Our view

Tega Cay buying ailing water service

April 21, 2014 

  • In summary

    Many Tega Cay residents appear enthusiastic about the city’s plan to buy the troubled private water service that now serves the community.

Assuming plans by the city of Tega Cay to buy the privately owned Tega Cay Water Service move forward, the city will not only be buying a sewer service but also the troubles that go with running it.

Troubles for current owners have been plentiful. The service is under a consent order from the Department of Health and Evnironmental Control for environmental infractions for allowing a significant number of sewage spills into Lake Wylie.

Over the weekend, another 300-gallon sewage spill occurred, prompting a “no swim advisory” from the utility. Heavy rains apparently overwhelmed the sewer system, causing the spill.

If the city buys the service for $5.85 million as planned, it will have to contend with such disruptions until the service can be improved. Under the sale agreement, the city also would assume responsibility for any remaining sewer system upgrades the state has ordered current owners to perform.

The Tega Cay City Council voted April 8 to buy the sewer service. Now the city has to come up with a formal purchase agreement and a plan to finance the deal. The sale also must be approved by DHEC and the state Public Service Commission.

If city officials sign off on the plan, they could invest about $6.5 million in repairs to the ailing system. And that would mean a rate hike for customers.

But many of those present at the April 8 meeting were enthusiastic about the prospect of having a city-owned system. Residents have had to contend with the sewage spills and other problems with the existing system for a long time.

During the meeting, state Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, urged residents to make sure they know what they are getting into before the purchase is finalized. Residents should know what it will take to make the needed upgrades and how much more they will have to pay, Norman said.

That was good advice. But the council and much of the community apparently believe they know all they need to know to give a thumbs up to this proposal.

For one thing, the negotiated price is more than $2 million less than the initial asking price. And the city already is in the water and sewer business, providing services to about 1,500 property owners.

The current sewer service clearly is unacceptable. The multiple sewage spills not only are an inconvenience for customers but also an environmental threat to the lake, which is the primary water source for all of York County.

We hope that, if this deal comes to pass, the upgrades and repairs can be made at a reasonable cost and customers get a water and sewer service they can count on.

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