York County could move one step closer to buying embattled water company Tuesday night

YORK COUNTY, S.C. — York County could come one step closer to taking over a water company Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke has investigated for years. County leaders are considering buying Blue Granite Water and the first reading on the plan is scheduled for Tuesday night.

York County officials say the deal will cost about $36 million. County spokesperson Greg Suskin said the average customer would pay about $75 less for water and sewer each month, but there would be a new $50 surcharge to fix infrastructure each month. This means most customers would still save about $25 each month.

“It’s going to be a more stable environment for rates where they’re not going to have constant increases,” Suskin said. “We’re also going to be able to put some capital into the system to make improvements, repairs, and that sort of thing.”

The county will have two more readings and public comment. The deal could be done by Halloween. If so, the transition could still take several months to be complete.

The county said none of this will impact customers who have York County water and sewer, or their own wells and septic systems.

Customers have been outspoken about the utility’s water quality and customer service for years. In fact, a county leader once called it a 28-year “saga.”

Stoogenke first met customer Jason Habbal about a year and a half ago. At the time, Habbal said Blue Granite’s water tasted so bad that he bought 30-40 gallons of bottled water each month to drink instead and his water bills were still pricey.

Stoogenke met up with him again on Tuesday to talk about York County’s plans to buy Blue Granite. Habbal said he found out about the proposal when a county leader emailed him.

“Pretty excited. Shocked, but it … was a welcome email,” Habbal said. “It’s a welcome change. It’s definitely needed and time will tell what happens with it.”

Blue Granite has also come under fire for pollution in recent years. In 2017, the state fined the utility almost $80,000 for failures involving fecal coliform at a wastewater treatment plant. In 2020, the state fined the company more than $50,000 for raw sewage that went into a creek near Columbia.

Blue Granite emailed Stoogenke about York County’s plan to acquire the company:

“While we are disappointed in York County’s decision to acquire our Lake Wylie system via the exercise of eminent domain, we remain committed to providing excellent service to our South Carolina customers and continuing to invest in the systems that provide them with safe, reliable water and wastewater services. It is our intent to follow all of the processes required to make this transition seamless to our current Lake Wylie customers. Questions regarding this transaction should be directed to York County.”

(Watch below: After customer complaints, York County to buy private utility in $36M acquisition)