The Reedy River is a small river with big responsibilities. Although the Reedy flows through a relatively small watershed of approximately 167,000 acres, the upper portion of the watershed includes the rapidly growing City of Greenville, portions of Mauldin and Simpsonville, and the industrialized Interstate 385 corridor. Flowing through this urban environment places a significant set of demands on this small ribbon of water. The Reedy takes the community’s treated wastewater; the runoff from yards, parking lots, streets, and construction sites; other trash and debris we leave behind and moves silently downstream.
Like many of our nation’s rivers, the Reedy River has accepted and transported our refuse continuously for decades. However, we have come to understand that the river is much more than a simple receptacle for our various forms of waste. The Reedy River is much more. It is home to an array of aquatic creatures and provides us with a source of recreation. Its riparian forests provide habitat for a range of birds and animals. It connects us to our past through the historical resources associated with the river.
For many years the Reedy River occupied a special place in the lives of the people of Greenville and Laurens Counties. Kids played in the Reedy River. Couples were married below the beautiful falls of the Reedy. Families picnicked and played at places like the Reedy River Falls, Cedar Falls and Ekom Beach along the Reedy River.
Over time, activities along the river changed. Textile mills dominated the use of the river in the city of Greenville, while picnic areas and swimming holes were forgotten. The use of the river changed during this time and the once vibrant, important resource became polluted and little used.
In recent years, the character of Reedy River has changed for the better. Laws such as the Clean Water Act of 1972 have allowed the Reedy to rebound resulting in improved water. Additionally, community interest in the river throughout the watershed appears to be at an all time high. The community has turned its attention to the Reedy River with a wide range of concerns for this important resource. Into this mix comes a comprehensive study of the Reedy River Watershed.
In recent years we have developed a better understanding of the inter-connected nature of the resources that sustain and drive human society. The natural resources of land and water are obviously inter-connected and the health of these resources is tied to our economic well-being. Both our natural resources base and sound economic opportunities yield a good quality of life for everyone in the watershed.
A comprehensive watershed study is our attempt to focus on the broader inter-connected set of resources and the values each of these resources represents in a community. The Reedy River Watershed Study is a citizen-based planning effort that takes a comprehensive look at the watershed’s resources and examines the inter-relationships among these resources in a long-term management plan. This type of approach to natural resources planning recognizes that to be successful in sustaining our natural resources, we must understand all uses and interests in the community to make sound management decisions.
In light of these considerations, the Reedy River Task Force was established to examine the critical resources in the watershed and create the long-term management plan to help guide the use of this critical asset. Task force members included local government officials, landowners, and representatives of conservation organizations, industries, other local groups and state agencies. Committees were formed for each of eight critical issues facing the river corridor, as identified by the task force. Each committee developed a set of policy recommendations and presented them to the task force for discussion and approval.
On a fundamental level, the Reedy River Watershed Study is an effort to create a common vision for the future of the Reedy River and its surrounding watershed that is based on sound information and local values as determined by the citizens who served on the task force. This vision will assist in the long-term management and sustainability of the critical natural resources of the Reedy River.
The Reedy River Watershed Study takes a landscape level approach to understanding these natural resources. The recommendations developed as a result of this study will assist in making proactive decisions that can help guide the continuing growth and change in the watershed. Hopefully, this study can assist decision makers in shaping change to meet the needs of coming generations, as they will also need to depend upon the natural resource base of the Reedy River.
A summary of the planning process and the resulting set of policy recommendations is provided in The Reedy River Report: Managing a Watershed, produced in 2001. While this report represents the completion of the planning process, it also marks the beginning of a new phase of the project: implementation.
Contact Reedy River Management Project Staff:
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202
Telephone: (803) 734-9095
Fax: (803) 734-9200