The Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is charged with maintaining nine dams in Greenville County. These dams help reduce flooding and sedimentation in the county. The property owners at the time of construction granted easements to access the dams for operation and maintenance purposes in perpetuity. This includes the dams themselves, the spillways, and all other related structures.

Generally, the easements allow detention of water on a permanent basis at the elevation of the sediment pool (or whatever elevation is deemed safe for the dam construction), and on a temporary basis up to, over and through the elevation of the top of the dam. Impoundment easements follow the same topographic contour line matching the elevation of the top of the dam, which can impact permanent building construction below this line on the upstream side of any dam for the safety of lives and property. The easement also includes the auxiliary spillway which is constructed around the side of the dam, and the plunge pool, which is a small pool on the downstream side of the dam. These areas can also become flooded. The easements are on file in the Greenville County Registrar of Deeds office.

The highlighted area on the county GIS maps (designated as an Impoundment Easement) encompasses the area below the 'top of dam' elevation upstream of the dam, and also includes the dam, auxiliary spillway, and the plunge pool on the downstream side of the dam. All delineations are approximate and have not been surveyed. Click here to access the county GIS system.

This general description is not intended to replace, amend or in any other way change the terms of the easements themselves. If you have any questions about the impact of the easement on a specific parcel, you should consult the appropriate expert of your choice.


History of Watershed Dams in SC

Recognizing that serious problems of water management resulting from erosion, floodwater, or sediment damages were arising in the watersheds of the rivers and streams of the state of South Carolina, the SC legislature established the Watershed District Law, SC Code of Laws-Title 48-Chapter 11-Watershed Conservation Districts. Watershed conservation districts were established as provided in that chapter within one or more soil and water conservation districts to develop and execute plans and programs relating to a phase of the control or prevention of soil erosion or flooding; the conservation, protection, improvement, development, or utilization of soil and water resources; stormwater management; or the disposal of water. This authority applied, but is not limited to, the planning and carrying out of works of improvement for the foregoing purposes which may be considered by the United States Secretary of Agriculture. In other words: Watershed Districts were created to control flooding and soil erosion in their jurisdiction.

The Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act of 1954, Public Law 83-566, also known simply as PL-566, authorized the Secretary of Agriculture to assist local units of government to provide protection from flooding during major storm events within sub-basins of identified watersheds, within our major river systems. Erosion, floodwater, and sediment damages in the watersheds of the rivers and streams of the United States, causing loss of life and damage to property, constitute a menace to the national welfare; and it is the sense of Congress that the Federal Government should cooperate with States and their political subdivisions, soil or water conservation districts, flood prevention or control districts, and other local public agencies for the purpose of preventing such damages, of furthering the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water, and the conservation and utilization of land and thereby of preserving, protecting, and improving the Nation's waterways. In other words: Areas of heavy flooding were identified, a survey was done, and funding was requested under PL-566 to construct a series of dams in the watershed for the purpose of flood control. In South Carolina, the USDA-NRCS provided technical and design information, a local sponsor (South Tyger River Watershed Conservation District and the Greenville Soil and Water Conservation District) gained and held the easements ( as well as met the actual operation and maintenance requirements), and the SCDNR provides information on the organization and function of these watersheds. The dams were created for flood control!! The primary spillways are designed to slowly release water to decrease the chances of a downstream flood event. In order to make this possible, the local sponsor gained easements up to the proposed top of dam elevation. This elevation provides the necessary storage area to detain excess stormwater. These easements were legally recorded in the Greenville County RMC office. The validity of the easements has been upheld in the SC Supreme Court Case 96-CP-23-1538. The sponsor has the responsibility to maintain these dams to allow for safe and efficient operation. The maintenance consists of but is not limited to: mowing vegetation on the dams, replacing or repairing damaged primary spillway hardware, ensuring that the auxiliary spillway is free of obstructions, and performing periodic inspections of the dams.

District Policy
How a Watershed Dam Works