Blue Granite Water apologizes to customers about Lake Murray sewer system spill

Blue Granite Water apologizes to customers about Lake Murray sewer system spill

LAKE MURRAY, S.C. (WIS) - The president of Blue Granite Water Company apologized to customers who live on Lake Murray after an incident at a treatment plant in Lexington recently came to light.

The company, formerly Carolina Water Service, said it will hold itself accountable.

WIS found out a sewer system spill happened on Lake Murray back in December of last year.

On Dec. 9, officials said 28,880 gallons of fully-treated wastewater spilled into the lake from a Lexington water service plant, according to the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

The spill came from the Watergate treatment plant, which is near the vicinity of Spence’s Point.

DHEC said there was no health risk and that the spill was fully-treated waste water. Blue Granite Water followed the proper procedures when they reported the spill, DHEC confirmed.

But residents in the area said they were shocked they weren’t notified.

The president of the Blue Granite Water Company, Catherine Heigel, said she can understand why the residents who knew nothing about the spill would be upset.

“I don’t know why they didn’t call us," customer Charlie Branham said. "We pay every month, and we pay good money for our water.”

Branham lives near Lake Murray and says he was never publicly informed about a wastewater spill near his property.

DHEC backed up the decision to not send an advisory by saying “the discharge was fully treated, meaning there was no raw or partially treated wastewater that would have posed a risk to public health or the environment.”

DHEC also said a repair was made to a pump and normal operations returned within 24 hours.

But residents WIS spoke with said they want to know about all sewer spills.

“I think that’s our decision to decide if we want to be in the water or not,” Branham said.

When asked if she would have wanted to know about the spill Heigel said, “absolutely, and that's the way we need to operate.”

She added: “My message to those customers is I’m sorry, we can do better and we will do better."

While the company complied with all of DHEC’s regulations reporting the spill, Heigel says they now are looking at better ways to communicate with their customers.

“Before they changed their name, we definitely had some issues," Branham said. "Hopefully Blue Granite will do a better job of what was happening before.”

Access Analytical tested the water from the spill and the results showed the e.coli levels were safe per DHEC’s regulations.

Biologist Ashley Amick owns Access Analytical. She said consumers should put the spill into perspective.

A 28,880-gallon spill is not that big, considering Lake Murray holds a reported 763 billion gallons of water, Amick said.

“When you have unusual amounts of rainfall that just overwhelms sewer systems, that can cause an overflow," Amick explained. "And then the other side of that is just breakage of components within a sewer system.”

Heigel said Blue Granite should be accountable.

“It’s up to the company to make sure we are making the right investments in our equipment, in our pipes, in our system to ensure the integrity of the flows," she said.

The Watergate treatment plant was built back in 1973. Heigel said it’s at the end of its life and she would like to interconnect the plant according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act.

The Town of Lexington is the only designated regional wastewater treatment provider for the Watergate facility.

When WIS reached out to the mayor of Lexington, Steve MacDougall, he said he does not want to interconnect, instead town council is making plans to take it over.

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