Richland taxpayers to help pay for sewage line replacement

acoyne@thestate.comJune 25, 2013 

Richland County taxpayers will help foot the bill to replace 51/2 miles of aging sewer pipes and add new ones at a Bluff Road wastewater treatment plant.

Richland County Council recently approved a $24.5 million loan for the work at the East Richland County Public Service District plant in Lower Richland.

It will mean a roughly $10 increase for residential customers on a home valued for tax purposes at $100,000, with that money being used to pay back $10 million of the loan, said Richland County administrator Tony McDonald. Current tax rates for a home of that value are $1,994.40 before any credits are applied, Richland County auditor Paul Brawley said.

The remaining loan balance will come from the service district’s revenue. The district’s use fees, $23 monthly for residential customers, will not change, McDonald said.

The district is about 35 square miles in area, bordered by Fort Jackson on its east side and Two Notch Road on the west. It stretches north to Clemson Road and south to Gills Creek Parkway.

That area is “fairly well built out,” and the 30- and 50-year-old pipes that currently serve the district are in bad shape, said Tom Thain, a project manager with URS Corp., which is working on this project.

“It has seen better days,” Thain said. “It’s not in good condition.”

The larger section of pipe is used in the service district’s gravity collection system, transporting sewage from homes and buildings to the district’s wastewater treatment plant off Bluff Road. Many of those pipes were installed at the same time the plant was built, around 50 years ago, Thain said. More pipes were installed in the 1980s, but sewage gases erode the lining of the pipe, which was not discovered until after the pipe installation.

“That started to give them some maintenance problems in the past 10 years,” Thain said.

The new pipes should be able to accommodate future growth in the service district, Thain said.

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