S.C. regulators demand action in wake of Tega Cay sewer spills

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 8, 2013 

— Residents aren’t the only ones asking for better results from Tega Cay Water Service.

On Wednesday the state Office of Regulatory Staff filed a petition with the state Public Service Commission calling for “immediate steps” to improve water and sewer service to customers. It cites spills of 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of wastewater this year “on at least three occasions in multiple lactations.”

The Tega Cay Citizen Advisory Council, a group of residents tracking such problems for use against the company in rate cases, says there have been at least a half dozen spills so far this year.

“The customers of Tega Cay deserve better than what this utility is currently providing,” said Dukes Scott, executive director of the Office of Regulatory Staff.

On April 29 an estimated 100,000 gallons of “partially treated wastewater” spilled from a treatment plant off of Marquesas Drive, flowing into a storm drain and then a cove of Lake Wylie. The following weekend another heavy rain – both times the culprit according to the company – caused multiple spills including one estimated at 500 gallons.

Tom Oakley, chief of staff for the CEO of parent company Utilities, Inc., sent a letter to customers on Tuesday promising improvements.

“First and most importantly, I want to be clear, we are going to figure out why we continue to have sewer overflows during significant rain events despite two years of work on this issue,” he wrote.

Oakley continued that the system has been “tightened up significantly,” yet “seems to be getting worse.”

“We are committed to stopping all sewer overflows as soon as possible, whatever it takes,” Oakley wrote. “We can understand how frustrated you, as homeowners, must be and we are putting all hands on deck to figure this out.”

Earlier this year, the utility received permission from state regulators to increase consumer rates by 33 percent for water service and 27 percent for sewer service.

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