Criminal Defense Attorney inConestee, SC

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CDH Law Firm: Giving Hope to
Criminal Defense Clients in
Conestee, SC

Getting charged with a crime in Conestee can be a traumatic experience. Even "petty" crimes can cause an individual's life to fall apart professionally and personally. Spending time in jail is bad enough, but the ramifications of a criminal record run deep, resulting in loss of employment, loss of friends, and even family. For many people, having a zealous criminal defense attorney in Conestee, SC, to defend their rights is the only shot they have of living a normal life.

That's why, if you have been charged with a crime, you need the help of a veteran criminal defense lawyer early in the legal process. That's where CDH Law Firm comes in to give you or your loved one hope when you need it the most.

Our criminal defense law firm was founded to help people just like you - hardworking men and women who are looking at diminished employment opportunities and a possible lifetime of embarrassment. But with our team of experts fighting by your side, you have a much better chance of maintaining your freedom and living a normal, productive life. When it comes to criminal law in Conestee, we've seen it all. With decades of combined experience, there is no case too complicated or severe for us to handle, from common DUI charges to complicated cases involving juvenile crimes. Unlike some of our competition, we prioritize personalized service and cutting-edge criminal defense strategies to effectively represent our clients.

Criminal Defense Attorney Conestee, SC

Clients rank CHSA Law, LLC as the top choice for Conestee criminal defense because we provide:

  • One-on-One Counsel
  • Education on the Conestee Legal Process and Its Risks
  • Ardent, Effective Representation
  • Commitment to Our Clients and Defending Their Rights
  • Prompt Inquiry Response
  • Robust Experience with Criminal Law Cases in Conestee
  • Innovative Defense Strategies
  • Effective, Thorough Research and Investigation

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in Conestee can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Our firm has represented thousands of clients in the Lowcountry, and we're ready to defend you too. Some of our specialties include:

 Law Firm Conestee, SC
The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference

DUI Cases
in Conestee, SC

DUI penalties in Conestee can be very harsh. Many first-time DUI offenders must endure a lifelong criminal record, license suspension, and the possibility of spending time in jail. Officers and judges take DUI very seriously, with 30% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina involving impaired drivers, according to NHTSA. Criminal convictions can have lasting impacts on your life, which is why CDH Law Firm works so hard to get these charges dismissed or negotiated down. In some cases, we help clients avoid jail time altogether.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer Conestee, SC
When you hire our DUI defense firm, our team will always work towards your best interests and will go above and beyond to achieve the best outcome in your case. Depending on the circumstances of your DUI charges, we will investigate whether:
  • Your DUI stop was legal
  • You were administered a field sobriety test correctly
  • The breathalyzer used was calibrated correctly and properly maintained
  • Urine and blood tests were administered and collected properly

The bottom line? Our criminal law defense attorneys will do everything possible to keep you out of jail with a clean permanent record. It all starts with a free consultation, where we will take time to explain the DUI process. We'll also discuss your defense options and speak at length about the differences between going to trial and accepting a plea bargain.

DUI Penalties in Conestee, SC

The consequences of a DUI in Conestee depend on a number of factors, including your blood alcohol level and how many DUIs you have received in the last 10 years. If you're convicted, the DUI charge will remain on your criminal history and can be seen by anyone who runs a background check on you. Sometimes, a judge will require you to enter alcohol treatment or install an interlock device on your automobile.

If you're on the fence about hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Conestee, SC, consider the following DUI consequences:

Criminal Defense Attorney Conestee, SC

First Offense

Offense

48 hours to 90 days

in jail

with fines ranging from

$400 to $1,000

Second Offense

Offense

Five days to three years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$2,100 to $6,500

Third Offense

Offense

60 days to five years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$3,800 to $10,000

Additional consequences can include:

1

Alcohol or Drug Treatment

When convicted of DUI in South Carolina, most offenders must join the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This program mandates that offenders complete a drug and alcohol assessment and follow the recommended treatment options.

