GREENVILLE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) For more than a century, hazardous and toxic chemicals have been sitting behind the Conestee dam.

“Behind that dam is every sort of pollution known to mankind,” said Bradley Wootten, a member of Save Lake Greenwood.

This pollution has been a concern for nearby residents, who have been pushing for solutions. They said still, many don’t fully understand what could happen if the dam bursts.

“230,000 dump trucks, so over 1,000 miles of dump trucks of sediment that will come down the Reedy River, that will make its way to Lake Greenwood, out the Saluda river and eventually to Lake Murray and maybe all the way to the coast,” said Ralph Cushing, founder of Save Lake Greenwood. “What’s that going to do? It’s going to devastate our ecology and our economy.”

Along with residents, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is now warning local and state lawmakers too.

“Senator Karl Allen has been a local supporter of this and he’s going to help on the senate side of getting the funding needed to fix this problem,” said Councilman Butch Kirven, Greenville County Council.

DHEC presented a plan Tuesday night to Greenville County Council. The project is called recommended alternative number 9. It calls for a new dam to be built 10 feet below the existing dam, tying the two together and ultimately containing the sediment.

Councilman Butch Kirven calls the existing dam a ticking-time bomb.

“You can imagine how it’s a public health and public safety concern that needs to be fixed and I think now the kinetic energy has been created among the policy makers and leaders at the state and local level to actually find a resource to get that done as soon as possible,” said Councilman Kirven.

The proposal is now making its way through the legislature for approval, but in the meantime, many are hoping the dam doesn’t burst while they wait.

“It’s like having a guillotine swinging over our heads and we’re not doing anything about it and the rope is fraying,” said Wootten.

A question and answer public forum about the Conestee dam will be hosted next week in Greenwood. For more information, click here.

DHEC said if all goes to plan, they will begin working in the fall of 2023. The project is estimated to cost $47.5 million.