Saluda River Swimming Advisory Update

 

Update 7/7/16

After 17 days DHEC has lifted the swimming advisory for the Saluda River near Saluda Shoals Park.

From DHEC's press release:
"We have been performing daily sampling along the section of river that was impacted by improperly treated wastewater, along with the effluent being discharged from the facility, and found that bacteria levels have returned to consistently satisfactory levels," said David Baize, chief of DHEC's Bureau of Water.

You can read the full press release here: http://www.scdhec.gov/Agency/NewsReleases/2016/nr20160707-01/

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Update 7/1/16

The swimming advisory remains in effect. If the proposed repairs work and the sample results show consistently safe bacteria levels at the discharge and in the river the advisory may be lifted sometime this weekend.

Several people have asked if there is anything they can do to demand action or who they should contact to voice their concerns. Here are a few things you can do to help ensure that Carolina Water Service is held accountable for their actions:

  • Contact your elected officials including the Governor, your State Senator and State Representative.  Call, email or send a letter and ask them what they plan to do to protect our rivers and how they plan to deal with chronic law breaking polluters like CWS. You can contact the Governor's office here, and find your State Senator and Representative here.
  • File a complaint with the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS). ORS is charged with representing the public interest of South Carolina in utility regulation for the major utility industries (including water/wastewater) before the PSC, the court system, the S.C. General Assembly, and federal regulatory bodies. You can file a complaint with ORS here.
  • Contact the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and demand that they take a significant and appropriate enforcement action against Carolina Water Service. You can find DHEC's general contact information here.

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Update 6/30/16

The swimming advisory remains in effect. While DHEC samples indicate that conditions in the river downstream of the CWS Friarsgate discharge have improved and are at safe levels, they are still observing elevated bacteria levels at the discharge. The agency is hopeful that repairs to be implemented today will resolve the issue and they will be able to lift the advisory soon.

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The Saluda River Swimming Advisory issued by DHEC on June 21st remains in effect.

DHEC water quality sampling showed high bacteria levels in the Saluda River near Saluda Shoals Park and an investigation revealed the source to be undertreated wastewater coming from the Carolina Water Service (CWS) Friarsgate WWTP discharge.

CWS issued a statement claiming that the problem at the facility had been fixed on June 22nd and operations resumed on June 23rd.  

DHEC continues to collect water quality samples in the area. Recent samples still show elevated bacteria levels at the CWS Friarsgate discharge.

When samples consistently show that bacteria has returned to a safe level DHEC will lift the swim advisory.  Until that time river users may want to avoid contact recreation (swimming, wading, tubing and paddling) in the area below the CWS Friarsgate discharge (the area downstream of the Saluda Shoals and Hope Ferry boat ramps). From DHEC: "Recreational activities that involve submersion in the river where there is a possibility of swallowing water should be avoided. People with open cuts or wounds should also avoid contact with the water."

In addition to the release of untreated sewage, an incident report from the National Response Center (via Skytruth) indicates that CWS also spilled 165 gallons of Sodium Hypochlorite during their attempted repairs on June 23rd.

We will continue to post updates as information becomes available.

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Press Coverage:

6/28 - The State Newspaper - No-swim advisory still in effect as troubles continue at Irmo sewer plant

6/28 - WLTX - The Push to Get Carolina Water Service Out

6/25 - The State Newspaper - Pollution at riverside park brings renewed criticism of utility

6/23 - The State Newspaper - SC regulators were warned about pollution at Saluda River park in May

6/23 - ABC Columbia - Ten months later, CWS I-20 discharge continues into Saluda River

6/23 - WACH Fox - Despite temporary fix, swimming advisory remains in effect for portion of Saluda River

6/22 - The State Newspaper - Unsafe bacteria levels disrupt swimming, tube rentals at Saluda Shoals

6/22 - WACH Fox - Advisory still in effect due to high bacteria levels in Saluda River

6/21 - The State Newspaper - Sewage problems spark no-swimming advisory at Saluda River park

 

CWS Friarsgate Discharge, 2014

 

Sampling the CWS Friarsgate discharge, 2015.

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