Lexington County officials are bewildered about coping with storm water drainage impediments such as landscaping, fences, sheds and playground equipment atop underground pipes in yards.
Getting past those features to the pipes delays work and makes it more costly, public works director Wrenn Barrett said. The county has to move what’s there, then pay to put it back after the work is done on the pipes.
The problem is only getting bigger as steady growth adds more neighborhoods, Barrett said in a report to County Council.
But council members are wary of stirring up protests from homeowners by putting restrictions on where the features creating the problem can be placed.
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“How are you going to keep people from constructing them in your avenue of work?” council Chairman Todd Cullum of Cayce said.
If the county banned anything from being put atop the lines, that probably would force county officials to police yards and to mow grass where the pipes run, tasks Barrett isn’t eager to assume.
For now, public works officials are fixing fences damaged by drainage upkeep even though it’s not required, he said.
Dealing with items placed atop lines is an unexpected challenge since no one keeps track of where they are, County Administrator Joe Mergo said.
“Nobody pays attention to those easements,” Councilman Ned Tolar of West Columbia agreed.
Barrett suggested development standards be revised so builders are required to reroute drainage away from homes to minimize tearing up yards for repairs.
It’s unclear yet if that change would make development more expensive.
Council members agreed to explore what to do but are concerned that a decision or inaction could be equally bad.
“It’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation,” Tolar said. “I don’t see a clear solution.”
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483