Dirty Half Dozen List

Point source pollution describes pollution that comes from a single known location, like a pipe from a wastewater plant.  The Clean Water Act requires point sources of pollution to have a permit through the NPDES program and also requires permittees to do regular monitoring of their discharges.  After analysis of the EPA’s Enforcement & Compliance History Online (ECHO) database as well as thousands of pages of documents received from DHEC through freedom of information requests Congaree Riverkeeper has compiled a list of what we believe to be the six worst permitted polluters in our watersheds.  The polluters on this list have had multiple NPDES permit violations over the last several years and are significant contributors to pollution problems on our rivers.

1. The City of Columbia
The City of Columbia tops our list as the worst permitted polluter in our area.  They have had over 40 NPDES permit violations over the last three years at the metro wastewater treatment plant, including multiple violations for fecal coliform bacteria, ammonia, and suspended solids.  The city is also responsible for numerous sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) that have resulted in tens of thousands of gallons of untreated sewage entering our waterways.  The City has been in negotiations with the EPA and the US Department of Justice for the last two years over this issue, though a conclusion is still pending.

2. Carolina Water Service
Carolina Water Service is a private utility company that operates four wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in our area.  Each of these facilities has had at least one permit violation in the last three years.  Two facilities, the I-20 WWTP on the Saluda River and the Glenn Village WWTP on a tributary to Congaree Creek, have had violations for fecal coliform bacteria that were more than 40 times the amount allowed in their permits.  Along with the violations there are serious questions about the permit status of the I-20 WWTP.  It is currently operating under an outdated permit and was scheduled to eliminate its discharge into the Saluda River more than a decade ago.

3. Richland One School District
Three Richland One schools in lower Richland County operate their own wastewater treatment facilities and each of these facilities has had multiple permit violations.  They have combined for more than 30 violations over the last three years including, but not limited to, violations for fecal coliform bacteria and biological oxygen demand (BOD5).   These facilities discharge into tributaries of Cedar Creek upstream of Congaree National Park.  Inside the National Park Cedar Creek is designated as an Outstanding Natural Resource Water (one of the few water bodies with this designation in the state).  These discharges pose a threat to Cedar Creek and its recreational and ecological value.

4. Town of Lexington – Coventry Woods WWTP
The Town of Lexington’s Coventry Woods wastewater treatment plant discharges into Twelvemile Creek, a tributary to the Saluda River.  It has had several recent NPDES permit violations including violations for Copper and Di-n-octyl phthalate (a plasticizer used in industrial and household products).  In addition to these violations the Coventry Woods WWTP was supposed to tie into the regional sewer system and cease its discharge several years ago.

5. Calhoun County - SC DOT I-26 Rest Area
In 2010 Calhoun County took over operation of the wastewater treatment facility for the South Carolina Department of Transportation's I-26 rest area.  This facility discharges into Savany Hunt Creek, a tributary to the Congaree River.   It has had almost twenty permit violations in the last three years including recent violations for phosphorus and fecal coliform bacteria.

6. DAK Americas
The DAK Americas facility on the Congaree River (formerly Carolina Eastman) produces commercial plastic products.  This facility has had several NPDES permit violations over the last three years including violations for suspended solids and multiple violations for biological oxygen demand (BOD5).