Spartanburg Water reveals plan to address lake residents’ concerns

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Property owners along Lake Bowen and Lake Blalock had angry words for the leaders of Spartanburg Water at a public meeting Tuesday. The utility owns the lakes. At the meeting, the company’s CEO made first mention of a plan to address the concerns of people who live around the lakes. 

Lake residents say Spartanburg Water recently started enforcing regulations that are confusing and onerous. 

“How can they keep doing this?” said Glenn Gould, who lives on Lake Bowen. “I mean that should be against the law. They’re making my property worth zero. That should be grand larceny.”

Gould says the line that separates his property and the utility’s property keeps creeping onto his land. The line separates private property from Spartanburg Water’s property is called the 827 Contour Line, which is “the elevation above the Mean Sea Level that constitutes the property line for Spartanburg Water around the entire circumference of Lake Bowen,” according to Spartanburg Water. Anything below that contour line belongs to Spartanburg Water. 

People are also complaining about having to get permits to do yard work, as well as build docks. 

“I had one permit take one year and three days,” said Clint Johnson, who owns Dock Pro.

He said slow response times to permit requests are hurting his dock-building business.

“Decisions that you make, that y’all’s committee makes, directly affects whether I eat or I starve,” he said.

Spartanburg Water CEO Sue Schneider said in a presentation at the meeting that the utility also has shortened the wait time for permits to an average of less than three weeks. 

The utility pulls drinking water from Lake Bowen, and its leaders say enforcing regulations reduces contamination. At the public meeting, Schneider also made first mention of a plan to work with residents on issues. They plan is called “Let’s Press the Pause Button.”

“We’re still finalizing the details, but want to roll this program out this Fall,” Schneider said. “[It] is a program designed, based on the comments we heard at the listening session, to allow all existing improvements, semipermanent and permanent structures that are already below the 827 property line…allow those to get a permit, a license or an agreement, depending on the type of structure.”

In other words, if you own a structure below the 827 Line, which is considered Spartanburg Water’s territory, you can work out an agreement with the utility. The program will allow residents 14 months to do that, Schneider said. 

She said they are planning to release more information to property owners in September, and they are hoping to roll out the program in October. 

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