Utility’s problems gives business owner second thoughts about Tega Cay

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comJanuary 13, 2014 

— Tega Cay residents say sewage spills in their community destroy home values and the environment. But what about new businesses?

Pat Collins owns Collins Diversified Investments, a company of two employees in McCaysville, Ga. He said he planned to relocate his family and business to Tega Cay. He looked at properties during the holidays but also came across news clips of sewage spills in Tega Cay. On Jan. 6, Collins sent an email to city administration and the Fort Mill Times explaining he was “rethinking my plan.”

“I spoke to several Tega Cay residents, heard their feelings of helplessness and betrayal and looked into the history of Utilities Inc.’s mismanagement and found the state and local response appalling,” Collins wrote. “When I saw the sewer water running into Lake Wylie I couldn’t believe it. What a threat to life and health you have going on there.”

Utilities Inc. is the parent company of Tega Cay Water Service, which in the past two weeks of 2013 saw more than a half dozen wastewater spills including hundreds of thousands of gallons that reached Lake Wylie. The utility reported numerous incidents throughout 2013 that led the city to investigate options for purchasing or improving the system.

Charlie Funderburk, city manager, received the email from Collins and informed him of Tega Cay’s situation. Tega Cay Water Service operates the older section of Tega Cay while city-operated Tega Cay Utility Department runs newer areas. Funderburk explained that the city-run utility isn’t having the same concerns.

Funderburk said if other potential business moves to Tega Cay have been impacted by the sewage concern, he isn’t aware of them.

“This is the first person (or) business we have heard from,” he said.

Mark Farris, executive director of the York County Economic Development office, handles larger-scale projects like manufacturing plants, whereas the sewage concerns in Tega Cay involve a largely residential area. Farris said for major employers looking at the area, adequate water and sewer service is a concern.

“Obviously the utilities, the capacity and reliability of a utility is absolutely important to a company,” he said.

In addition to needing water for industrial uses, many companies pride themselves in being “green” or environmentally friendly and “certainly wouldn’t want to be associated” with spills, Farris said.

Recent mid- or large-scale commercial development in Tega Cay is part of the TCUD system that isn’t having issues with spills.

Collins said last week he’s still looking into relocating. After seeing pictures of sewage running into the lake, he said, his family “wouldn’t be tempted to swim or boat or fish in the lake.”

“As for other companies or families moving to Tega Cay, I can tell you that if they see the TV spot or read of the problem and how long it has been going on without a fix, undoubtedly there are doubts about the wisdom of such a move,” he said. “Would you want your children swimming in that lake, or drinking the water, or having sewage in your yard?”

John Marks •  803-547-2353

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