Septic tanks are an invisible source of coastal pollution in the Lowcountry. Two environmental groups are requesting a “temporary pause” on some new septic tanks in South Carolina’s coastal counties, at least until the state adopts a permit process more in step with rising seas and increasing storms.
At a Sept. 8 hearing, the Charleston Waterkeeper and Coastal Conservation League requested a brief ban on septic tank approvals in Charleston County Circuit Court. This proposed ban only pertains to large-scale housing developments, as well as homes within 200 feet of state waters in coastal counties. Single-family homes replacing an existing tank, for example, would likely not be impacted.
“When I say ‘this is a crisis,’ I’m not exaggerating,” said attorney Leslie Lenhardt, explaining the threats posed by densely clustered septic tanks near Lowcountry waterways. Lenhardt is a senior managing attorney for the South Carolina Environmental Law Project. She represents the two environmental groups.