 Law Firm Conestee, SC

2

Community Service

Some first-time DUI offenders in Conestee may choose to complete community service in lieu of jail time. Community service hours are usually equal to the length of jail time an offender would be required to serve.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer Conestee, SC

Sanctions to Your Driver's License

Typically, when a person is convicted of driving under the influence in Conestee, their driver's license is restricted or suspended. The length of restriction or suspension depends on how many prior DUI convictions an individual has.

First DUI Offense

First-time DUI offenders must endure a six-month license suspension. Drivers convicted with a blood-alcohol level of .15% or more do not qualify for a provisional license. However, sometimes they may still drive using an ignition interlock device.

Second DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a second DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years.

Third DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a third DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for three years. That term increases to four years if the driver is convicted of three DUIs in five years.

Immobilized Vehicle

For offenders with two or more convictions, the judge will immobilize their vehicle if it is not equipped with an IID. When a judge immobilizes a vehicle, the owner must turn over their registration and license plate. Clearly, the consequences of receiving a DUI in Conestee can be life-changing, and not in a good way. The good news is that with CDH Law Firm, you have a real chance at beating your charges and avoiding serious fines and jail time. Every case is different, which is why it's so important that you call our office as soon as possible if you are charged with a DUI.

Traffic Violation Cases

Most drivers brush off traffic law violations as minor offenses, but the fact of the matter is they are criminal matters to be taken seriously. Despite popular opinion, Traffic Violation cases in Conestee can carry significant consequences like fines and even incarceration. If you or someone you love has been convicted of several traffic offenses, your license could be suspended, restricting your ability to work and feed your family.

Every driver should take Traffic Violations seriously. If you're charged with a traffic crime, it's time to protect yourself and your family with a trusted criminal defense lawyer in Conestee, SC. Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC is ready to provide the legal guidance and advice you need to beat your traffic charges. We'll research the merits of your case, explain what charges you're facing, discuss your defense options, and strategize an effective defense on your behalf.

Common Conestee
Traffic Violations That CDH Law
Firm Fights

There are dozens and dozens of traffic laws in Conestee, all of which affect drivers in some way. Our Conestee defense attorneys fight a full range of violations, including but not limited to the following:

Criminal Defense Attorney Conestee, SC
  • Driving Under Suspension: If you drive while your license is suspended, revoked, or canceled, you could be looking at 30 days in jail and fines up to $300.
  • Driving Under the Influence: Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol is illegal and often results in jail time and fines.
  • Reckless Driving: You could be ordered to pay up to $200 in fines or jailed for up to 30 days if you drive with wanton disregard for the safety of other people.
  • Racing: You can be cited and fined if you aid or participate in street racing.
  • Hit and Run: When you leave the scene of an accident that involved injury to another party, you can be arrested. This serious charge can lead to up to one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000 for first-time offenders.
  • Disregard Traffic Signals: Drivers must obey all traffic signals and control devices, less they be ticketed and sometimes fined.

As seasoned traffic violation lawyers, we know how frustrating it can be to get charged with a Traffic Violation. While some traffic charges can be minor, others are severe and can affect your life for years to come. Don't leave your fate up to chance call CDH Law Firm today for the highest-quality Traffic Violation representation in Conestee.

Juvenile Crime Cases in
Conestee, SC

At Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC, we understand that children are still growing and learning about the world around them. As such, they may make mistakes that get them into trouble with the law. Children and teens who are arrested in Conestee can face much different futures than other children their age. Some face intensive probation, while others are made to spend time in jail.

This happens most often when a child's parents fail to retain legal counsel for their son or daughter. Cases referred to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice often move quicker than adult cases, so finding a good lawyer is of utmost importance. With that said, a compassionate criminal defense attorney in Conestee, SC, can educate you and your child about their alleged charges. To help prevent your child from going to a detention center, we will devise a strategy to achieve favorable results in their case.

 Law Firm Conestee, SC
 Criminal Defense Lawyer Conestee, SC

Juvenile Detention Hearings

Unlike adults, juveniles don't have a constitutional right to a bond hearing. Instead, once your child is taken into custody a Detention Hearing is conducted within 48 hours. This hearing is similar to a combination of a Bond Hearing and a Preliminary Hearing. Unfortunately, there is little time to prepare for these hearings, which is why you must move quickly and call CDH law firm as soon as possible.

