Congaree Riverkeeper Wins Federal Lawsuit Against Carolina Water Service

On Thursday (March 30th) a federal court ruled in favor of Congaree Riverkeeper in a citizen Clean Water Act lawsuit brought against private sewer company Carolina Water Service (CWS). The court ruled that the Carolina Water Service I-20 wastewater treatment plant has been violating the Clean Water Act by discharging pollution into the Saluda River and violating the terms of their NPDES permit.

August Water Quality Results

On August 4th and 5th we conducted another round of water quality sampling.  Nine sites on our rivers and urban streams were sampled for E. coli bacteria.  Only one sample site came back with result above the state standard; Stoops Creek, a tributary to the Lower Saluda River.  Stoops Creek is the site of the Alpine Utilities Wastewater Plant discharge, and also has a history of sewer spills and urban runoff issues.

May 2015 Water Quality Monitoring Results

Congaree Riverkeeper Files Clean Water Act Lawsuit

Congaree Riverkeeper, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, today filed suit in federal court to stop unlawful sewage discharges into the Saluda River near Columbia, S.C.  The complaint is directed at the Carolina Water Service I-20 facility, which has repeatedly exceeded pollution limits and failed to tie into a nearby modern regional treatment system that was built over a decade ago.

Lower Richland Sewer Project

Over the last month Richland County has held several public meetings to discuss their plans to expand sewer service to the lower portion of the county.  This plan, which will be funded primarily through a grant and loan from the USDA’s Rural Development Program, is an important step in addressing failing wastewater infrastructure and improving water quality in Lower Richland.

June Water Quality Monitoring Results

Our second round of water quality sampling for 2014 was conducted on June 19th and 20th.  All seven sites were sampled for bacteria and three sites were also sampled for nutrients and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).  Three sites exceeded the state standards for bacteria, including Stoops Creek, which had the highest levels of fecal coliform and E. coli.  You can view all the results below.

Stop The Pollution Amnesty Act

UPDATE: Because of our efforts and the work of our conservation partners H.3925 didn't even come to a vote on the Senate floor this legislative session.  While this was a victory for our environment and the citizens of South Carolina, it is very likely this bill will come up again next year and we must be ready to fight it again.


March Water Quality Monitoring Results

Our first round of water quality sampling in 2014 was conducted on March 20th and 21st.  The results from the 7 sites we sampled are below.  The sampling again revealed E. coli exceedances at the Broad River and Smith Branch sample sites.  The state standard for fecal coliform bacteria is 400 colonies per 100 mL and the standard for E. coli is 349.


2014 List of Impaired Waters

Every two years the Clean Water Act, specifically section 303(d), requires states to develop a list of waterbodies that don’t meet water quality standards. The list is developed primarily from DHEC’s water quality sampling data, as well as some data collected by outside organizations. It includes a location, the use that is impaired, and the cause of the impairment.

2013 Sewer Spill Summary

Sewer spills, also referred to as sanitary sewer overflows or SSOs occur when raw sewage is discharged from a sewer collection system and are one of the top water quality concerns in the Midlands.  SSOs, because they contain raw sewage, can result in serious public health concerns as well as ecological damage to streams and rivers.


Sewer Spills on the Lower Saluda River

December Water Quality Monitoring Results

At the end of December we conducted our sixth round of water quality sampling.  The results from the 7 sites we sampled are below.  The sampling revealed E. coli exceedances at Richland County's Broad River Wastewater Plant and on the Congaree River.  The state standard for fecal coliform bacteria is 400 colonies per 100 mL and the standard for E. coli is 349.


Dirty Half Dozen List Update

In April of this year Congaree Riverkeeper published our first Dirty Half Dozen List identifying what we believe to be the six worst permitted polluters in our area.  Since publishing the list there has been significant progress on bringing several of these polluters back into compliance.  Below is an update on the top four polluters from our list.

The City of Columbia

City of Columbia to Consider Proposed Consent Decree

On Tuesday (8/13/13) Columbia City Council will take the first vote to authorize the execution of a proposed consent decree with the EPA, DHEC and US Department of Justice.  This consent decree addresses alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and the South Carolina Pollution Control Act associated with the City’s wastewater collection and treatment system, including numerous Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) and NPDES Permit violations.  The original notice of violation was issued by the EPA in 2009 and the agencies have been negotiating with the City since 2010. 

June Water Quality Monitoring Results

In late June Congaree Riverkeeper conducted our fourth round of water quality sampling.  The results from the 7 sites we sampled are below.  Since South Carolina recently transitioned from fecal coliform to E. Coli as the indicator for bacteria we have added E. Coli to our sampling.  South Carolina water quality regulations state that for a single sample, for freshwaters, E. Coli should not exceed 349/100ml .

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 in

March Water Quality Monitoring Results

In March Congaree Riverkeeper conducted our third round of water quality sampling.  In addition to the six sites we have previously sampled we added a new sample site on Gills Creek.  The results from the March sampling, as well as the past results, are listed below.


Update: Congaree River Tar Cleanup

Cleanup alternatives proposed, public meeting set

Top Issues to Watch in 2013

As we look ahead into the new year we know there will be a number of issues Congaree Riverkeeper will have to address.  Below are a few of the issues we expect to deal with in 2013.

Parr/Fairfield Hydro Relicensing

December Water Quality Monitoring Results

In December we conducted our second round of sampling for our water quality monitoring program.  We sampled six sites for fecal coliform bacteria and also sampled the three river sites for nutrients (Phosphorous and Nitrogen) and biological oxygen demand (BOD5).  The results from the December sampling, as well as the September results, are listed below.

Riverkeeper Spots Illegal Discharge

Earlier today (July 13th) Congaree Riverkeeper spotted a sedimentation problem in Rocky Branch near Maxcy Gregg Park.  Following the creek we were able to track the sediment source back to a stormwater pipe near the pedestrian bridge that crosses the creek in the park.  Just up from this pipe contractors were working on the Maxcy Gregg Pool.  After speaking with the workers they admitted that they opened a manhole and pumped sediment laden water into the pipe, which drains to Rocky Branch.  We contacted the City of Columbia Stormwater Department and they began an officia

Runoff from Cayce Quarry


On Monday December 19th Congaree Riverkeeper was alerted of a pollution problem affecting the Congaree River.  While walking on the Cayce portion of the riverwalk a concerned citizen noticed milky white water flowing into Monkey Springs Creek and then into the river.  She contacted Congaree Riverkeeper and sent photos of the problem.  We followed up on the report and were able to trace the problem to the Cayce Quarry.  Officials at the quarry, which is operated by Martin Marietta Materials, investigated the problem with us and were quick to respond.