State officials say a small private dam in the Midlands presents a safety risk for the nearby community.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control two months ago ordered a small lake in the Columbia suburb of Arcadia Lakes to be drained after finding that its older dam was not safe. In a Thursday meeting, the agency’s board upheld the decision regarding Cooper’s Pond. A DHEC spokesman confirmed the board ordered property owners around the lake to drain the water until the dam is repaired.
So far, the lake’s level has been lowered, but not completely drained. Board members questioned why the agency’s earlier order had not been carried out. Property owners told The State newspaper they do not think they own the 75-year-old dam and will struggle to pay for its repairs.
Instead, they question why the state Department of Transportation is not responsible, since a state-maintained road runs along the top of the dam.
The case is not that unusual in South Carolina. Last year, a dam began leaking in another Midlands suburb of Irmo last year. Every three years, DHEC is required to inspect 150 dams rated as a “high hazard” across the state. These are dams that would present a public danger if they fail, due to their location upstream of homes or other structures.