Three sewage spills reported in Lake Wylie

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comSeptember 10, 2013 

— It wasn’t one, but three sewage spills that have Tega Cay residents again asking what can be done.

A Tega Cay Water Service spill of about 1,000 gallons of sewage is still being investigated, though tests show the water is now safe. The incident occurred the afternoon of Sept. 1 and reached a cove off Tepa Place.

Tom Oakley, with the utility, said the Labor Day weekend incident prompted state health department notification and “no swimming” signs were posted within an hour of an operator arriving on site. Photos from residents began circulating after the incident, some showing children in the water nearby.

Oakley said efforts were made to keep people out of the area.

“The health and safety of the community are our No. 1priority, especially when children are involved,” he said. “Per our internal policy, we did post ‘no swimming’ signs within an hour of our operator arriving on site and he also told some kids swimming near the cove at that time that they should get out.”

According the incident report filed with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Resources, the incident occurred at 1:13 p.m. Sept. 1. The state department was notified at 9:52 a.m. the following day.

Linda Stevenson, part of a community group that takes complaints and reports of Tega Cay Water Service issues, said there was no automated telephone call telling residents to keep out of the water.

“That’s the one where there were children swimming nearby while the sewer was flowing into the lake,” she said.

Health department filings show the Tepa Place spill was the largest this year, but not the only one. There was a spill Aug. 30 off of Koala Circle. The utility estimated that spill at less than 500 gallons and said it did not reach a waterway. There was another backup Sept. 3 on Marquesas Avenue. The utility estimated that spill at less than 120 gallons, but estimates 20 gallons reached a storm drain.

Stevenson said her group has close to 30 documented spills just this year from the utility. She’s particularly concerned because it hadn’t rained significantly heading into the holiday weekend. When large spills happened earlier this year, the company, in part, blamed heavy rainfalls.

“We haven’t had rain,” Stevenson said. “What are we going to blame it on?”

Stevenson’s group, the Tega Cay Water Citizen Advisory Council, fought recent rate increases by the utility that ultimately passed. A main reason for the increases was to improve service and reduce spills. Stevenson worries the needed work hasn’t been done.

“These people are going to look for us to pay for this again,” she said.

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