Saluda County scraps sewer, water deals

tflach@thestate.comFebruary 15, 2013 

— A partnership to expand water and sewer service on the west edge of Lake Murray fell apart Thursday.

Saluda County officials called for ending a pair of deals with Batesburg-Leesville to upgrade utility services.

“These projects are not viable under the present circumstance and the two agreements should be terminated,” G.P. Callison, lawyer for the Saluda County Water and Sewer Authority, said in a letter to town officials.

Batesburg-Leesville leaders agree cancellation is warranted after a decade of trying to make the plans work.

Sentiment is strong to scrap both “in a heartbeat even though it’s a disappointment after all the time spent to make it happen,” Mayor James Wiszowaty said.

The separate ventures unraveled for different reasons.

Protests from environmentalists and paddlers at the prospect of more pollution flowing into the nearby Edisto River stalled sewer expansion that included waste from chicken farms as well as replacing leaky septic tanks in scattered neighborhoods.

“If this finally resolves the effort we’ve opposed, it’s a very, very significant victory for a lot of people who worked hard to keep the Edisto pristine,” said Tim Rogers, a Columbia lawyer who heads Friends of the Edisto.

Town Hall will improve sewage disposal gradually as wanted by environmental groups, Wiszowaty said.

The other venture — to build a Saluda County facility to take water from Lake Murray and share it — stalled when the project became too expensive.

Batesburg-Leesville now will look at other ways to go to the lake for drinking water.

“That’s always been Plan B,” Wiszowaty said.

Saluda County will continue sending sewage to facilities in the Savannah River Valley while it continues to seek a source of more water.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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