Posted on Jun 30, 2016 in News
Year 3 of this plan begins July 1, 2016
For several years, the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission (LCWSC) has been working to build a water treatment facility on Lake Greenwood. Given the magnitude and complexity of this type of project, it can take many years for visible progress to take shape. That is about to change in a significant way, as we will start construction of this facility in the next 3 to 5 years. In an effort to keep our customers informed about this important project, we’ve outlined some additional information to better explain how we got to this point in the process. As we reach milestones over the next 5 years, more updates on this project will be made available via our website and local media. With each milestone, we hope our customers will have a growing sense of pride in their new water treatment facility; and more importantly, a growing confidence that their children and grandchildren will have access to a reliable, high-quality drinking water source.
Why does LCWSC need to build a water treatment plant?
As the largest water provider in Laurens County, LCWSC supplies water for all unincorporated areas in Laurens County as well as parts of southern Greenville County. We serve nearly 40,000 residents through 14,000 water taps. While most of our customer base is residential, we are experiencing industrial and commercial growth in the northern part of the County. This growth is beneficial for creating more jobs, which in turn leads to more residential development. We expect this trend to spread across our County, significantly increasing our water demand.
Is Laurens County prepared for growth?
Currently, the County’s water source is either Lake Rabon or the Enoree River. Based on a comprehensive Water Resources Master Plan performed by United Research Services (URS) Corporation in 2009, both sources have a combined reliable capacity of 14 million gallons per day (MGD). While this may sound like a lot, the current maximum daily water demand in Laurens County can reach as high as 8 MGD, more than half of this available capacity. As more large industries choose Laurens County and we experience an increase in population, we will exceed our capacity. For comparison, Greenwood County, with roughly the same population as Laurens County, has a water treatment facility rated at 30 MGD.
Why choose Lake Greenwood as a water source?
As part of the Water Resources Master Plan, URS Corporation examined every available reservoir greater than 50 acres, as well as the source of water for these reservoirs. The Saluda River was identified as our most reliable water source, as no other rivers or reservoirs would be sustainable beyond a 50-year planning period. By utilizing Lake Greenwood as the location of our water plant, we will also benefit from the Reedy River, another very reliable water source.
Why do we have to build this treatment plant now?
It is necessary that we proceed with this project now, instead of delaying it another 5 or 10 years, for several reasons. First, the City of Laurens Commission of Public Works (CPW) and the City of Clinton have aging water plants. While both plants have been well maintained and operated, they face potential challenges in meeting future, more stringent regulations. Second, as the largest user of both facilities, LCWSC would provide primary funding for any capital improvements made to either of the existing facilities. Therefore, investing in a new facility using a more sustainable source is a better use of our funds.
How will LCWSC pay for such an important, but large project?
The property for the water plant and the site for the intake structure on Lake Greenwood have already been purchased. Phase I of the project, estimated at $500,000, will consist of State and Federal permitting, securing Greenwood County approval, and preliminary design. This will be done on a pay-as-you go basis over the next 3 to 5 years. Phase II, estimated at $30,000,000, will involve the final design and construction. This will be funded through a 30-year loan resulting in an increase in annual debt service of approximately $1,300,000. Because we will no longer purchase water from the CPW and the City of Clinton, LCWSC will save approximately $1,000,000 per year. These savings will be used to offset the cost of operating the new treatment plant. Therefore, the increase in debt service requires additional revenue that will be funded by an increase in user fees (capital rate increase).
With an average monthly water bill of $29.97, LCWSC currently has one of the lowest unincorporated rates in the Upstate. Only one water rate increase has occurred during the last 10 years. The proposed capital rate increase would be implemented over the course of 5 years through five phases, beginning July 1, 2014 and concluding July 1, 2018.
The projected total increase after 5 years is $6.74 per month, or an average increase of 4.5% over 5 years. This is a very modest rate increase to secure a long-term, sustainable water source that will be invaluable to future generations of Laurens County.
The table below illustrates each phase and the corresponding monthly bill based on an average usage of 4,050 gallons per month, a typical monthly usage for our customers.
|Current Bill||July 2014||July 2015||July 2016||July 2017||July 2018||Total Increase|
For further information on this important project, please call our office at 864-682-3250.