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Tega Cay Gets Sewage Spills Under Control

Courtesy of the Tega Cay Water Citizens Advisory Council

In South Carolina, Tega Cay has largely resolved what leaders say has been a black eye for the city – repeated sewage spills.

Tega Cay is a small city near Fort Mill that had an outsized sewage problem for much of the past few years.

"It seemed like every time there was a half inch of rain or better, we were getting reports of sewer overflows," City Manager Charlie Funderburk says.

Some spills were as large as 100-thousand gallons, and they often hit Lake Wylie not far from the North Carolina border. Funderburk says they didn't impact drinking water, but they did lead South Carolina regulators to declare no-swim zones.

The state fined the private company in charge of sewage treatment. But the spills kept happening, and Funderburk says city leaders couldn't force the company to make changes.

"It was one of the largest entities in the city, and we had no control over it," he says.

So the city decided to buy out the company and take over sewage treatment. It finalized that purchase in June for $6.5 million.

Funderburk says the city did not have to cut services to make the purchase, but it did raise residents' sewer rates about 6 percent. (The city is using revenue off water and sewer bills to pay off the bonds it took out for the purchase.)

Since June, Funderburk says there have been almost no spills, and the biggest was 3,000 gallons – tiny compared to before. 

"The daily maintenance, operation and maintenance of the system, has really been the key to what has helped that system turn the corner in a short period of time," he says. "But we still got a lot of work ahead of us."

Funderburk says the city tripled its staff in the field fixing sewer lines and handling other maintenance. He says Tega Cay is planning major infrastructure repairs this spring.