Overflowing manholes sent about 5,000 gallons of sewage into a person’s yard, a stormwater basin and a Saluda River tributary from two separate spills Sunday and Monday, according to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Alpine Utilities Inc., which has had a recent history of sewer spills, owns the manholes that overflowed.
DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick said the spills have been cleaned up and Alpine’s contractor is sampling Stoops Creek for signs of pollution. Stoops Creek feeds the Saluda River in the St. Andrews-Irmo area. Lime was used to help with the cleanup.
“Up to this point, as far as we’ve been able to determine, Alpine has acted exactly as it should have, and has done everything that is required of it,’’ Myrick said.
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Myrick said much of the sewage went into a yard, with little apparently reaching Stoops Creek.
Alpine’s contractor, E.A. Services, referred calls to the utility. Alpine executive Robin Dial said contractors are investigating the cause of the problem. It could have resulted from a tree root or grease blocking the sewer flow and causing it to back up in manholes, he said. Company officials are using television cameras in the sewer lines to see if they can find the problem, Dial said.
Dial noted that the sewer spills did not come from the company’s treatment plant. The plant’s operations have been under scrutiny from river advocates and DHEC since up to 1 million gallons of partially treated wastewater spilled in July 2008.
The small utility serves about 5,500 homes and businesses. It has been fined $39,000 in the past two years by state and federal regulators for the 2008 spill. “This was simply a collection system problem where a blockage occurred in the line,’’ Dial said. “Whether it was due to grease in the line, whether it was due to roots or somebody putting a teddy bear in the line -- whatever got into the line caused a blockage.’’