A recent wastewater spill that caused an ongoing no-swim advisory in Tega Cay is at about 3,000 gallons, city officials said.
On July 31 – one day after Tega Cay Mayor George Sheppard boasted at an annual Chamber of Commerce breakfast that no sewage spills have occurred since the city took over an ailing utility – the city posted on its website that a no-swimming advisory was issued following a sewer force main rupture earlier in the day.
The advisory was for the cove between Tega Place and Cattail Bluff, near Bora Bora Lane.
Later that day, the city posted an update saying the force main ruptured “due to a repair clamp being improperly installed by Utilities, Inc.” Utilities, Inc. is the parent company of what used to be known as Tega Cay Water Service.
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The update promised more information as it was available, including when the city lifts the no swim advisory. City Manger Charlie Funderburk said the no swim advisory is still in effect.
“The no swim advisory is still in effect and will remain effective until such time that our lake samples come back indicating it is safe again and (the state health department) confirms the test results,” Funderburk said.
“We have been submitting lake samples every day for testing and the last results appear to indicate that the advisory can be lifted in next few days.”
In June, the city purchased Tega Cay Water Service – which has since been re-named Tega Cay Utility Dept. II – and part of the concern with that transaction was the city taking on infrastructure “as-is,” Funderburk said. Repeated sewage spills led to residents and environmental regulators calling for change, prompting the city’s purchase of the system. The latest spill seems, Funderburk said, to be the result of a preexisting condition.
“We were able to excavate the pipe to determine that the break was caused by a temporary repair clamp that wasn’t installed properly and finally failed,” he said. “The clamp was installed prior to the city taking ownership.”
TCUD II serves 1,700 residents in the city’s older section. About 1,500 customers in Tega Cay’s newer homes are served by TCUD.
Repair responsibility for this and future incidents fall on the city, a condition city leaders factored into their decision to purchase TCWS. The ongoing fix exposed an underground power line nearby, so the city installed a new repair clamp until Duke Energy can move the power line for a permanent sewer line fix.
Funderburk said even with more than nine inches of rainfall — Tega Cay Water Service often cited heavy rains for spills — since the city took over the system, there hasn’t been a rain-induced sewage spill since.
At the July 30 State of the Community Breakfast held this year in Tega Cay, Sheppard announced with pride the lack of spills since the city acquired the utility, but he was referencing the backups and spills that occurred during rain storms. The mayor explained that city workers have taken care to redistribute wastewater in the various lines during storms to keep any one from backing up. Funderburk also praised staff for its work since the city took over the private utility.
“Our utility employees have done a remarkable job,” Funderburk said.
“We are hopeful that trend will continue until such time that we are able to begin our capital improvements. The city is committed to improving the efficiencies and operation of the system and will continue to work to that end,” he said.