By Al Dozier

The president of Blue Granite Water Co. promised to rebuild the relationship with the Irmo community during an appearance at the January 21 Irmo Council meeting.

Don Denton appeared at the meeting to offer a presentation on what Blue Granite is doing to improve problems with sewage leaks in the Irmo area. Sludge spilled out of a water treatment plant and into Rawls Creek in the Friarsgate area last month.

The town of Irmo ticketed Blue Granite for unlawful discharge of sewage.

Denton said Blue Granite is working on the sewer leak problems, caused by growth in tree roots that have clogged the system. He said the problem areas have been identified and restoration is 20 percent complete.

Denton said Blue Granite will be talking to property owners in advance if they have to do repair work in residential areas.

During the meeting Denton did not address one of the main concerns of Irmo residents, a major increase in sewer taxes. The sewer charge is expected to go up 56 percent per household.

Irmo residents continued to raise questions about the rate hike, which some say will raise their sewer bill to $100 a month.

Irmo resident Lila Cartledge said she expects a high sewer bill even though she is the only occupant of her home. She said the bill is not linked to usage.

“It’s totally ludicrous” to have such rate increases for people on fixed income, said Irmo resident Pat Witt.

When asked about the rate increase after the meeting, Denton said increased revenues are needed by Blue Granite to maintain an aging system negatively affected by infrastructure that goes back into the 1930s and is badly in need of rehabilitation.

Denton said utility costs are not just going up in Irmo, but throughout the nation.

Council members did not address the rate increase at Tuesday’s meeting, but the town has filed for an intervention opposing the hike when it goes before the Public Service Commission.

In other action at Tuesday’s meeting, the council held a discussion on the handling of bulk-items pick-up in Irmo. The service is now provided by an outside contractor, Tyler Sanitation, but it only provides the pick-up once a month. The council discussed having an in-house plan but agreed to have further discussions with Tyler about increasing the pick-ups.

The council deferred a final reading on an amendment that would put a two-term limit for those serving on boards and commissions. Council members agreed the ordinance should be re-worded to address service times for appointments to posts vacated by early resignations.

The council voted down a proposal that would allow the council to replace any committee member “at any time for any reason.” Several citizens criticized the language in the measure.

The council gave first reading to an ordinance that requires broken windows on vacant buildings to be repaired within 30 days.

The council also gave first reading to an ordinance to rezone a portion of property on Muskrat Run Road from Fringe Agricultural to General Residential.

The council approved a memorandum of understanding with Blue Water Granite that it will provide the town notice when sewer service is disconnected to a customer.

The council also agreed to cancel the February 4 meeting to allow the council members to attend a Richland County Council meeting.

The council continued to tweak a new ordinance that updates zoning and land development ordinances and assures they are in line with state and county zoning laws.