Town of Lexington turns on the pumps, starts a new era after years of issues with Carolina Water Ser

Lexington, SC (Paul Kirby) – Today, the Town of Lexington flipped the switch on their pumps, closed and outfall gate, and brought to an end a decades long controversy regarding Carolina Water Service discharging treated sewage into the Lower Saluda River. According to a town official, as of today, all of the 2,000 plus sewer customers that were serviced by the CWS’ outdated plant now have their waste water being sent to the City of Cayce’s state-of-the-art plant on the Congaree.

There still are some details to be worked out, most importantly how much Lexington will have to pay CWS for the old plant, but today’s move is a “huge deal,” according to Lexington’s Mayor Steve MacDougall. Lexington took the plant through condemnation after they and CWS couldn’t agree on its worth. At some point a judge will have to decide what Lexington should pay CWS. Lexington officials have said all along that acquiring the facility isn’t about money, it’s about servicing the customers, the Saluda River and all the people who enjoy it. As of right now, Lexington isn’t using the plant and is in the early stages of doing away with it completely.

For years, environmental groups and others questioned the quality of the treated water that CWS was dumping into the Lower Saluda. Many said it wasn’t properly treated and was polluting the pristine waterway. In August of 2016, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the government agency that regulates water quality in our state, denied CWS' renewal of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for the I-20 Wastewater Treatment Plant. They said in a statement explaining their action, “To protect public health and ensure uninterrupted service for the plant's 2,000 customers, DHEC also issued administrative orders directing the Town of Lexington and CWS to develop a coordinated transition plan to safely shut down the facility and eliminate wastewater discharge into the Saluda River.” That denial was a key component of the process of transitioning the plant to Lexington, which happened today, and stopping the discharge into the Saluda.

See DHEC Release Here: CLICK

Closing a plant of this type isn’t easy or done overnight. There’s sludge there that has to be de-watered and then disposed of. This is just one part of the process of doing away with the old plant and its remnants. Eventually, there should be little to see at the plant because much of what transfers the waste water to Cayce is underground or just large pipes and valves.

We will continue to closely follow the case through the courts to let you know how it progresses. At some point, a dollar figure will be settled on and we will report on that figure as it’s decided.

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