State backs SELC position on pollution remedy along S.C.’s Saluda River

Poor sewage treatment by Carolina Water Service is fouling South Carolina’s scenic and popular Saluda River. (© William Graf)

South Carolina health officials have ordered a private utility to quit dumping its treated sewage into the Saluda River, but the utility is still not ready to comply.

SELC attorneys applauded the recent decision by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to deny a renewal permit to Carolina Water Service (CWS) and issue an administrative order forcing CWS to eliminate its discharges and connect to the Town of Lexington’s sewer system, something the utility was supposed to do in 1999.

“It is past time for CWS to connect to a proper municipal sewage system and to stop discharging waste into the Saluda River,” said Blan Holman, Managing Attorney in SELC’s Charleston office. “We are pleased the state is ready to finally require CWS to achieve this connection, which is something that should have happened many years ago.”

Creating a connection to a municipal system is essentially what SELC, representing the Congaree Riverkeeper, has been pushing the utility to do for years. SELC is in court aiming to force CWS to connect to the Lexington sewage system.

But just this week, CWS filed a challenge to DHEC’s decision to deny it a renewal permit. CWS has also appealed DHEC’s administrative order requiring it to cooperate with the Town of Lexington to develop a plan for achieving a connection to the Town’s system.

For more than 20 years the private utility has discharged sewage into the Saluda River. Earlier this summer, a discharge of improperly treated sewage from another nearby CWS facility spiked bacteria levels in the river, leading to a swimming advisory.

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