Raw sewage, percolating out of the ground.
In your backyard.
It’s a site nobody wants to see, but some in York County see right through their windows on a regular basis.
Now, residents in Tega Cay and River Hills have a new ally in the fight against Utilities, Inc. and Carolina Water Systems — S.C. Governor Nikki Haley.
For years, residents in and around Lake Wylie have grown accustomed to signs closing off coves, caution cones and sewage appearing to boil out of sewer lines.
Haley, speaking in Lake Wylie Thursday afternoon, said her office is aware of the situation and currently reviewing any and all options the state may have in cleaning up its act.
“We’re still at that point to try and figure out what is happening,” Haley said. “We’ve been in conversations with DHEC as well as received your letters. I think we’ll know something soon.”
Utilities, Inc. and Carolina Water Systems have repeatedly ignored requests for comment about the issue.
S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman, whose district includes the areas in River Hills who have experienced the sewage overflows, says something needs to be done.
“We need to keep the pressure on DHEC. When there is a spill — and there are many — we’ll have biggest fine they can impose,” Norman said. “This isn’t a first time event with Carolina Water Systems or Utilities, Inc., they have not maintained the system.”
The burgeoning issue has attracted the attention of Catawba Riverkeeper Rick Gaskins. Following, a spill in early May, Carolina Water Systems issued a release saying that 100,000 gallons of raw sewage had flowed out of the system. Gaskins said then that there’s no real way to estimate just how much sewage exited the system.
Haley, speaking with reporters at River Hills Community Church, declined to speculate what help the state could provide, citing the lack of full knowledge on the situation. But when WRHI pressed for an answer, she admitted an Executive Order could be within the realm of possibility.
Norman, however, suggested the best route of action now is by enforcement of health rules through the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
But, he says, there is little the state can do to protect communities from companies like Utilities, Inc. and Carolina Water Service in the future.
“You can’t legislate bad behavior,” Norman said. “I can take you anywhere in Tega Cay, in River Hills and Lake Wylie. The systems are outdated. They have not had a progressive attitude, they have not listened to the citizens. Unfortunately they are a rogue company.”