State regulators demand action in wake of Tega Cay sewer spills

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comMay 8, 2013 

— In the wake of recent sewage spills, state regulators on Wednesday asked the state Public Service Commission to order Tega Cay Water Service to take “immediate steps” to improve water and sewer service to customers.

The S.C. Office of Regulatory Staff cited spills of 50,000 to 100,000 gallons of wastewater this year “on at least three occasions in multiple locations.”

The Tega Cay Citizen Advisory Council, a group of residents tracking such problems, 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.

Tega Cay Water Service is a private company that provides water and sewer service to the much of the city, which is surrounded on three sides by Lake Wylie.

On April 29, an estimated 100,000 gallons of “partially treated wastewater” spilled from a treatment plant off Marquesas Drive, flowing into a storm drain and then a cove of Lake Wylie. The company blamed heavy rain.

The following weekend another heavy rain caused multiple spills, the company said, including one estimated at 500 gallons.

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

“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 said 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.”

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

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