Midlands legislators are urging South Carolina’s environmental agency not to grant a critical permit for a Lexington sewage treatment facility that discharges into a river just upstream from Columbia’s riverfront.
A bipartisan group of Richland and Lexington County lawmakers held a press conference Monday against Carolina Water Services’ discharge permit. The company is seeking approval from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to continue treated wastewater discharges into the Saluda River, but conservation groups (most notably the Congaree Riverkeeper organization) have organized public opposition to the permit, citing dozens of violations for Carolinas and its parent company Utilities, Inc., the last 20 years.
On Monday, the group of lawmakers noted DHEC had initially ordered the small facility to connect with a regional wastewater network. But negotiations between the company and the town of Lexington have not reached an agreement. CWS’s permit expired years ago, but regulators have allowed it to continue operating while they deal with a large backlog at the agency.
“What you see is both sides of the aisle, both sides of this river, coming together to speak with one voice: to say no,” State Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, said.