A $24.2 million project to expand water and sewer access in Lower Richland is taking shape along several streets, six months after breaking ground and becoming one of the County’s largest infrastructure investments after the transportation program.
The long-awaited Southeast Richland County Sewer and Water Expansion Project got underway April 15. Construction vehicles now roll through the area digging up earth, and oversize pipes destined to be placed underground can be seen along roadways.
The expanded system will link public water and sewer services to residences, small businesses, schools and churches, as well as McEntire Joint National Guard Base, with the goal of improving water quality and easing environmental concerns in Lower Richland.
Funded through Utilities revenue bonds, the project will be implemented in two phases, with the first part expected to be complete by July 2021.
Areas covered by the project’s first phase include Lower Richland Boulevard, Air Base Road, Congaree Road, Bluff Road, Reynolds Road, U.S. 601, Cabin Creek Road, Ault Road, Trotter Road, Congaree Church Road and Clarkson Road.
The military base, the Franklin Park community and three Richland School District One facilities in the area all have small, aging wastewater treatment systems. Designated by the Central Midlands Council of Governments as the provider of wastewater services for the area, Richland County routed its new sewer system so it could provide connections at these strategic locations, Utilities director Bill Davis said.
“Most of the infrastructure within these small, local wastewater systems has reached the end of its useful life,” Davis said. “Expanding Richland County’s sewer system in the area also gives us the capacity to connect those who would like to connect.”
By connecting sewer customers to the existing Eastover Regional Wastewater Treatment facility, the County aims to prevent environmental hazards, ensure reliable service and make the system more cost effective overall. Hopkins Middle School, Hopkins Elementary School, Gadsden Elementary School and Franklin Park will be able to access the public sewer system, eliminating those sites’ need for wastewater lagoons, which do not meet S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control regulations.
Additionally, by installing 15 miles of water lines and 116 fire hydrants along part of the project route, the County can improve fire protection, increase home values and lower insurance rates in the area.
Residents are not required to sign up for water and sewer service. Before the project broke ground, however, nearby residents were encouraged to tap into the system without incurring a fee, potentially saving an estimated $5,500 in water and sewer tap fees for each residence.
Progress Updates Online
With work underway, Richland County Utilities provides weekly progress reports and biweekly project progress maps, located under the Utilities tab at www.richlandcountysc.gov.
The County plans to further expand the infrastructure in Lower Richland by building out from the main line of the system in subsequent years. Planning for the water and sewer project’s second phase is expected to start in 2021.
A technological boost for the area will complement the new water and sewer lines. In September, the County announced that TruVista Telecom is installing fiber optic cable to enable broadband internet service in Lower Richland. The work is being done in conjunction with the water and sewer project, with service expected to begin next spring or summer.
Residents with questions about the projects or about County water and sewer service should email Richland County Utilities at RCU_Service@richlandcountysc.gov.