2017 Sewer Spill Report

For the last five years Congaree Riverkeeper has compiled and analyzed data from DHEC's sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) database to produce a report on the previous year's sewer spills. In 2017 there were 203 reported sewer spills resulting in more than 750,000 gallons of sewage spilled in the Congaree Riverkeeper jurisdictional area, a significant reduction in SSO volume from previous years.

2017 Sewer Spill Summary

For the first time since we started publishing the annual SSO report the total spill volume for the Congaree Riverkeeper watersheds is less that one million gallons. One of the significant causes of the reduced spill volume appears to be a significant reduction in spill volume from the City of Columbia, especially a reduction in the large spills that have impacted Crane Creek for the last several years.

Important Notes:

  • The 2017 summary table above only represents the reported spills within the Congaree Riverkeeper jurisdictional area.  Several sewer providers had additional spills impacting other waters in the Midlands, including Lake Murray (Town of Chapin, Carolina Water Service, City of Columbia, and Richland County Utilities) and the Wateree River watershed (Palmetto Utilities Inc, and Town of Winnsboro).
  • The reported SSO volumes are estimates and are based on field observations and a number of assumptions, including spill duration and flow rates. Spill volumes are often underreported or reported inaccurately. Despite these issues, the SSO volumes in this report are still very helpful in understanding and addressing sewer spill issues in our region.
  • Most sewer providers are only required to report spills that are over 500 gallons or that impact a waterbody. The City of Columbia is required by their consent decree to report all of their spills, no matter the volume or impacted area.

Top Ten Reported Sewer Spills

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SSO Hotspots

Crane Creek – As in past years, Crane Creek, a tributary to the Broad River, was the number one SSO hotspot with several large spills impacting the creek. But, the City of Columbia completed a multi-year sewer line replacement project along the creek in 2017 and there has not been a significant spill reported there since April.

Lake Katherine / Gills Creek – Lake Katherine, in the Gills Creek watershed, is the number two SSO hotspot with spills regularly occurring whenever we receive any significant rainfall. The City of Columbia is working on a sewer project that they hope will resolve the SSO issues. The project is expected to be completed within the next two years.

Top SSO Volumes From Around the State

Past SSO Reports

Click on the year to view sewer spill reports from previous years: 20162015, 2014, 2013.