‘Unimaginable’ spill into Lake Wylie has neighbors blaming the road they never wanted

Lake Wylie filled with Bonum Road runoff

Runoff from a road construction project in Lake Wylie, South Carolina has the lake filling in after heavy rains. Residents say the road was never needed.
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Runoff from a road construction project in Lake Wylie, South Carolina has the lake filling in after heavy rains. Residents say the road was never needed.

The road residents didn’t want is now responsible, they say, for something they want even less.

“This road is just absolutely pouring sediment,” said Lake Wylie resident Paul Link. “This road should have never been built.”

Bonum Road residents took more than 200 photos and video clips Sunday of muddy water pouring out of retention structures, across yards and into Lake Wylie. Runoff ankle deep or higher ran across and along a connector road under construction there. Ditches were overrun, and some boat docks in the lake were impacted.

As of press time, information on a potential response from York County wasn’t available.

Residents along Bonum Road have been concerned for several years about new residential construction in their area, much of it along the banks of Lake Wylie. Early last year, they thought they had a small victory when the developer of Cypress Pointe agreed with them that a planned connector road wouldn’t be needed.

Developer and Lake Wylie resident Kent Olson with Development Solutions Group said at the time he understood why the connector from Bonum to Robinwood Road was approved, but that connectivity for traffic and emergency services wouldn’t be an issue, even without the new road.

“A lot of thought was put into it,” he said. “A lot of engineering was put in to make sure that those residents would not all be dumped out onto Bonum.”

Last November, the county planning commission voted 5-4 to keep the connector road. York County Councilwoman Allison Love, who also lives in the area, criticized that decision, which was made despite three dozen signatures in protest from Bonum Road residents.

Monday morning, Love said in an email — to neighbors, York County staff and others — that the situation on Bonum Road is “nothing short of a joke at this point.”

“I am personally at a loss for words on this whole topic that is certainly not new to anyone,” she wrote. “We need a stop work order and fines.”

Several neighbors took photos and video of sediment pouring into their cove on Sunday. Love said the issue is a “textbook example of what not to do” in planning and approving projects.

“The entire Bonum Road issue has been a fiasco from the beginning,” she wrote.

Residents have been in regular contact with county environmental staff. There was a stop work order issued for 12 days in June for Ivy Ridge, like Cypress Pointe a new D.R. Horton community on Bonum. Violations were issued after runoff from heavy rains in March, too.

Various projects in the Bonum Road area have had stop work orders, fines or notice of violations several times, including in late 2015 and about this time a year ago.

Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins fields environmental complaints from throughout the greater Charlotte region. This one road in Lake Wylie, alone, keeps his group busy.

“We get reports every time it rains,” Perkins said. “That development off Bonum has been one of the worst and most pervasive polluters we’ve ever had.”

Some weather forecasts put the chance of rain at more than 50 percent through Saturday, meaning more sediment could be released. Rain on de-stabalized dirt, common with construction work, can cause runoff dumping that dirt into public waters and filling them to where they aren’t usable for access, recreation, even public water withdrawals in extreme cases.

Environmental groups like the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation say it’s the most common environmental issue facing the region.

Resident Linda O’Neil, who took most of the photos and video neighbors gathered, said the weekend storm weren’t the first of their kind, but the runoff was most severe.

“What upsets me the most is the excuse they keep on giving is these summer storms, there’s no controlling those,” O’Neil said. “In 14 years, these are not the first summer storm events that we’ve had. We’ve had plenty.”

O’Neil doesn’t put the blame on Mother Nature.

“Nature did not do this,” she said. “This was done by the construction company.”

Link said it’s frustrating facing environmental problems when residents were so adamant they could be coming.

“The residents for two years were trying to stop the county from forcing the developer to construct a connector road, and we lost that appeal,” he said. “Now we’ve got an environmental disaster and damage to personal property.”

Link believes residents “need a higher authority” than the county to handle the issue. The road neighbors didn’t want was nearing completion before it was washed away, he said.

“It’s washed right through residents’ yards, and it’s washed right into the lake,” Link said.

Residents don’t have any estimate for how much sediment spilled Sunday. But they know the impact.

“The amount of environmental impact to the lake over here is just unimaginable,” Link said. “They’re literally filling in these coves, with this development.”

John Marks: jmarks@fortmilltimes.com; @JohnFMTimes

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