An article in yesterday’s State Newspaper (one of the newspapers covering events in and around Columbia, SC) discussed a recent decision by the residents of Timmonsville, SC to turn over control of their dilapidated sewer and water system to neighboring Florence, SC, a town with more than ten times the number of residents and a better budget for infrastructure repairs.
What was the problem?
With only around 3,000 residents in its tax base, Timmonsville simply could not seem to keep in line with EPA mandated regulations concerning water quality and functionality of its sewer lines.
As examples, the federal government recently sued Timmonsville for failing to adequately chlorinate its public water supply and for the collapsing of a sewer line that resulted in raw sewage backing up into buildings in the downtown area.
Obviously both raw sewage and improperly treated drinking water can make a person ill — but, again, with such a small tax base, the town simply could not afford to make things right.
Trouble paying for needed repairs not a new phenomenon
Just a few short years ago the EPA reduced the allowable dissolved arsenic concentration in drinking water to 10ppb and many smaller communities that had issues with arsenic in their water supply clamored that they could not currently — or in the foreseeable future — afford to install the equipment needed to bring their arsenic levels down under 10ppb.
Naturally the government set up special programs (i.e. arranged for funding & gave extensions for compliance) for communities facing non-compliance with the new arsenic in drinking water regulations but sometimes we wonder just how many small towns (like Timmonsville, SC) still have not managed to get their water quality issues under control.
Larger cities have water & sewer troubles, too
Just so that no one accuses us of saying only small communities have troubles keeping their water and sewer lines in order, the same article also mentioned how Columbia, SC, a MUCH larger city than Timmonsville, SC, recently reached an agreement with the federal government that will require Columbia to make an estimated $750M dollars in repairs to its sewer lines in the near future.
Moral of the story?
Whether you live in a small town on the backside a grassy hill surrounded by lush fields of wild grass or you reside in the heart of thriving metropolitan area with scarcely a tree in sight, water problems can pop up without warning and most certainly without mercy.
Let’s face it: City and town governments have artfully avoided dealing with ailing sewer and water lines for many years (aka: elected officials shy away from important issues that would hint at a possible [probable!] tax hike… so they can get re-elected) and now many regions all across the United States find themselves teetering on the brink of infrastructure collapse.
Bonus round: Throw in a bit of ‘sequestration’ (just to spice things up) and now even LESS money exists in city/town budgets and coffers to make necessary sewer and water line improvements.
And in conclusion…
At the beginning, middle, and end of the day responsibility for the quality of the water we use in our home rests in our hands… so we will continue testing our drinking water periodically and using appropriate water filters to handle any ‘problems’ we detect.
It’s our water, our health, and ultimately… our LIFE!