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KCC to Palmetto Utilities: fix Crab Apple Lane

Posted: March 26, 2015 6:23 p.m.
Updated: March 27, 2015 1:00 a.m.
Provided by Kershaw County/

Discharge meant for sandpits owned by Palmetto Utilities is eroding the surface of nearby Crab Apple Lane. Kershaw County Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to make Palmetto responsible for fixing the road and to enforce its discharge permit to keep the road from being further damaged.

On a 6-0 unanimous vote, with Councilman Sammie Tucker Jr. absent, Kershaw County Council passed a motion which, in part, would make Palmetto Utilities of Richland County responsible for repairing Crab Apple Lane and change the way it discharges wastewater to keep the road from being damaged again.

Palmetto Utilities maintains two facilities in Kershaw County. Its treatment plant is on Brazell Lane off Highway Church Road north of I-20 close to the Richland County line. Water treated there is piped several miles away to sandpits located along Crab Apple Lane. Twice, in 2013 and 2014, Palmetto attempted to gain a S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) permit to discharge wastewater directly from its Brazell Lane plant into nearby Spears Creek. The utility sought, but did not receive, support from council to obtain the permit and ultimately withdrew the request. Now, Palmetto Utilities is asking DHEC to grant it a permit to discharge into Spears Creek again, but in Richland County just beyond the Kershaw County line.

Most of Palmetto Utilities’ customers are in Richland County.

According to County Administrator Vic Carpenter, Palmetto Utility’s discharge into the Crab Apple Lane sandpits has damaged the road to the point where it had to be closed. In response to a question from Councilman Jimmy Jones, Carpenter said wastewater runoff eroded the driving surface to the point it was unusable.

“The discharge from the Palmetto Utilities facility washed away Crab Apple Lane to the point that we had to close it about 18 months ago. They (Palmetto Utilities) have submitted a plan to the county for remediation and fixing the road,” Carpenter said. “We have responded back to that with some requests for some minor changes to it that with receiving that, our engineers are comfortable that it would meet the condition of fixing the road. We’re still not in final agreement with them, however, on that situation.”

Tuesday’s vote authorizes Carpenter and Chairman Julian Burns to “enforce the conditions of” Palmetto’s current DHEC permit for the sandpits “involving land application of wastewater in Kershaw County by Palmetto Utilities, Inc., including the violation of the present surface discharge upon the land of Kershaw County and into the streams and waterways of Kershaw County, as well as the trespass upon property of Kershaw County.”

The motion further authorizes Carpenter to conduct due diligence regarding Palmetto Utilities’ new permit request -- actually an amendment to its permit concerning treatment activities at the Brazell Lane plant. According to the motion, Palmetto is seeking to increase capacity from 6 million gallons a day (mgd) to 18 mgd and increase its permitted wastewater treatment capacity in the Wateree River basin -- of which Spears Creek is part -- from 12 mgd to 18 mgd, including discharging 6 mgd into Spears Creek.

Although the motion does not mention whether the discharge would be in Kershaw or Richland counties, Councilman C.R. Miles Jr. said Palmetto is seeking to discharge the wastewater in Richland County. Miles reminded council of Palmetto’s attempt to get permission to discharge the treated wastewater into Kershaw County in 2014.

“He did withdraw that permit, and now they’re going to try to issue the same permit in Richland County to put it into Spears Creek,” Miles said.

Tuesday’s vote also authorizes Carpenter and Burns to “do all acts necessary to preserve the health, well-being and environmental assets of Kershaw County, including opposition on behalf of Kershaw County to the expansion of the Spears Creek wastewater treatment plant and” the issuance of the new 6 mgd discharge Palmetto is requesting. It would also authorize Carpenter and Burns to appeal the issuance of such a permit.

Also Tuesday, council took the final procedural step for the county to take over emergency medical services (EMS), holding three separate public hearings before passing third and final readings on related ordinances authorizing the county to take control of and responsibility for EMS on July 1.

The service currently is supplied by KershawHealth and has been for many years, but with a deal pending for the hospital to be acquired by Capella Healthcare, the hospital and county struck a deal for the county to take over EMS. KershawHealth is providing the county $2.6 million to fund the service until February 2017, when the county can begin collecting taxes or fees-in-lieu-of-taxes from Capella. In exchange, council has agreed to forfeit ownership of all hospital land to KershawHealth.

The first ordinance authorizes the county to transfer the property to KershawHealth. The second authorizes the county to start using some of the $2.6 million to obtain or upgrade facilities and equipment in preparation for the July 1 takeover. That ordinance is necessary because funding EMS is not part of the current fiscal year budget that went into effect last July. Later in the meeting council approved the purchase of two new ambulances for $443,000. The final ordinance gives approval for the formation of an “industrial park” made up of the hospital property, in conjunction with the city of Camden and neighboring Chesterfield County. Carpenter previously said the industrial park is a “paper only” creation, but is legally necessary so the county can offer a fee-in-lieu-of taxes agreement with Capella Healthcare.

Lugoff resident Linda Franklin Moore spoke out against the EMS agreement during the public hearing on relinquishing the hospital property to KershawHealth.

“It is a sad day that we will no longer have a public hospital in our county. This is bad news for economic development and worse news for our citizens. No longer will residents who are uninsured, underinsured or Medicaid patients be able to receive health care in Kershaw County,” Moore claimed. “Typically, for-profit hospitals do not offer services to such patients unless it is a life-threatening situation. Citizens of Kershaw County will be forced to drive to either Sumter, Columbia or West Columbia to receive care. What a sad day, indeed.”

Council also approved several “mutual aid agreements” between the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies in the region. Agreements with Darlington, Florence, Lexington, Fairfield and Richland counties were approved, as was an agreement with 20th Mission Support Group, a U.S. agency that oversees part of Lake Wateree.

In other business, council appointed Anne Lemieux to the Kershaw County Library Board and council approved a modification of the county’s sewer plan to allow the phasing in of what Carpenter called “the southern loop” of the sewer system.

“Some of the benefits of phasing it in, it would allow us to take our existing revenue stream and extend it and build the system as the money is available so we would not need to raise rates for the purpose of building the system, or raise taxes,” Carpenter said. “Staff is requesting a modification to the existing plan.”  

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