Residents express concerns over tap fees in parts of Richland Co - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Residents express concerns over tap fees in parts of Richland Co.

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

The Richland County Utilities Department has hosted numerous meetings about the construction of a new sewer system, but concerned residents are asking questions about what to expect moving forward.

Many in Lower Richland, Eastover, and Hopkins currently use septic tanks and the construction of this new system could change that for those who want it.

Dan Purini, manager of special projects the utilities department, fielded several questions about project at a Thursday meeting, with many concerning cost commitment.

Several people at the meeting don't have a monthly water bill, but that will also change if they decide to tap in to the system.

According to Purini, it will cost residential owners $4,000 to tap into the new system on top of a service line installation cost and $37.60 for monthly service.

Although it is not mandatory for people to switch, the county is offering incentives to do so.

Purini says if people request service before the project goes out to bid, their service lines will be installed without cost.

Richland County has also implemented two programs to help with these costs. The first is a tap assistance plan where people could qualify under Housing and Urban Development guidelines to get their tap fee reduced by half or completely waived.

The second is a tap fee repayment plan, which would allow for people to pay back that $4,000 tap fee over a 48-month period.

Purini says that the elderly, disabled, and those with malfunctioning septic tanks in the area will automatically get the tap fee waived.

According to Purini, there are three phases of the project that will have to be completed.

Phase 1 will cost $13.3 million to complete and already has available funding committed to completion, including grants from DHEC, USDA Rural Development, Richland County, and the state Rural Infrastructure Authority.

Phase 2 and 3 will include additional lines and an Eastover waste water facility, with a combining cost of $7.7 million.

Purini says the new system comes on the heels of several septic tanks failing throughout the Lower Richland area.

Lower Richland Boulevard ranks ninth out of 93 communities surveyed in the state on a DHEC priority list for environmentally distressed communities for sewer needs.

For those interested in receiving paperwork to see if they can qualify for any financial help should contact Dan Purini at 803-401-0045.

There will be a motion presented at an upcoming Richland County Council meeting for people who do not fit the criteria for financial assistance, but need help with the costs. 

Council will meet again on July 15 for Regular Session at 6:00pm.

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