Tens of thousands of gallons of sewage spilled into Lake Wylie during the weekend after recent rains.
“Today’s heavy rains have unfortunately caused sewer system overflows in Tega Cay that have reached the lake,” said Tom Oakley with the utility’s parent company, Utilities Inc.
On Sunday, Tega Cay Water Service reported one of the spills at 50,000 gallons. It occurred at wastewater treatment plant No. 2 and ran from 1:30 p.m. Saturday to 12:30 a.m. Sunday. There also were three spills at manholes. One at 2141 Manawa Lane released 1,500 gallons in almost seven hours. One at 1007 Palmyra released 1,000 gallons in 40 minutes. One at 2095 Diamond Head Circle added less than 500 gallons. It flowed for more than six hours before the leaks were halted.
All totals are estimates by the utility. The roughly 53,000 gallons from Saturday adds to a growing total. On Dec. 23 the utility had six spills at more than 178,000 gallons. On Dec. 29 three spills let out more than 11,000 gallons. Two more spills Jan. 2 released close to 850 gallons.
With the latest incident, spills total more than 243,000 gallons since Dec. 23. All of the most recent spill sites were involved in one or more of the previous spills.
Linda Stevenson, who leads the Tega Cay Water Citizen Advisory Council, sent out an email Saturday with pictures from the latest spills and a familiar call to rid the city of Tega Cay Water Service.
“Today was not a good day in Tega Cay,” she wrote.
Stevenson described sewage flowing into storm drains and the lake. Her group is gathering photos and accounts to send to the city or other regulators in a call for change.
“Truly we have no more patience with this shoddy work and must receive relief in the form of getting rid of this company,” Stevenson wrote. “Have them turn over the system to the city as we have more than paid for it at this time with our rate increases.”
The city owns and operates the Tega Cay Utilities Department, one of Tega Cay’s two water utilities. It serves newer portions of the city. Tega Cay Water Service is a private utility serving the older, largely residential areas. Despite having no ownership of the Tega Cay Water Service system, city officials have looked into options, including purchasing the system. A decision hasn’t been made.
Rick Durham, regional vice president of Utilities Inc., sent a Jan. 7 email to the utility’s customers in Tega Cay acknowledging how “frustrated and angry” residents are that the spills haven’t been resolved.
“We have worked very hard over the years identifying numerous sources of the system issues and repairing them quickly and completely,” he wrote. “And while the improvements have made a difference in the amount of inflow coming into the collection system, the age and location of the pipes continue to present a unique challenge that becomes painfully obvious during periods of intense and prolonged rainfall.”
In some problem places, utility infrastructure is as old as the city itself or older. Tega Cay was incorporated in 1982. Durham told residents the company will continue making upgrades and repairs until the issue is resolved.
“The overflows relating to these most recent rain events confirmed our knowledge that we still have ongoing work to do,” he wrote.