Water Quality

Twelve Mile River Restoration

For years, Upstate Forever diligently worked to ensure that the EPA Superfund cleanup of PCB’s from the Twelve Mile River was successful. Now that cleanup is complete and the river is safe for recreation, our efforts have shifted to improve access to the river. 

About the Twelve Mile

The Twelve Mile River flows for 30 miles through Pickens County before reaching Lake Hartwell. It is a popular paddling destination, offering both flatwater and whitewater recreation opportunities. Pickens County provides access to Town Creek, a tributary of the Twelve Mile River, at the ever-popular Town Creek Park and future plans include two new riverside parks that will continue to improve recreational access to the river. 

The Twelve Mile was the focus of an EPA Superfund cleanup to remove PCB contamination and restore the health of the river until January 2015. From 1955 to 1977, the Sangamo-Weston capacitor manufacturing plant in Pickens dumped over 400,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into Town Creek, a tributary to Twelve Mile River, which flows into Lake Hartwell. PCBs are toxic manmade compounds that are very slow to break down, do not mix well with water, and settle into sediments where they can enter the food chain and accumulate in small organisms, fish, and people. The United States Congress banned the production of PCBs in 1979.

Upstate Forever’s Involvement

In 2009, Upstate Forever became involved in the Superfund cleanup of the Twelve Mile River, ensuring that the river was successfully cleaned up and restored to improve aquatic habitat for fish and to provide recreational opportunities for the public. Contaminated sediment was removed from behind two dams known as Woodside I and II, and the dams were dismantled to allow clean sediment to cover and encapsulate the contaminated sediment to help naturally restore the Twelve Mile arm of Lake Hartwell.

In the spring of 2017, Upstate Forever worked in partnership with many important stakeholders to develop the Twelve Mile River Blueway map to promote safe recreation. In addition, Pickens County is planning to build two parks to give better access to the river. Read more about our blueway mapping project.


Photo: Tom Blagden


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