When the Department of Health and Environmental Control deemed Camden’s wastewater lagoon violated a consent order limiting effluent toxicity released in the Wateree River, officials faced a conundrum. Should they update the outdated facility knowing it would be only a matter of time before it became noncompliant again? With an eye on the future, officials committed to constructing a new facility to add capacity and support economic development in the area.

The biggest challenge officials faced was finding money for the massive project. City finance staff worked with the South Carolina State Revolving Fund to secure a low-interest loan for the $35 million facility. They used the funds for plans, design, legal fees, construction, equipment and engineering observation.

They selected the site of an underutilized portion of the existing treatment plant property as the location for the new plant. After months of construction, the plant was up and running. The facility incorporated an ultraviolet disinfection system, the first of its kind in the United States. This new system eliminates the release of toxic effluent into the river and produces biosolids for land application on local farms.

City officials kept residents in the loop through many public meetings and even a blog during construction. For the plant’s opening, officials invited the public to tour the modern facility after attending a celebratory ribbon-cutting ceremony.

City leaders are not resting after their initial success. Plans are in the works to turn the old lagoon into an environmental education center, complete with an artificial wetland, walking trail, wildlife observation area and canoe launch on the Wateree River.

Contact Caitlin Corbett at or 803.432.2421.