SELC files suit to protect Saluda River from wastewater pollution

Foaming wastewater from the Carolina Water Service I-20 facility enters the Lower Saluda River. Footage provided by Congaree Riverkeeper.

The Saluda River is a popular recreation spot near Columbia, S.C. Swimmers enjoy its cool water, fisherman its trout, and paddlers its whitewater rapids. Unfortunately, this designated scenic river is also the site of many years of unlawful sewage discharges from the Carolina Water Service’s private sewage plant. The I-20 facility was designated as “temporary” in the late 1990’s. Well over a decade later, however, it continues to release foaming wastewater into the river. And it has failed to connect to a more modern regional treatment system, as it’s been required to do since 1999.

 SELC has now filed suit in federal court to stop these ongoing violations. Although state officials at the Department of Health and Environmental Control have periodically sent warning letters to Carolina Water Service, the agency has not followed through with enforcement.

The facility has exceeded its permit limits—including those for fecal coliform bacteria and biochemical oxygen demand—at least twenty-three times in the past five years. Fecal coliform measurements exceeding daily limits by more than 500 percent have been found at the site, posing health hazards for people and animals using the river.

“State and local officials have been saying this pollution needs to stop for years, but the sewage discharges have continued even as more and more families swim and fish in the Saluda” said SELC senior attorney Blan Holman. “It’s long past time this facility hooked into the cleaner regional treatment system, as it’s been required to do since 1999.”

Read the press release here.

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