The South Carolina Environmental Law Project

Lawyers for the Wild Side of South Carolina

Current SCELP Cases

Surface Water Withdrawal Act

Surface Water Withdrawal Act

SCELP served a case on September 12th that requests that DHEC overturn the parts of the Surface Water Withdrawal Act that allow industrial farms to withdraw large amounts of water entirely unfettered by a regulating permitting process. This means that while other landowners are losing their long standing water rights, industrial agriculture operations are being granted far superior rights with fewer restrictions, despite their use of extreme amounts of water.

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Charlotte Sludge Case

DHEC recently granted the City of Charlotte a permit to dump its sewage sludge across thousands of acres of agricultural fields in Chester, Fairfield, Lancaster and York Counties. “Sludge” is the solid byproduct of wastewater treatment, and it contains basically everything that finds its way into Charlotte’s sewer system, including: pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, phosphorous, nitrates, and chemical pollutants. The sludge is applied to these fields as fertilizer, though Charlotte’s method of application – one mass spreading on top of the ground – is entirely incompatible with sound agricultural practice.

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Sewage Sludge Land Application

On behalf of two farmers in Chester County, SCELP has filed a challenge to a DHEC permit authorizing the City of Charlotte to spread its sewage sludge on 4 South Carolina Counties.

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Seabrook Inlet Relocation

The Seabrook Island POA proposes to relocate the Inlet by blocking the present Inlet with a wall of sand and excavating a new inlet through Captain Sam’s Spit. In particular, bull dozers would build a 2,250' long x 150'-200' wide x 10' tall wall of sand on the oceanfront beach between Kiawah Island and Seabrook Island, blocking the present location of Captain Sam’s Inlet. At the same time, bulldozers would dig a 15' deep ditch through Captain Sam’s Spit, connecting the Atlantic Ocean and the Kiawah River. This would serve as the new inlet. The purpose of the project is stated as erosion control on Seabrook Island.

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Pawleys Island Groin

We are challenging a permit issued to Georgetown County for construction of a groin on the south end of Pawleys Island. Groins are an outdated tool for addressing coastal erosion and are universally disfavored in the scientific community because of their known negative impacts on downdrift beaches. We are representing the Sierra Club, the League of Women Voters of Georgetown County, and the Coastal Conservation League in challenging this permit.

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New Cruise Ship Terminal

The S.C. State Ports Authority is seeking to construct a new, expanded cruise ship terminal at Union Pier in the heart of the historic district of downtown Charleston. On behalf of a coalition of community groups, SCELP filed a challenge to the state permit that authorizes construction of the new terminal in the Administrative Law Court and the case was assigned to Chief Administrative Law Judge Tripp Anderson.

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Angel Oak

The Angel Oak was putting out leaves and dropping acorns for a thousand years before Columbus first stepped on shore. It is the oldest tree east of the Rocky Mountains. For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting the Tree, its grand statute is difficult to comprehend. The main trunk is over 25.5 feet in diameter. Extending out from this trunk are several main branches that are themselves the size of other ancient live oak trees. The branches expand out and sag to the ground in many spots under their own great weight. In total, the tree spreads out over 17,100 square feet of earth.

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Jasper Station

Jasper Station, LLC, owns approximately 80.0 acres in Jasper County, of which 30.0 acres are “isolated” wetlands. Because the wetlands are deemed “isolated” by the Corps of Engineers, no Clean Water Act Section 404 permit is required. However, a coastal zone consistency certification is required before filling in the 30.0 acres of isolated wetlands as part of Jasper Station’s stormwater permit.

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Marlboro County Landfill

MRR Sandhills, LLC, proposes to build a municipal solid waste landfill on the North Carolina border in Marlboro County. DHEC has issued two preliminary approvals: (1) demonstration of need; and (2) consistency with the county solid waste plan.

Marlboro County has appealed both of these approvals and they are pending in the Administrative Law Court. We filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Citizens for Marlboro County. Marlboro County ships its garbage to the Lee County Landfill and argues that there is no need for this landfill, and we are supporting the County’s argument.

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Greenville Water Systems

Greenville Water System (GWS) owns and operates two 30-inch raw water transmission mains for the purpose of transporting raw water from the Table Rock Reservoir in the South Saluda River to the GWS treatment plant in northern Greenville County. GWS proposes to construct an additional 7.8 mile, 42-inch raw water transmission main from the Table Rock Reservoir in Pickens County. The proposed construction route will cross the South Saluda River, Duck Creek, Matthews Creek, and numerous tributaries to the South Saluda River and Duck Creek for a total of at least 26 total river crossings. The proposed route will also cross three wetland areas associated with Matthews Creek. The construction of the project, according to GWS, will result in the filling of 0.332 acres of wetland and 0.2451 acres of open water. DHEC issued a water quality certification and permit for construction in navigable waters for the project.

