This stinks: Florence residents upset over reeking sewage leak

This stinks: Florence residents upset over reeking sewage leak
Sewage is leaking along Stratton Drive in Florence. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
Sewage is leaking along Stratton Drive in Florence. (Source: Audrey Biesk)
Source: Audrey Biesk
Source: Audrey Biesk

FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) - One neighborhood in Florence is asking the city for help to fix a collapsed 12-inch gravity sewer line that runs through their neighborhood and is now leaking sewage.

A foul smell led led residents to bring it to the attention of Florence city officials at the beginning of December.

David Kullenberg, the general manager of the Palms at Oakdale Golf Course, said his problem is the city is just now trying to fix the sewer line break.

It will not be cheap. Michael Hemingway, utilities director for the city of Florence, said the repairs will cost nearly $1 million.

The break happened underneath Interstate 95 and runs from the interstate to U.S. 76. The manhole is leaking sewage on Stratton Drive right along the golf course.

"When you have a month and a half of continuous golfers complaining about a very bad smell coming from the 18th tee, it doesn't look very good for our business," Kullenberg said.

It is not just an issue for the golf course. Kullenberg said he has heard complaints from the Oak Pointe community as well. More than 100 homes are less than a mile from where the water is leaking.

"When it comes to a person that lives there, they notice it morning, noon and night," Kullenberg said.

Resident Bobbie Sarver noted the smell was especially foul last week when she was outside with visiting friends.

"The minute I came to the door, she said, 'Is there a sewer or something like a septic tank in the neighborhood?'" Sarver said. "I said I don't know where it is, but I said I've noticed it too."

Hemingway said Florence officials are doing their part to reduce the water being released by lowering the horse power from 20- to 10-volume horse power.

City officials also notified the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to write daily reports of contamination levels. Hemingway added a lime disinfectant was laid on the ground where the water is leaking.

A concern for Kullenberg is the freshwater system that runs from Lake Oakdale along the golf course.

"There's a lot of animals. There are birds, there are fish and a lot of creatures that aren't enjoying the inclement things in the freshwater at the moment," he said.

The first step is for the city to accept a bid for a contractor. Then, they have to make sure the South Carolina Department of Transportation has given permission before work can begin to fix the sewer line.

It cannot come soon enough for this neighborhood.

"Sewage. The actual name tells you it's not very good stuff and not healthy for the little kids in the neighborhood and they are outside playing all the time," Sarver said.

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