The Department of Health and Environmental Services says the situation is better after a few days of rain causing sewage overflows in Richland County and Columbia as well as several other counties. Spokesman Thom Berry says his department has not received anymore reports of backups or overflows. Utilities began cleaning the waters on Wednesday. DHEC has posted warning signs near entries midland’s rivers asking swimmers and boaters to be aware of the possibility of contaminated water.
DHEC’s Tom Berry said they began hearing from Midlands areas utilities midday on Wednesday. ” These types of overflows do happen from time to time,” said Berry. “Mostly manhole covers being lifted off and raw sewage coming out–we see that whenever there is a heavy amount of rainfall in a short period of time.”
Officials say the storm pushed more than 80 million gallons of waste water through the city’s treatment center, tripling what the city usually treats in a day.
Agency officials urged the public to avoid kayaking, canoeing or swimming in the area where warning signs are posted.
“We’ve done some spot checks in other parts of the state,” said Berry, “and other than one isolated situation in Greenville, we haven’t had any other problems reported to us. It seems to be primarily concentrated in the midlands area, and that is often because of the heavy amount of rainfall that we have received, and the fact that we have three major bodies of water that come together in the Columbia area.”
The Broad, Saluda and Congaree Rivers all flow into Columbia.