Sewer line raises a stink

  • Thursday, June 5, 2014

Something is rotten in Givhans — or rather, underneath it

Several Givhans residents appeared before Dorchester County Council during its June 2 meeting to air concerns about a sewer line recently installed along SC 27 from Bridlewood Farms subdivision to SC 61.

According to residents, noxious fumes building up in the system are escaping into the air via release valves placed along the line.

William Zoller, a resident, told council he worked for more than 20 years in wastewater treatment operations with the Directorate of Public Works at Fort Jackson in Columbia. He said that he believes methane gas is building up in the system because the raw sewage being pumped through the line is under too much pressure. When that happens, valves placed along the line release the gas into the air.

From a practical standpoint, the continual pressure weakens the valves, which means they will need to be repaired and replaced more often, he added.

But the obvious problem for the people who live there is the smell. “It’s horrible,” Zoller said. “We aren’t supposed to smell sewer gas all over Givhans.”

Because the system is not gravity fed, the raw sewage must be forced through the system via pump stations, which means county engineers should be able to regulate the pressure so that the raw sewage can get through the system without building up pressure and constantly forcing gas through the valves, Zoller said.

“When you go through Summerville or subdivisions you don’t smell all that,” he said. “It’s all force fed, so they can regulate it.”

Mark Carter, a resident, said work crews have replaced two valves in his front yard since the system was installed some three months ago. The pipe itself is buried nearly 10 feet in the ground, but the soil is all red clay, which makes it virtually impossible for water to escape the system when it rains.

The smell is constant and pronounced, making it impossible for him to enjoy his property, he said. “We had kinfolk here the other evening and they couldn’t stand to be outside,” he said. “We can’t even sit on our front porch.”

Some of his neighbors have reported similar problems, Carter said.

Carter noted that county officials, water and sewer crews, and Tideland Construction have been very responsive to complaints – but added that they should not have to continually repair a brand new system.

Council Vice Chair George Bailey said he had visited the area upon receiving complaints, immediately noticed the smell, and made calls to county wastewater treatment officials asking them to make alleviating the problem a priority.

“It was supposed to have been fixed already,” Bailey said, adding that he would contact water and sewer officials again to ask them to resolve the issue. “Nobody deserves to walk out and smell sewer in their yard.” Bailey added that he is confident the situation can and will be remedied soon.

Other business discussed:

• Council passed first readings on requests to rezone 51.8 acres on Beech Hill Road from Multi-Family (R-4) and Light Industrial (CLI) to Planned Development District (PD) and .9 acres at 1240 Central Avenue from General Commercial (CG) to Neighborhood Commercial (CN),

• Council passed first reading of an ordinance to amend the county’s application requirements for Planned Development Districts. The amendment would modify application requirements to include a wetland delineation submitted for certification to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the current policy requires wetland delineation certified by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The effect of this change is that wetland boundaries would be finalized after council action on zoning but prior to any application for land development permits.

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