Carolina Water Service is pressing Lexington for a hookup to a regional sewer network so the utility can comply with demands to end spills in the lower Saluda River.
The utility is “ready, willing and able to interconnect” but is getting a cold shoulder from Town Hall on that request, company president Richard Durham said in a letter to local officials.
Town officials say a hookup offer is in the works.
If no connection deal is reached, Carolina Water Service will urge state environmental officials to relent and allow its sewage to keep flowing into a river popular for recreation for 15 more years, Durham said.
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The hookup sought would send 800,000 gallons of sewage daily into a regional sewer system running through Lexington from the company’s plant in Oak Grove under fire for spills polluting the river.
A connection offer for Carolina Water Service is being developed, but it’s uncertain whether it can be done the way the utility wants, town Mayor Steve MacDougall said.
“We’re in the process of seeing if that is an option,” he said of the company’s proposal.
Other arrangements are being explored because the plan that the utility is seeking may not possible, he said.
Restrictions in a loan that Town Hall obtained to build its facilities might bar what is effectively a rental of lines to another utility, he said.
Any connection deal probably would go to the state Public Service Commission for approval since the agreement likely would include fees requiring a rate hike, utility and town officials say.
Once a connection is in place, Carolina Water Service is willing to consider the town’s bid to acquire the company’s 3,300 water and sewer customers in two areas near the community, Durham said.
Town Hall’s effort to buy Carolina Water Service’s network will be costly and lengthy, he warned.
Previous talks with other local officials about acquisition ended after disagreement over “the fair market value of the system,” he said.
Company officials decline to say what their asking price is.
MacDougall declined to respond to the company’s suggestion that a takeover will be difficult for Town Hall to accomplish.
Town officials say taking over areas served by the company will provide better environmental protection for the river.
Tim Flach: 803-771-8483