Our team gathers police reports, petitions, interviews your child at the DJJ, speaks with you about the case and talks to the prosecutor to discover if they have plans for detention. In most cases, we strive to avoid detention and seek alternatives like divisionary programs or treatment facilities. This strategy better addresses your child's issues and keeps them out of the juvenile legal system in Conestee. If your child is charged with a crime, and South Carolina decides to prosecute, your child will appear before a family court judge, who will find them delinquent or not delinquent. There are no juries in juvenile cases in South Carolina, which is why it's crucial to have a lawyer present to defend your child if they go in front of a judge.

Common penalties for juveniles charged with crimes in Conestee include:

Criminal Defense Attorney Conestee, SC
  • Probation: Children charged with probation are released to their parents or guardians. Depending on their charges, they must abide by certain stipulations while at home and may be subject to random drug screenings. Violation of probation often results in jail time.
  • 90 Days in Juvenile Detention Center: When probation is not a viable option, prosecutors may push for 90 days of jail time in a juvenile detention facility.
  • Juvenile Detention: Children who commit very serious crimes can be sent to a juvenile detention center for a long time. These sentences can last up to the child's 21st birthday.
  • School Expulsion: When a child is convicted of a crime, their school is notified of the offense. Sometimes, the administration may decide to expel the child from school for the misdemeanors or felonies they commit.

We Fight to Protect
Your Rights So You Can
Provide for Your Family

Whether you are facing a DUI charge or a serious traffic violation, CDH Law Firm is here to fight for your rights so you can continue living life. The future might seem bleak, but our criminal defense lawyers in Conestee, SC, have the tools, experience, and strategy to win your case, as we have with so many others. Don't lose hope call our office today and maintain your freedom tomorrow.

Ask us anything

Call Now 843-936-6680 PH

Latest News in Conestee, SC

Conestee Park Has an Amazing Playground, Open Green Space, and Even a Dog Park

If you haven’t been to Conestee Park in Greenville, SC, then we highly recommend you go! This park features two playgrounds that are nature themed, a huge open field to fly kites or laze around in, a shaded picnic pavilion, and even connects to a nature preserve that is an ecological gem in Greenville County.Here’s some Greenville trivia for you. What is the former baseball field of the double-A minor league team, the Greenville Braves? If you’ve been in the area for a while, you know that the Braves used to play at ...

If you haven’t been to Conestee Park in Greenville, SC, then we highly recommend you go! This park features two playgrounds that are nature themed, a huge open field to fly kites or laze around in, a shaded picnic pavilion, and even connects to a nature preserve that is an ecological gem in Greenville County.

Here’s some Greenville trivia for you. What is the former baseball field of the double-A minor league team, the Greenville Braves? If you’ve been in the area for a while, you know that the Braves used to play at the Greenville Municipal Stadium. This is the current home of Conestee Park. What you may not know is that Conestee Park adjoins Lake Conestee Nature Preserve, Greenville’s best nature park!

What you’ll find at Conestee Park

Upon entering the park, you will drive past the ballfield and find the playgrounds and pavilion at the back of the lot. There is plenty of parking. And, in true Greenville fashion, there is a fenced playground for younger children right next to larger playground for the older kids. The playgrounds are nature-themed, with a variety of unique climbing and balancing structures that make this park a kid favorite.

The Conestee pavilion is one of the most beautiful I’ve seen at Greenville parks. With its rows of plentiful square picnic tables, wood-paneled ceilings, and a perfect view of the larger playground, the pavilion is a great place to rest in the shade for a snack or lunch. The pavilion can be reserved for events just like other parks. Right beside the pavilion and playground is a well-maintained bathroom.

In addition to the playground, there is a huge grassy area perfect for kicking a soccer ball or tossing a frisbee. There are even porch swings for the adults to sit on and relax while the children play. Around the lot is a paved path for running and walking. And over to the side is a dog park tucked away in the trees.

