Residents in the Town of Timmonsville will vote in a referendum Tuesday to decide if the City of Florence should take over the town's water and wastewater systems.
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).
Nearly three weeks ago, the U.S. Justice Department, on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against the Town of Timmonsville for wastewater and drinking water violations.
The Justice Department wants the court to order Timmonsville to address "the imminent, substantial and potential risks to human health posed by discharges of raw sewage or partially-treated wastewater into the environment, as well as take steps necessary to bring the wastewater and drinking water systems into compliance with federal and state laws."
During a town hall meeting on the referendum last week, an official with the EPA talked with residents and said the agency believes Florence taking over the water systems is beneficial to Timmonsville.
"We've been working very, very closely with the town and with Florence to try to come up with a permanent and consistent way to bring the town into compliance with the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. We believe that the option that the town is presenting is a viable one," said Suzanne Armor with EPA.
A DHEC representative also attended the town hall meeting and assured residents that despite the violations the water is safe to drink in Timmonsville.
Residents were told their water rates wouldn't go up for the first two years.
Timmonsville resident Rose Desarno sued the town last week on behalf of the People of Timmonsville over problems with the water quality and ongoing sewage issues.
We will keep you posted on what happens with the referendum.