Columbia Set to Spend $750 to Improve Sewer System

5:28 PM, Sep 11, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX)  -- The City of Columbia has agreed to spend $750 million to upgrade it's aging sewer system.

The deal reached between the City and federal regulators will improve the sewer system. Some of the pipes have been in place since the early 1900's, and have caused issues for some around the City. 

"It's a rotten sewer smell," said Columbia resident Rusty Knowlton. "I don't know many people that don't know what a sewer smells like."

Knowlton has called the same place home for the past 26-years, but he says there's an occasional problem inside and outside of his home. 

"It's really bad," Knowlton said. "But it's a sewer smell and we've considering calling a plumber because it's been doing it more and more lately."

"It'll just mysteriously appear sometimes."

The aging sewer lines will be improved over the next 10 years, according to Joey Jaco, Director of Columbia's Department of Utilities and Engineering.

Jaco said he had been given the time frame by consultants.

"We lay out a plan of how we're going to do the condition assessment," Jaco said. "Then once that plan's approved, then we actually implement the condition assessment."

Immediate plans call for improvements at pump stations and at the City's treatment plant.

"The early action projects are the only projects that are specifically called out for in the consent decree," Jaco said. "What the consent decree does require us to do - it requires us to do a condition assessment of our system."

Last fiscal year saw 131 recorded sewage overflows inside city limits. Jaco said part of the assessment will be improvements on mapping and understanding more localized capacities.

"This is a mechanism to make sure that the sanitary overflow issues are addressed but the city has been addressing them for some time now," Jaco said.

The proposal still needs final court approval.

If finalized, the City must also spend $1 million on water quality and stream cleanup efforts. Those projects would be given three years for completion.


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