Florence City Council passed first reading on an ordinance Monday to assume control of the Timmonsville combined water and wastewater system.
Mayor Stephen Wukela says they've been in talks with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the past nine months about taking over the system.
During Monday's Florence city council meeting, Wukela announced that Timmonsville is discharging untreated waste into a small creek that feeds into Lynches River.
The town's wastewater treatment plant is not working properly, Wukela says ,and therefore not treating the waste before it flows into the river.
He says Florence has no other option but to try to help Timmonsville.
"It's a desperate situation and it can really only be described as collapse. Their wastewater system is essentially non-functioning and obviously in violation of those permits. The EPA has sanctioned them and the next step for EPA to take, I suppose, would be to shut them down completely," explained Wukela.
He adds the water system is having problems as well. He says at one point, the water pressure was so low it impacted Honda of Timmonsville.
"Their water service is in a situation of what can only be described as a situation of jeopardy for Honda and for the constituents of Timmonsville," Wukela said.
If Florence takes control of the system, it will have to make $12 million in repairs to the system and assume a $6 million loan the Town of Timmonsville has with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The Town of Timmonsville has to pass an ordinance allowing Florence to acquire its wastewater and water systems.
Timmonsville residents will vote on the matter in the form of a ballot question in June.