But, in my opinion (and my children’s too) one of the best parts about a trip to Conestee Park is that you can easily access Lake Conestee Nature Preserve. Several options are available for walking trails. Each trail has learning stations describing everything from river bed erosion to wild bird life. Trails are clearly marked and areas that are prone to mud have boardwalks. The trails even connect to the extensive Prisma Health Swamp Rabbit Trail. For more about the trails and layout in our KAG guide to Lake Conestee Nature Preserve Guide.

Check out our Guide to Lake Conestee Nature Preserve and see what makes it so special to Greenville, SC.

The large parking lot near the playground is at 840 Mauldin Road in Greenville, SC. This is just a ten minute drive from the Butler Road exit of I-385. Make sure to use this address which is “Greenville Municipal Stadium” in your GPS search. If you search Conestee Park, your map might take you to other entrances to the park.

There’s something for everyone at Conestee Park. Have you ever been?

Officials push to fix Conestee Dam to avoid ‘catastrophic’ break

GREENWOOD, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Tucked away in a cove off Lake Greenwood, Ralph and Lisa Cushing found their dream spot to retire.“We, you know, had big plans of being here the rest of our lives,” said Ralph.But that sunny plan became murky months after they moved in.“I don’t think I want to live on a toxic lake for the rest of my life,” he added.Fifty miles north of the Cushing home sits the ...

GREENWOOD, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Tucked away in a cove off Lake Greenwood, Ralph and Lisa Cushing found their dream spot to retire.

“We, you know, had big plans of being here the rest of our lives,” said Ralph.

But that sunny plan became murky months after they moved in.

“I don’t think I want to live on a toxic lake for the rest of my life,” he added.

Fifty miles north of the Cushing home sits the Conestee Dam.

The stonemasonry dam was completed in 1892 and is standing the test of time.

“Somebody who knew something built a dam that could last that long, but it won’t last forever because nothing does,” said Conestee Nature Preserve Operations Director Erin Knight.

“It is 70 years past its engineered life. It could fail at any time. It could last another ten years; we have no idea. We don’t know if it’s solid, if it has voids in it, and the investigation of that is impossible because as soon as you drill into it, you run into the risk of a cascade failure that could lead to a dam breach,” added Kelly Lowry.

Lowry is the Trustee for the Conestee Dam Restoration Project.

“The immediate aftermath of a dam break would be really catastrophic,” he says. “It’s a South Carolina concern for sure.”

Lake Conestee is full of contaminants from the textile mills that boomed in the Upstate from the 1890s to the mid-20th century.

“There was really little regulation about what could be dumped into rivers, so a lot of that came down the Reedy, and until it came to the lake, which was 130 acres originally, that stuff did not settle out, but it came and slowed right behind the Conestee Dam, and it remains there today,” explained Knight.

The Conestee Nature Preserve inherited the contamination and has managed the area around the lake for the last two decades.

Sediment in Lake Conestee collected by DHEC in 2021 shows concentrations of Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury all above EPA-acceptable standards. There are also higher than acceptable levels of pesticides and PCBs.

“As you get long-term exposure, health concerns could become a problem,” said Furman University Assistant Professor of Water Resources Dr. Gustavo Coelho.

Officials estimated there are between 2 million and 3.25 million cubic yards of sediment in the lake impacted by hazardous materials, enough to fill a football stadium 1.5 to 2 times.

“Most contaminants are contained in the Dam, and in case we have a spill or a break of the Dam those contaminants would go and spread downstream,” said Coelho.

That spread could go down to Lake Greenwood, Lake Murray near Columbia, and Lake Marion towards Charleston.

“It’s pretty much always on our mind. It isn’t just something that occasionally we’ll think about because I see how beautiful the lake is. It’s a big problem that has to get fixed,” said Cushing.

Officials have a solution in mind, creating a new dam a few feet downstream from the current one.

“The two would function really as a whole, they would work together to hold back the river and to hold back the sediments that are behind the existing dam,” said Lowry.

The price tag for that is $47.5 million.

“This is the year to do it, we have everything in place, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be moving forward,” said Knight.

The South Carolina legislature is debating whether to fund the solution. Lowry says the money could also come from private businesses, cities and counties in the area. He also didn’t rule out the possibility of federal funding.

After the new dam is funded, it will take three years to complete.

Copyright 2023 WHNS. All rights reserved.

