Oil sheen contained in Talbert Channel near site of last year’s major O.C. pipeline spill. (Photo: Jason Sides/U.S. Army)
“The whole thing is not right. I don’t want to hear the word’sustainable’ anymore.
“We have to get rid of this term and start saying ‘clean water safe for drinking.’”
— Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., on whether O.C. water should be safe to drink.
But what’s safe to drink right now may not be the future of Lake Oconee. The Army Corps of Engineers will study the impact of adding wastewater treatment plants on the Oconee River, the primary water source for this impoverished county along the Oconee River in South Carolina, where the local population has dwindled from 200 in the 1960s to 6 today.
It’s a study that is likely to delay plans for a new $350 million pipeline that would join up with the existing O.C. line to carry water to Charlotte, North Carolina, some 40 miles away.
The project has been under attack since the 2010 spill and subsequent failure of the O.C. to treat and treat the toxic wastewater released from the spill to the waterway. (Photo: Jason Sides/U.S. Army)
A water bill that passed the South Carolina state legislature in 2011 contained nearly identical language to the new Corps study: “the Department of Health and Environmental Control (HEC) recommends that Oconee River water be safe to drink.”
“We are trying to get a piece of the $300 million project,” said Kevin Nesmith, chairman of the Oconee Valley Water Association, which has fought the pipeline proposal for most of the past seven years. “There has been a lot of research done on O.C. water, and we don’t believe it’s safe. It was very costly last time to treat