At SCELP, our goal is to prevent the degradation of South Carolina's water resources by halting pollution and stewarding their availability. We advocate for sustainable surface water and groundwater uses; strive towards conservation and restoration of water quality and aquatic life; and work to advance legal protections for state-of-the art stormwater and floodplain practices.Support Our Work
Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, the landmark law enacted in 1972 in response to the declining state of US waters, including Ohio's Cuyahoga River catching on fire.
Yet fifty years later, water and hazardous chemicals still mix too often, too easily and too predictably in certain ZIP codes. At SCELP, we know that even if pollution and toxic contamination are somewhat localized, we all breathe the same air, drink the same water and live off the same land.
Industrial pollution is still a major problem today simply because major polluters across the nation were allowed to dump in the South and find other sacrifice zones to operate within. Thanks to the early vision and success of SCELP under our founder Jimmy Chandler’s leadership, we were able to force the shutdown of the Safety-Kleen (formerly Laidlaw) Pinewood landfill, the Tyger River incinerator and the Thermal-KEM incinerator in Rock Hill, while also fighting and preventing the creation of mega-dumps in rural Marlboro and Laurens Counties.
And today, we are carrying on Jimmy’s legacy, taking on important cases like challenging DHEC’s authorization to fill Gadsden Creek in Charleston while not giving up on pushing for swift cleanup of the Bramlett site in Greenville’s Southernside community. And we’re advocating for access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water across the state – asking for limits on harmful PFAS chemicals and for protective regulations for water storage tanks.
While we may not see rivers catching on fire anymore, the disproportionate burden of pollution and environmental harm on marginalized communities must remain front and center, if we are truly looking for systemic solutions to increasingly daunting challenges of worsening environmental crises and climate change.
On behalf of multiple homeowner associations, we are challenging the South Carolina Administrative Law Court’s decision to reinstate a septic system permit for a proposed RV park in northern Spartanburg County. Per DHEC standard calculations, more than two million gallons per year of septic effluent - including human waste – would be discharged into the ground on the site, which is adjacent to a creek and thousands of acres of conservation land.
South Carolina’s coastal areas are experiencing increased development pressures, particularly in rural areas, where dense clusters of conventional septic tank systems are often chosen by developers because of lack of access to sewer and low cost. Currently, DHEC does not review septic tank permits for consistency with the Coastal Management Program when they are placed in the coastal zone – despite applying these policies to almost every other type of state environmental permit.
At SCELP, we are working to prevent the degradation of the state’s water resources by halting uses that pollute them and by improving statewide water standards and regulations.
River Preserve is a proposed development, bordering the Reedy River and located in southern Greenville County. We are challenging the Greenville County Planning Commission’s decision to approve the preliminary subdivision proposal on behalf of Citizens for Quality Rural Living.
Access to safe, affordable and reliable drinking water is a basic human right, indispensable to sustaining healthy livelihoods and maintaining people’s dignity. It is also an increasingly urgent environmental protection and justice issue in South Carolina.
Special places require special consideration, and Arabella Farm—a Pickens County wedding venue located along Highway 11—is right in the middle of one of the Upstate's most special natural areas. The area's specialness is not conceptual or abstract. Rather, this area is special because it is utilized extensively by fishermen, hikers, birders and lovers of the outdoors. People in this rural part of the Upstate take land stewardship very seriously, and that is why the ongoing pollution from the event venue must be addressed.