Conestee Nature Preserve Offers Trails, Education, and Fun for Everyone: Greenville, SC

Conestee Nature Preserve in Greenville, SC opened in 2006, and quickly has become a favorite destination for families across the Upstate. We’ll tell you all about this amazing preserve right in the heart of Greenville.Conestee Nature Preserve is an incredible park with miles of trails, wetlands, boardwalks, educational programs, and lots of hands-on opportunities to learn about the environment, conservation, and participate ...

Conestee Nature Preserve in Greenville, SC opened in 2006, and quickly has become a favorite destination for families across the Upstate. We’ll tell you all about this amazing preserve right in the heart of Greenville.

Conestee Nature Preserve is an incredible park with miles of trails, wetlands, boardwalks, educational programs, and lots of hands-on opportunities to learn about the environment, conservation, and participate in some pretty cool things. We are big fans of the Preserve and can’t wait to tell you all about it here.

Trails at Conestee Nature Preserve

Mountain Biking at Conestee Nature Preserve

Birding at Conestee

Educational Classes for Kids at Conestee Nature Preserve

About Conestee Nature Preserve

First and foremost, it is easy to confuse Conestee Nature Preserve (CNP) with its neighbor, Conestee Park. Managed by Greenville County Recreation, Conestee Park has an enormous playground, stadium, baseball fields, dog park and picnic shelter. For more about Conestee Park check out Kidding Around Greenville’s mom review of Conestee Park.

The nature Preserve boasts 13 miles of trails that crisscross 640-acres of forest and wetlands. In 2020, the Preserve changed its name from Lake Conestee Nature Park to Conestee Nature Preserve to better reflect the park’s environment education and conservation mission.

Since its inception in 2006, the nonprofit has purchased more land and expanded the preserve, making it one of the top nature destinations in Greenville. They host events throughout the year like river cleanups, night hikes, bird watching, homeschool days, educational programs for kids, and even adult events like the Winter Wine Walk, which features wine and food.

Trails at Conestee Nature Preserve

With 13 miles of hiking and walking trails, you can easily get however many miles you’d like of the easy trails. We like to combine them and wander around. Conestee Nature Preserve has a helpful Trail Guide to get you started. We like using AllTrails as well in there to kind of see where we are and help us get to where you want to be.

There are boardwalks throughout the park as well where you can observe all kinds of cool things in the water like salamander eggs, salamanders, turtles, fish, ducks, geese, and lots of different kinds of birds. There are 11 observation decks so no shortage of places to check out the local wildlife.

The Swamp Rabbit Trail even goes through the heart of the Preserve. In the spring, be sure to look for all the cool wildflowers. We like using the free Seek app to identify them. Just don’t pick any and follow the Leave No Trace principles.

Mountain Biking at Conestee Nature Preserve

It may not be widely known but there are mountain biking trails at Conestee Nature Preserve. The trails are accessed by parking at 415 Churchill Circle, Greenville. They are located on the Brushy Creek Lands and are used by both pedestrians and bikers so trail etiquette is important.

The Preserve asks that bikes go right on trails on even days, and left on odd. Pedestrians should go left on even days, and right on odd. You can see the trails on this map.

Birding at Conestee Nature Preserve

Other than hiking and biking, there are many other fun things to do at Conestee Nature Preserve. CNP is one of our favorite destinations for birdwatching. The National Audubon Society has designated the Preserve as an Important Bird Area of Global Significance, and over 220 bird species have been reported by the Greenville County Bird Club. You can join the Greenville County Bird Club on a guided bird trip in the Preserve on the third Saturday of every month.

They do a short and long walk so you can choose what suits you best.

Educational Programs at Conestee Nature Preserve

We have been to so many of the Preserve’s educational programs and have loved all of them. Here are some of the different programs they offer.

Ever seen an ant zombie or get up close to a snake? It’s all possible if your school group does a field trip at the Preserve! They offer field trips from pre-K all the way through high school and adhere to the South Carolina Science Standards. The field trips fill up really fast so if your group wants to do it, get in touch with them well before the beginning of the next school year.

