On Tuesday night, the Tega Cay city council voted to purchase private sewage-treatment plants that have been regularly polluting Lake Wylie in York County, South Carolina with raw sewage – and the price tag is nearly $6 million.
The Tega Cay council members voted unanimously to purchase the Tega Cay Water Service on Tuesday night.
Mayor George Sheppard says the city needed to step in.
"The citizens of Tega Cay don't have any trust in Utilities, Inc. anymore – that Utilities, Inc. will do the right thing," Sheppard says. "The citizens of Tega Cay do have the trust in their elected officials or they wouldn't have elected us. This is probably the most important issue that has faced the city for 30 years, and hopefully we'll be able to come to a resolution on it."
Since 2011, the company reported more than 90 sewage spills – many of them entering Lake Wylie and putting parts of the lake off-limits to swimmers.
The state fined the company $136,000 in February and $60,000 three years ago.
In February, the company that owns Tega Cay Water Service, Utilities Incorporated, offered to sell its operations for nearly $8 million dollars.
That amount was negotiated down to $5.8 million. Tega Cay Water Service serves 1,700 customers.
One of them is Linda Stevenson. She helped form an advisory council a few years ago to hold the company accountable.
"I've never lived in a place where every other week you have to boil your water," Stevenson says. "I've never lived in a place where I had sewage spill in my house. See it going into a lake and take pictures of it, hundreds of thousands of gallons."
The sale is expected to be finalized within the next 60 days. But Tega Cay will have another expense: the cost of fixing the plants.