City of Conway may drain Lake Busbee

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) –  Lake Busbee has sat along Highway 501 in Conway for more than 60 years, but it may not be around for much longer.

Kay Brown-Gary and her husband Robert walk around Lake Busbee every day to get their 10,000 steps in, and snap shots of the wildlife. “I love to take pictures. Many beautiful pictures of alligators, birds, snakes and bugs.” The City of Conway is considering draining the lake, to create a freshwater swamp but the Grays say they don’t want to see it go.  “It gets us out. It’s where you wanna go. This will be a real shame if they do something like that,” said Kay.

Santee Cooper owns the lake and offered it to Conway. However, city officials have concerns about keeping it, such as the elevated levels of arsenic and copper in the water. “You can’t swim in it. You can’t fish. You shouldn’t even put your feet in it.  Because of that, it calls into question, what use does the city have for it?,” asked Interim City Administrator Adam Emrick.

According to Emrick, the city would have to spend up to $200,000 every year to maintain the lake, and would have to spend more to get rid of the pollutants in the water. “It may not be worth that cost to the city. We need to be prepared, if we’re going to take it, as a city, to make it a viable asset. And taking a contaminated lake and making such is not going to be an easy task,” he said.

The city will hold a public meeting so the community can have its say on the fate of the lake. Emrick says the city is torn on what to do. “It’s not a simple decision just to say it’s not worth the expense. It’s part of who we are as Conway residents, so just saying, ‘We don’t want it. Drain it.’ isn’t a simple thing.”

The public meeting will be on September 18th at 4 PM, right before the City Council meeting that night.