Rules & Regs: South Carolina’s Greenville County is Ready to Limit Onsite Development

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Greenville County, South Carolina is close to placing restrictions on development using onsite systems. County government officials are motivated by a surge of development and concern that existing infrastructure cannot accommodate such growth. From 2010 to 2022, the county’s population increased 21%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Between April 2020 and July 2022 growth was 4.3%. 

Last fall, the County Council approved the second reading of an ordinance that would limit homes with onsite systems to one home for every 1.5 acres. This would apply only to developments with 10 or more lots, according to the Post and Courier of Greenville. The proposed rules would also require a 100-foot buffer between a stream and large developments using onsite systems.

County planning staff say they are receiving a growing number of requests from developers who want to use onsite systems for subdivisions of more than 200 homes.

“Building 200- to 300-house subdivisions where you’re using a half to three-quarters of an acre per house was not an efficient use of the limited land we have left,” said councilman Ennis Fant, chair of the planning and development committee, according to the Post and Courier.

A large number of people commented on the proposal. Several people representing real estate companies and developers said they were concerned the rules would place too many restrictions on new projects.

The council approved an amendment that would require reauthorizing the rule after two years.


The U.S. Senate adopted an amendment that would increase funding for the Rural Decentralized Water Systems Program.

The program provides grants and loans to people in rural areas to install or repair onsite wastewater systems, according to a press release from the office of Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J. Booker sponsored the amendment with Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama.

Funding for the program would increase from $5 million to $20 million for fiscal year 2024. At least $10 million would be paid to low-income households as grants for onsite systems.

The amendment became part of the three “minibus” appropriations bills passed by the chamber last fall.


The state Department of Natural Resources awarded a $2.6 million grant to the nonprofit H2Ozarks. It will use the money to help people repair or replace failing onsite systems in some watersheds around Lake of the Ozarks, Harry S. Truman Lake, Pomme de Terre Lake, Lake Niangua and Table Rock Lake.

All of the money is passing through the state from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a press release from H2Ozarks.

The organization is also administering two other onsite remediation grants: in Arkansas a $1 million grant for the Upper White and Buffalo river watersheds, funded by the natural resources division of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture; and in Missouri a $130,000 grant funded by Greene County.


Pumpers in the Bitterroot Valley of Ravalli County are searching for locations to dump septage now that the Missoula Wastewater Treatment Plant has reduced the amount of septage it accepts.

Pumpers were told the plant would cut out-of-county loads by 60%, reported the Bitterroot Star of Stevensville. Although Missoula takes septage from six other nearby counties, Ravalli County sends the most. Last year pumpers there took more than 1.4 million gallons of septage to Missoula. Now outside septage is capped at 60,000 gallons per month. At least one company in the valley is hauling septage the 143 miles to Helena.

Conrad and Tonya Eckert, of Eckert’s Patriot Pumpers, said they have spent years warning officials about the consequences of not planning for increased septage volume generated by a growing number of homes. “We couldn’t get anyone to understand what was coming,” Conrad Eckert told the Bitterroot Star, “but now it has hit us.”

New York

People in Cattaragus County with failing onsite systems may be eligible for part of a $400,000 community development block grant awarded to the county Health Department.

Funding is first come, first served, and applications are made through the department’s grant partner Connecting Communities in Action. To be eligible, people must have an owner-occupied single-family dwelling and meet income limits. Those range from $45,500 for a single person in the home to $85,750 for a home with eight people.


The Falmouth Board of Health is considering a change in its onsite rules that would ban cesspools. Under the proposed rules, any cesspool found during a wastewater inspection would be automatically considered to have failed.

The proposed regulations would also increase required distance to groundwater. Advanced treatment units would not be eligible for a reduced separation distance if more than 25% of the property is within 300 feet of a marine resource. And system designs would be required to show where an advanced treatment unit could be located on a property if such technology is mandated in the future.

North Carolina

Homeowners in Haywood County may receive grants to help repair or replace failing onsite systems. Grants pay 75% of total repair costs, reported the Smoky Mountain News. Eligibility will be determined by the severity of the failure, financial need and proximity to a waterway.

The program is a partnership of the county Health Department and the Haywood Waterways Association and is paid for by the state Department of Environmental Quality and the Pigeon River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina.


Residents of DeLeon Springs must upgrade their onsite systems and now may draw on grants to help offset the cost.

A total of $2.2 million, distributed by Volusia County, will be divided into $10,000 rebates for people updating their systems, reported the West Volusia Beacon. Money is payable to a licensed onsite contractor and is available only in the priority focus area of DeLeon Springs. 


Homeowners in parts of Orange, Madison, Rappahannoc and Culpeper counties are eligible for grants to reimburse 50% to 80% of the cost of pumping, inspecting, repairing or replacing onsite systems.

How much people may receive depends on what a system needs and on income, reported the Culpeper Star-Exponent. Grants are available in sections of the watersheds of the Rush, White Walnut Run, Blue Run, Robinson and Upper York rivers.


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