Field trips are free for public schools. The cost for private schools are $10/student for a standard field trip (3.5-4 hours long) and $8/student for a two-hour field trip. For homeschoolers, the cost is $10/student, $5/adult or child ages 3 and 4 for a standard field trip; $8/student, $4/adult for two-hour field trip.

If you have been looking for educational but fun classes for your kids, then you are in luck! Conestee Nature Preserve offers classes for kids ages 2 through middle school! Classes are offered monthly, and they even have some specialized homeschool classes and adult classes you may want to check out. Some of the adult classes include themes like rain barrel workshops, guided hikes, and birding! Tickets must be purchased ahead of time.

Preschool Nature Discovery Club (Knee-High Naturalist)

For younger children ages 2 – 4 years old, this spectacular program gets your kids outdoors learning about local wildlife. Cee, our instructor during our hour long class, was amazing! She speaks to every child with kindness, making the class interesting and fun, while creating a fun craft to go along with our lesson.

For our class in February, we started off reading a book about the subject we would be studying, in our case, metamorphosis. The classes have a different theme each month and correspond with what is going on during that time of year. We then explored logs for larvae and beetles, and the kids were so excited to find some critters crawling around on the logs. Afterward, we made a fun craft lighting bug that paired with the theme while reading another book and talking about what we saw.

The class is an excellent bite-size science lesson for littles, allowing them to engage with nature and look a little closer at the world around them. Classes are available twice per month, usually on a Thursday morning or Saturday morning, during the school year.

Nature Discovery After School Program: Elementary and Middle School Classes

Nature Discovery is a really cool program that gives exclusive access to elementary and middle school students to parts of the Preserve that the general public cannot go to. Kids can explore well beyond anything they could if they just visited the Preserve and this lets them dig deeper into the environments present and learn all about the different wildlife and seasonal cycles.

We did a salamander-focused Nature Discovery with the middle school group and had such a fun time! We learned what the eggs look like, got to search for them, hold them, and look at them under a microscope. We even got to search around to find a salamander, which one of the kids in our group. It was the coolest thing. Like the themes for the younger kids, these classes also follow the seasons and what is happening that time of year.

The staff at the Preserve are so passionate about their jobs and it’s hard not to have some of that passion rub off on the students while there.

Nature Discovery is offered in the fall and spring and you can sign up for one class or the semester. They meet every other week in the late afternoons. The cost is $10/session or $60 for all eight sessions.

The Preserve offers multiple homeschool days throughout the year but they sell out quickly. This is a drop-off program and you must reserve tickets in advance. You can stay tuned to their events page or subscribe to their email newsletter for the latest updates on when those dates are released.

Visiting Conestee Nature Preserve

Conestee Nature Preserve is open daily sunrise to sunset. While there is no admission, the Preserve kindly asks for a donation of $3/person. All proceeds go to supporting the Preserve. It is entirely a nonprofit and funded by donations.

CNP has a brand new little shop, which you can check out at the main entrance near the playgrounds. You can purchase CNP-branded merch.

Dogs are allowed at the park but they must be on leash at all times.

Follow Conestee Nature Preserve on Facebook to get the most up-to-date information on trail closures. The Preserve often floods and sometimes these waters can damage or close trails.

There is absolutely no swimming at Conestee Nature Preserve, for humans or animals. The lake was created when the Reedy River was dammed at the Conestee Mill in 1892. The lake originally covered about 130 acres, but over the years industrial waste and discharge filled about 90% of it with sediment so toxic that the lake was classified a Superfund site. Safety studies of the brownfield site were completed, and it was determined that the best course of action would be to leave the toxic sediment in place.

Conestee Nature Preserve 840 Mauldin Road, Greenville (there are four other entrances to trails, which you can view on the Conestee website)Conestee Nature Preserve Website | Conestee Nature Preserve Facebook

Love bird watching? Be sure to read our article about Upstate, SC birds at Lake Conestee.

What is your favorite place to visit in Conestee Nature Preserve?

