area stakeholders are motivated and hopeful.

"There's abundant positive momentum," Lowry told The Greenville News.

If funding is approved by the state, work could begin as early as September, Lowry said. Kleinschmidt is currently drafting schematics for a new dam, which would take about three years to construct, Lowry said.

He expressed gratitude toward both the legislature and area stakeholders for coming together to create progress.

"This is the year for this project to succeed," Lowry said.

Tim Carlin covers county government, growth and development for The Greenville News. Follow him on Twitter@timcarlin_, and get in touch with him atTCarlin@gannett.com.

Conestee Nature Preserve raising funds for new dam

Greenville, Laurens counties, South Carolina – The Reedy River flows 65 miles from its origins near Travelers Rest, through the popular Falls Park in downtown Greenville and eventually through western Laurens County and into Lake Greenwood. The river and its wetlands are also important to the Conestee Nature Preserve, a non-profit which includes more than 400 acres of trails and wildlife habitat about seven miles south of downtown Greenville.Photos: Tara Brown EdwardsHowever, in addition to numerous trai...

Greenville, Laurens counties, South Carolina – The Reedy River flows 65 miles from its origins near Travelers Rest, through the popular Falls Park in downtown Greenville and eventually through western Laurens County and into Lake Greenwood. The river and its wetlands are also important to the Conestee Nature Preserve, a non-profit which includes more than 400 acres of trails and wildlife habitat about seven miles south of downtown Greenville.

Photos: Tara Brown Edwards

However, in addition to numerous trails, platforms for bird watchers, an adjacent City of Greenville park and dog park, the Conestee property also includes the 130-year-old Lake Conestee Dam, and concerns have resurfaced recently about the environmental damage that could occur if the historic, stone masonry dam fails.

At issue is not the flow of water over the crest of the dam, which occurs occasionally, but rather decades worth of toxins and waste within the sediment at the base of the dam, explained Conestee Nature Preserve Operations Director Erin Knight.

Not a new problem

Built in the late 1880s to early 1890s, the dam quickly became a stopping point for City of Greenville waste and the numerous textile mills built upstream.

This isn’t a new problem, Knight said, and for several years the non-profit board and staff have sought funding while working with engineers and DHEC to develop an affordable solution.

“When Conestee Nature Preserve was founded by a small nonprofit with a vision of preserving wildlife habitat and providing public access to a natural space near the heart of urban Greenville, the organization also inherited a problem of historical contamination and an aging dam,” Knight said in a release issued Friday to The Laurens County Advertiser. “Studies over the years determined that the contaminants pose no threat as long as they, and the newer sediments above them holding them in place, remain undisturbed. That fits perfectly with the mission and vision of Conestee Nature Preserve, but it means the dam must remain in place.”

While Conestee Nature Preserve board and staff members worked to raise funds, they have also met with engineers and DHEC officials who regularly test the water and nearby soils and the dam structure.

The historic dam is one of the few stone masonry structures regulated under the South Carolina Dams and Reservoir Safety Act, explained DHEC Spokesperson Ron Aiken, and DHEC staff are aware of its problems.

“Sampling that was conducted 20 years ago detected the presence of metals, pesticides and, most prevalent, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (or PAHs) within the sediment at concentrations above EPA levels acceptable for unrestricted use,” Aiken said. “DHEC staff have determined failure of the dam would likely cause interruption of use or service based on a temporary halt in withdrawal of water from drinking water intakes in Lake Greenwood due to the risk of impacts from the contaminated sediments.”

Finding funding

The Conestee Nature Preserve has an agreement with DHEC to maintain the dam to prevent the release of the contaminated sediments, Aiken said; however, DHEC has realized Conestee lacks the resources to carry out this responsibility and has been taking part in meetings with local leaders and elected officials to help Conestee address the needed repairs.

Funds finally came through last summer, when the state’s budget included in its Special Appropriations $3 million for the Conestee Dam Emergency Mitigation for fiscal year 2023. The funds are being managed by DHEC until the time comes that the work can get underway, Knight said.

“With $3 million in hand and a clear plan to secure all necessary funds in 2023, Conestee Nature Preserve has a team of consultants and engineers, a DHEC-appointed trustee and meets regularly with regional stakeholders,” Knight said.

Others in these regular talks include ReWa, which is a neighbor to the Conestee property, officials from Greenville, Greenwood and Laurens counties, DHEC, lead and secondary engineering firms, Duke Energy and Greenville city and county staff.

