Okatie, SC (February 18, 2022) – Earlier this month, Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority (BJWSA) reported a significant wastewater overflow into Battery Creek. BJWSA is committed to protecting our natural resources and we take this responsibility seriously. We would like to provide additional details surrounding the incident, along with actions we are taking proactively to avoid this in the future.

When we received a customer complaint about a strong sewer odor Monday, January 31, BJWSA crews responded immediately. Within two and a half hours of being notified, the location was identified and the overflow stopped. Once repair work started and the pipe was excavated, crews discovered an 18” longitudinal split in the pipe. We determined that due to the location of the pipeline a few feet in front of an outfall of a 54” storm drainpipe, that storm water washed away the soil covering the ductile iron main, thus exposing the pipeline to salt water during high tides. Exposure to the harsh environment accelerated corrosion to the outside of the pipe, which lead to the premature failure.

The odor was initially detected on Friday, January 28, but unfortunately, was not reported to BJWSA at that time. It is critical to report any sewer odors immediately so we ask customers and residents to notify us as soon as possible in order to mitigate potential issues.

While we recognize not all incidents are preventable, we are committed to be proactive in our processes, operations and maintenance to avoid future wastewater overflows. BJWSA’s Asset Management Program allows us to identify our highest priority needs for replacement and rehabilitation of our infrastructure. Our newly-created Preventive Maintenance Department focuses solely on proactive maintenance needs in our system.

After this incident, we conducted an after-action analysis with multiple departments throughout BJWSA to assess the event and identify any necessary follow-up actions. This also presented BJWSA with the opportunity to further fine tune our process. As a result of this pipe failure, moving forward, our Preventive Maintenance group will utilize GIS data to identify force mains at a higher risk for potential corrosion that could lead to a pipe failure. As these segments are identified, we will conduct visual inspections and explore alternative inspection technologies. Additionally, we will evaluate alternative pipe materials such as PVC and HDPE, that are not susceptible to corrosive conditions and could potentially be utilized in situations that have a higher risk for corrosion.

When an incident such as this occurs, we understand the impact it has on our beautiful Lowcountry and our customers. BJWSA will continue to explore innovative solutions for proactively detecting and preventing issues with our infrastructure to ensure reliable service to our customers and to protect our environment. Learn more about BJWSA at www.bjwsa.org.