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

When severe flooding hit parts of Greenville County on Feb. 6, Conestee Foundation Executive Director Dave Hargett thought it might be the day the 128-year-old Lake Conestee dam — and the 2.3 million cubic yards of toxic sediment it contains — finally gave way and washed downstream.But it didn't. And if there's good news, it's that the dam is still just in "poor" condition — it hasn't failed yet."We're gambling every day," Hargett said.Dams that are considered in "...

When severe flooding hit parts of Greenville County on Feb. 6, Conestee Foundation Executive Director Dave Hargett thought it might be the day the 128-year-old Lake Conestee dam — and the 2.3 million cubic yards of toxic sediment it contains — finally gave way and washed downstream.

But it didn't. And if there's good news, it's that the dam is still just in "poor" condition — it hasn't failed yet.

"We're gambling every day," Hargett said.

Dams that are considered in "poor condition" need "remedial action" and have uncertainties that identify a "potential dam safety deficiency," according to DHEC. DHEC also says if a dam is in poor condition, further investigations and studies are necessary.

The next level, "unsatisfactory," calls for immediate or emergency action. A December 2019 DHEC inspection confirmed the Conestee dam remains in poor condition.

Hargett said the toxic sediment trapped behind the dam is responsible for the dam's poor rating.

The inspection also noted:

It's been 20 years and four engineering studies since the Conestee Foundation bought the Lake Conestee site with state funds from the Colonial Pipeline settlement. Colonial Pipeline, headquartered in Georgia, had seven spills from 1996 to 1999 and paid millions in settlements to South Carolina, landowners and federal Clean Water Act fines.

Now, a new dam — to be built 10 feet downstream of the existing dam — should be completed by the end of 2022, according to a 2019 study completed by Lexington-based engineering group Kleinschmidt.

Hargett said he's confident he'll raise the money to complete the dam by the end of 2022, but ReWa CEO Graham Rich, a stakeholder in the dam project, said the completion date is ambitious.

"We have not been approached to fund any of it," the CEO of the water treatment plant told The Greenville News. "We're in support of repairing and replacing the dam, but there's still a lot of work that needs to be worked out. One, being able to get the land just to do the work."

Another key stakeholder, Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven said he's not sure about the timeline, but that there is a "sense of urgency" surrounding the project.

Flooding effects on Conestee: 'Trash jam' builds at Lake Conestee dam

Losing the dam would be an economic and environmental catastrophe

Before the 1960s, the Lake Conestee dam served hydroelectric functions. Now, it only serves as a waste containment structure. If it were to fail, it would be catastrophic, Hargett said.

All the toxic sediment the dam is holding back would make its way down the Reedy River and into Boyd Mill Pond and Lake Greenwood — which provides water for Greenwood and Laurens counties.

"If we lost the dam, it wouldn't just be an environmental catastrophe, it would be an economic catastrophe," Hargett said.

The Conestee mill is also downstream from the dam, and part of the land needed for the project is owned by WCM Global Wealth, which owns the mill property.

"We met with (Hargett) about a month ago to discuss the findings of the dam study and how it could affect the mill property. We have not come to any type of agreement on future plans," WCM Global Wealth real estate director Todd Hardaway said in an email to The News.

ReWa has an interest in the new dam, because the dam crosses the Reedy River where ReWa discharges treated water.

"The concern would be that if there were a failure and those sediments were released what it would do long term for the river and our ability to discharge into the river," ReWa CEO Graham Rich told the News.

If the dam were to fail, ReWa could most likely continue to discharge but would have more restrictions. It would also have to work with DHEC on a new solution.

Hargett said simply cleaning up the toxic sediment isn't an option.

"It would be well over a billion dollars, a billion dollars to clean it up," Hargett said. "You can't practically do it. It would be more harmful."

From the late 19th century through most of the 20th century, Greenville was a leader in the textile industry — and dyes released into the river many years ago contributed to the toxins in the sediment on the upstream side of the dam today, Hargett said.

"Either we can allow failure, or we can step up," Hargett said.

New dam, new owner

The new dam will cost $65 million, according to Hargett. That includes construction of the dam, creation of a new entity to own the dam and a long-term care endowment. The existing dam is on the National Register of Historic places and will remain in place, Hargett said.

"The price is not just the construction, the price includes all of these other things which are very important... it includes creating a new owner," Hargett said. "We don't want to own this anymore. It's too much liability."

