Columbia Residents Trying to Keep Their Heads Above Waste Water

View of Water pollution in the river

The city of Columbia, SC can use all the pipe lining and sewer cameras it can get as it’s facing a significant sewer line repair problem after heavy rainfall continues to result in flooding damage, according to the Columbia-area CBS affiliate

“Any heavy rain event we will likely see overflows until this is mitigated,” says Joey Jaco, Director of Utilities for the City of Columbia. “We’re already estimating at least $10 million worth of projects to help us recover from the flood.”

It’s unclear how old the Columbia system is, but generally complete sewer replacement is preferable to sewer line repair if the system is 40 years of age or older. While age and condition of the system are factors, the underlying issue has been the recent rainfall that the city has gotten. So much so that it’s put a strain on the waste water system, which has resulted in flooding of raw sewage in some places.

“It’s raw sewage all over this place,” said William Jackson, who runs a local tire business. “It’s been an ongoing problem with the sewage down here since it happened, the flood. We run a business and people don’t want to come and spend their money with us because there is a smell and a sewage problem.”

The average household can leak up to 10,000 gallons of wasted water every year by itself. Couple that with the additional water the area is seeing and there’s just no place for the waste water to go but into the streets.

The city is working around the clock to try and come up with ways to mitigate the damage, but they’re realistic in their estimations that it could take as long as a year to get things running back to normal. Trenchless sewer line repair, which has been available in homes for about 15 years, could be one option going forward.

“Here at The Metro Waste Water Treatment Plant we were able to maintain the flows even though we were seeing two to three times what we would normally see coming into the plant,” said Jaco.

This is even with precautions the city already had in place, which included raising the West Columbia pump station above the flood line.

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