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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -As summer approaches hundreds will flock to the Congaree River. A recent study may make you think twice before entering the water.

The Congaree River keeper released a list called the Dirty Half Dozen. It lists the top six agencies that have been cited for the most violations when it comes to releasing an unapproved amount of waste water into your river.

Whenever you use the sink or flush the toilet - the waste goes through sewage lines. And some of it ends up in the Congaree River. Agencies that have a federal permit can release certain amounts of wastewater into the river.
But according to Bill Stangler, Congaree River Keeper, six Midlands agencies are releasing too much waste and that could put you in danger.

"The standard for fecal coli form bacteria that is usually present in sewage is 400 colonies per 100 milliliters of water, we have seen samples that have shown 40 times that," said Stangler.

Stangler says those six midlands agencies have found themselves on their Dirty Half Dozen List for having upwards of 30 violations within the past three years, at the top of the list is the city of Columbia.

"Over the last three years they have had several violations for fecal coli form bacteria and a number of other parameters"

The city of Columbia waster water plant had 40 violations, but not as many as two years ago.

"We intend to continue to make more progress because we have projects that are in the works and plans and stages that will further reduce and hopefully in the future eliminate these spills," said Bill Davis with the City of Columbia.

Davis says the numbers in the study could appear skewed because the city has to report every spill no matter the size. Most of their sewage overflows come from residents clogging pipes by pouring grease down their sinks and roots growing through old pipes.

Stangler believes that the city and other organizations are trying to improve but feels that penalties should be harder for those who commit violations.

"I'd like to see DHEC and the EPA take more action on these issues and if they fail to we are going to look into doing our own enforcement which is one thing that the Clean Water Act Allows us to do," said Stangler.

If you would like to see the complete studyCLICK HERE.

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