Hargett said he's still working out the details on who will own the new dam.

"Everybody agrees we gotta do something now," Hargett said. But, "Nobody wants to get their wallets out."

Hargett said $6.5 million will come from public stakeholders, and $1 million of that was approved by a proviso by the South Carolina House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 19.

Hargett said $58.5 million would come from private entities, but he would not provide specifics.

Greenville County Council Chairman Butch Kirven said the county does not have the money in its budget to contribute to the project.

Instead, Kirven said one of the private entities they're talking to is Duke Energy — one of the "corporate companies that remain in place that were present when the problem was started," Kirven said.

Ryan Mosier who works in communications for Duke Energy said the company has been a part of "important conversations among many stakeholders in and near Greenville County concerning the future of Lake Conestee dam."

"We look forward to working with these groups on a plan that serves the long-term needs of all involved," Mosier said in an email.

And if Hargett doesn't raise the funds for the dam? The dam could become a National Priority List site, he said.

National Priority List sites are "sites of national priority among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories," according to the Environmental Protection Agency website.

New Lake Conestee dam cost estimates broken down:

Previous Conestee coverage: Lake Conestee Nature Park rebrands as a preserve

Contact Genna at gcontino@gannett.com or on Twitter @GennaContino.

Upstate, SC Birds: Birds and Birding at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

My family enjoys visiting Lake Conestee Nature Preserve not just because of its wonderful play areas but for its easy trails that are teeming with wildlife. I didn’t realize until recently that Lake Conestee Nature Preserve is an Upstate, SC birds watcher paradise with almost 200 different species of birds.I’m so excited that Paul Serridge from the Greenville County Bird Club has agreed to share with us m...

My family enjoys visiting Lake Conestee Nature Preserve not just because of its wonderful play areas but for its easy trails that are teeming with wildlife. I didn’t realize until recently that Lake Conestee Nature Preserve is an Upstate, SC birds watcher paradise with almost 200 different species of birds.

I’m so excited that Paul Serridge from the Greenville County Bird Club has agreed to share with us more about the birds at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve and the presentations and free guided bird walks that they offer to the Greenville Community. All of the following photos are taken by local Greenville County Bird Club member Don Faulkner and depict birds that you can look for at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve.

Birds at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

Are you interested in birds and want to know more?

Cedar Waxwing (Photo Credit: Don Faulkner) – learn more about the Cedar Waxwing

There are currently 976 species of birds on the ABA (American Birding Association) checklist for the area covered by the Continental US and Canada.

Wood Duck (Photo Credit: Don Faulker) – learn more about the Wood Duck

There are 472 species on the official bird list for South Carolina.

And….there are 192 species on the checklist for Lake Conestee Nature Preserve right here in Greenville. You can find the checklist at http://gcbirdclub.org/conestee

Red-shouldered Hawk (Photo Credit: Don Faulkner) – learn more about the Red-shouldered Hawk

In other words, a birding bonanza is right here on your doorstep in Greenville. Of course, many of the birds found at Conestee are common and some will visit backyard feeders and are well known. The accompanying photographs by Don Faulkner show some of the species regularly found in the park but which many people are not aware of in our local area.

Killdeer (Photo Credit: Don Faulkner) – learn more about the Killdeer

Free Guided Bird Walks at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve*

The Greenville County Bird Club (GCBC) offers free guided bird walks multiple times every month at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve (LCNP). Details can be found on the outings page of the GCBC website. Check the website before heading out, because the club occasionally adds walks or changes the weekend. It is not necessary to be a GCBC member to participate. (Please note that minor children should be accompanied by an adult.)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Photo Credit: Don Faulker) – learn more about the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Birding Events at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve

In addition to exploring the beauty of the Preserve, you can also participate in any of their events. They offer small Community Events and Youth Programs. Their Annual Events are larger in size and include Hops & Herons in the fall and the Great Blue Gathering in the Spring. They also offer occasional bird-watching events. You can stay tuned to their Events page for more details.

More Birding Opportunities

Have you seen any of these birds at Lake Conestee Nature Preserve?

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