RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - Richland County is planning some big improvements to stop pollution into a Midlands river.
On Thursday night, the county voted to fund those upgrades to address concerns raised by DHEC about discharges into the Broad River from a county water treatment plant, the Broad River Wastewater Treatment Plant on Shadywood Lane near Irmo. The treatment plant serves about 12,000 customers in Irmo, Ballentine, and Harbison.
DHEC says the plant has reported three fecal coliform violations since the beginning of last year.
The Congaree Riverkeeper says he also samples around where that wastewater is going into the Broad River, and he too has noticed levels of fecal coliform bacteria that are concerning. The county plant is in the spotlight of DHEC, and DHEC regulators have ordered the county to fix a number of problems related to that pollution.
Well, Thursday night in a special called meeting the county agreed to spend about $1.5 million to fix the problem -- and that's just phase one to "increase reliability, efficiency, and controls" at the plant. That work should be done by next March, but the county says phases two and three will happen over the next several years.
Councilman Seth Rose says it's a good development.
"That 1.5 million will come out of the Fund Balance, which was a fund that was set aside in case there was an emergency. Meaning taxes won't be raised because of the allocation of this money. The 1.5 will allow for what's currently at the facility to be fixed," Councilman Rose said.
Rose also said the public doesn't need to be concerned about drinking water because of the violations. The Riverkeeper, Bill Stangler, tends to agree with that and said the bigger concerns surround what it's doing to recreation and the river's ecology.
The county adds that, right now, the plant "does not appear to pose an issue to public health." As for the most recent fecal coliform bacteria violation that got the county in some trouble with DHEC, the state agency says it was due to "a failed power breaker" and was immediately resolved.