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Litchfield Carolina Bay

Smith Land Company purchased a lot near Litchfield Country Club in Georgetown County. Plats for the lot show a portion of the lot as under water, and Smith Land Company obtained a wetland delineation saying that other portions of the lot were wetlands. The pond and wetlands are part of a Carolina Bay, a unique wetland formation. After deciding that the wetlands and pond are “isolated” and not subject to the jurisdiction of the Corps of Engineers, Smith filled in the wetlands and pond.

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Inlet Point

In the early 1990s, we represented the Georgetown County League of Women Voters in the appeal of a permit for 22 docks for a development at the south tip of Litchfield Beach. We settled the case for reduction to 11 docks and a conservation easement over property south of the development. John L. Irvin #7, LLC, filed this current action claiming ownership of the property covered by our conservation easement. The associations are residents of the development and an adjoining development. We have been allowed to intervene on behalf of the League and the associations.

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Arcadia Lakes

Roper Pond, LLC, owns a 15-acre tract on Trenholm Road in Richland County, bordering on the Town of Arcadia Lakes. Roper Pond proposes a high density apartment complex on the tract. The tract includes a nice shallow pond full of lily pads that is part of the Gills Creek watershed and runs through Arcadia Lakes. The development would excavate the pond to convert it to a stormwater detention pond. DHEC issued a stormwater permit to the developer and we appealed.

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Eagle Landfill

MRR Highway 92, LLC was granted a permit to construct a construction and demolition debris (C & D) landfill in Laurens County. We appealed the permit for a citizens group known as EAGLE.

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York Landfill

C & D Management Company applied for and obtained a permit to construct a construction and demolition waste landfill in the City of Rock Hill. York County and a local resident, Barbara Polk, appealed. Barbara Polk later withdrew as a party and the Nazareth Baptist Church was allowed to intervene to replace Ms. Polk.

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Deerfield - Storm Water & Wetlands

Deertrack Golf, Inc., owns a golf course in a mature Surfside Beach development known as Deerfield Plantation. Deertrack has entered into a contract to sell the golf course property to Bill Clark Homes. Bill Clark proposes to develop 287 lots on half of the golf course property (the other half will be developed later). The POA's members are homeowners in a single-family home development that is surrounded by the golf course property. Most of the homes border the golf course. There is a long history of problems with flooding, and it appears that both the golf course and the residential development were built on former wetlands. DHEC/OCRM issued a storm water permit and coastal zone consistency certification for the development project. We have appealed for the POA.

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Kiawah Island Revetment

Kiawah Development Partners (KDP) applied for a permit for a 2,750-foot revetment on the Kiawah River at the south end of Kiawah Island. The purpose of the revetment would be to stop erosion and to stabilize the shoreline so that KDP can build a road to develop the narrow spit of land known as Captain Sam’s Spit.

OCRM denied most of the request, allowing only a 270-foot revetment along the edge of the parking lot at Beachwalker Park, the only public access on Kiawah. KDP appealed, and we appealed the 270' permit.

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Chem Nuclear Landfill

This is the on-going appeal of the renewal license for the low level radioactive waste landfill near Barnwell. The Chem Nuclear landfill has a convoluted history and is a symbol of SC’s status as the nation’s dumping ground. Opened in 1971, it is one of three low-level radioactive waste landfills in the country. It was limited to regional use and slated for closure in 1992, but the closure deadline was extended twice by former Governor Carroll Campbell, and then former Governor David Beasley scrapped the planned closure and opened the facility to the entire nation.

Under a law promoted by former Governor Jim Hodges, it is now limited to waste from the Atlantic Compact states of New Jersey and Connecticut, and a limited amount from other states.

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Myrtle Trace

In 1990 when Myrtle Trace, a community located near Conway, was developed, a buffer area was set aside as a nature preserve and mitigation for wetlands filled by the developer, International Paper (IP). This land also served as a buffer area between the Myrtle Trace residential development and the Conway Hospital complex. The property was later sold to another developer, Hospital Land Partners Realty, who proposed to develop the 8.5 acre tract of land that was set aside by constructing an assisted living facility. SCELP assisted a neighborhood group in overturning this permit and we were successful. DHEC and the Court of Common Pleas ruled that the 1990 set-aside of the land was binding and denied the requested permits.

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