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County, Elgin team up to keep waters clean
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Clean water is something that can easily be taken for granted, however there are government programs in place to help enforce practices to ensure that the water supply stays clean and uncontaminated. The Kershaw County Stormwater Management program, however, aims to significantly reduce water pollutants that enter local streams, lakes and other bodies of water.

Elgin is just one example.

Different aspects of a stormwater management program include public education, pollution prevention, managing permits for construction and mapping discharges into water ways.

The town of Elgin came under such a permit nearly 13 years ago.

“Around the year 2000, Elgin came under the terms of this permit … Elgin got brought in because of its close proximity to Columbia,” Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter said.

According to the stormwater management update, Municipal Separate Storm Systems (such as the one Elgin is in) are comprised of towns that share a common network of pipes and storm sewers that run storm water drainage from the town.

Kershaw County manages the Stormwater Management Program for Elgin by handling issues that may arise, keeping Elgin informed on permits and accepting responsibility for paperwork.

In turn, the town of Elgin works to ensure that guidelines for the Stormwater Management Program are being met. An example is a proposed ordinance discussed at Elgin Town Council’s August meeting requiring that car washes held for a charity must use biodegradable detergent.

Elgin included this in the ordinance in order to meet requirements established by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control and the U.S. Clean Water Act of 1972.

“We want to make sure that people understand the harmful impact that their activities could have on our water system,” Carpenter said about the importance of public education regarding the Stormwater management system.

Overall, pollutant reduction benefits the community as a whole and, according to the Stormwater Management Program Update, leads to reducing local flooding, improved stream and lake health for recreational purposes and helps in providing clean drinking water.

Nevertheless, enjoying these community benefits depend on how individuals, yard by yard, personally implement clean water practices.

Carpenter compares water systems to a living organism. If an artery is clogged or damaged, the health of the entire body is affected. The same holds true for the water systems.

“We want people to understand that what they do in their yard impacts the larger water system. What you do in your yard does not stop there,” Carpenter said.

The heavy rainfall from the past few weeks has resulted in an increase of water flow to local bodies of water highlighting the importance of the need for clean water practices.

“We’ve been dealing with flooding and drainage issues, especially with all of the rain lately. A lot of this is caused by older systems from the ’60s to the ’70s,” Carpenter said.

Fertilization run off, pet waste and improperly disposed of motor oil are examples of common substances that can easily find their way into storm drains.

When not disposed of properly, these substances can result in contaminated water.

Hard, paved surfaces prevents this water from soaking into the ground and can result in water running too quickly into a body of water before it has the opportunity to filter through the ground.

Stormwater management programs, which are mandated by the Clean Water Act, are designed to ensure that areas with urban growth abide by regulations designed to promote and establish clean water.

Elgin Town Council will further discuss the proposed charity car wash ordinance at its meeting Tuesday.