A project on this scale cannot be completed with $3 million, however, so Knight said meetings continue as the non-profit seeks additional funding through grants, regional stakeholders such as the City of Greenville and Greenville County, corporations and the State of South Carolina.

“Together these should fund the project in full,” Knight said, “and Conestee Nature Preserve is on the verge of resolution.”

Local impact

Locally, Laurens County Water and Sewer Executive Director Jeff Field has been part of some of those talks, and he said he is encouraged that the project has attracted enough attention to begin to bring in funds. While Field has not heard a specific amount, he feels certain that Conestee Nature Preserve board and staff will be able to pull the needed funding from the state and Greenville area stakeholders.

“DHEC has made it a priority and when you have the head state agency start getting the support of elected officials, it brings results,” Field said. “The $3 million was a terrific first step.”

DHEC and EPA have done multiple sediment and dam structure studies and reported that currently the toxic sludge appears to be well encapsulated within the good sediment, Field said, and current testing shows the water downstream near Laurens County is safe. An algae bloom more than 20 years ago resulted in better regulations which have made a difference in the waters entering Lake Greenwood.

“There’s always a lot of eyes on the Reedy and the Saluda, and we have been part of those groups for some time,” Field said. “But because of the urgency of the Conestee Dam, our part in the stakeholders’ meetings have increased. I think it has the momentum to get this done.”

Right now the water in Lake Greenwood is in great shape, Field said, and with about 45 miles between the dam and Lake Greenwood, no one can speculate exactly what the negative impact would be here if the dam were to break.

“We’re all pushing as much as we can for this, and I want to see these dollars committed,” Field said. “I hope this coalition stays together and stays till the end.”

At the Conestee Nature Preserve, Knight agrees.

“Solving problems as complex as this one takes time,” Knight said, “but thanks to all these partners and to much public support, Conestee Nature Preserve is on the verge of resolution.”

This story originally ran Page 1 in the Jan. 25, 2023 issue of The Laurens County Advertiser.

SC House, Senate debate funding full replacement of 130-year-old dam holding back toxic chemicals

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. —The South Carolina House and Senate are now debating how much they should contribute to replacing a more than a century-old dam in Greenville County, just barely holding back tons of toxic chemicals.Officials said this is the closest state and local government have ever been to replacing the Conestee Dam.At this point, the South Carolina House has approved the full amount to replace Conestee Dam: $47.5 million. The Senate has approved $30 million. Whatever comes out of conf...

GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. —

The South Carolina House and Senate are now debating how much they should contribute to replacing a more than a century-old dam in Greenville County, just barely holding back tons of toxic chemicals.

Officials said this is the closest state and local government have ever been to replacing the Conestee Dam.

At this point, the South Carolina House has approved the full amount to replace Conestee Dam: $47.5 million. The Senate has approved $30 million. Whatever comes out of conference committee in the coming days could mean the difference between a new dam and billions of dollars worth of damage and pollution.

According to Kelly Lowry, the Conestee trustee, the dam has been a source of controversy for years.

"The dam as you see it there is over 130 years old. Its lifespan was probably supposed to be about 50," he said. "So, it's well past its engineered lifespan. And there's a lot of worry that it could fail sometime soon. We don't know. But the consequence of failure would be significant."

Significant as in if it fails, engineering and DHEC studies show it could cause billions of dollars worth of damage and release chemicals like PAHs (cancer-causing chemicals made from burning oil and coal) into Lake Greenwood. The lake is the main source of drinking water for Greenwood and Laurens counties.

Mills and businesses along the river dumped toxic waste into the Reedy River for years before the Clean Water Act. It settled into sediment behind the now-crumbling dam.

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"We could have an earthquake and it could take it out tomorrow," said SC Sen. Billy Garrett.

Garrett has lobbied for this money for years and helped get $3 million to study how to solve the problem last year.

The answer: Replace the dam for $47.5 million.

The House approved that amount. The Senate approved $30 million.

Reporter: "Why 30 million instead of 47.5 million?"

Garrett: "It's a negotiation tool. Again, the machinations that goes on between the House and Senate come budget time, it's like hamburger, you know? It's great when it comes out finally, but while it's being made it's pretty rough to look at."

The conference committee should begin in a week and a half, according to Lowry. If they don't approve the whole amount, the remainder may fall to local stakeholders.

We reached out to the local stakeholders, and at this point, most both up and downstream are still considering.

Greenville County has committed to helping, if need be, but they say the approval process for local funds are much slower than the state.

For now, Lowry says engineers will continue planning. They can break ground after getting permit approval. It should take three years to build.

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