County Considers Future of Water Supply

Though the agenda was light, the Fairfield County Council had plenty to talk about during their June 11 evening meeting after County Administrator Phil Hinely mentioned a meeting held on June 8 with SCE&G, Winnsboro and Fairfield County representatives to discuss the possibility of using water from Lake Monticello in western Fairfield County. Water from Lake Monticello may help alleviate long-term water shortages that are facing the area. Lake Monticello is owned and managed by the South Carolina Electric and Gas Company and covers about 7,000 acres.

“The distance from the lake to the Town’s reservoir is 12 miles,” Council Chairman David Ferguson said. “It is about the same distance as from the Broad River, but because of elevation, a lot more in pumping equipment would be needed for getting water from the Broad River. SCE&G said they could provide a million gallons a day, but the Town will have to buy the water from them. It sounds to me like it could be worked out, but it will cost $12 million.”

Water is provided to Fairfield County residents by five water companies within Fairfield County: Winnsboro, Mitford, Ridgeway, Jenkinsville and Mid-County Water. Winnsboro also provides water to the Blythewood area of Richland County.

“Someone needs to man up and call all the water entities to the table,” said Council member Carolyn Robinson. “If the Town is not going to do it, I think we should. We need a game plan and we need to bring every water provider to the table.”

“Does the Town have a plan for the future of their water system?” asked Council member Mary Lynn Kinley.

“The County has helped out with providing money for a study by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” Ferguson said. “If all five water purveyors came together, it would help for grant and loan purposes.”

“The Town doesn’t have the finances to upkeep the water system or expand their lines,” said Council member David Brown. “We need to try to get all five water companies together with us to come together to come up with short- and long-term solutions. In the past, the USDA would help out with paying for infrastructure. At some point, the whole country will have this problem with aging water systems.”

“I envision everyone coming together to provide the county’s water through one central water authority,” Robinson said. “Until we sit down at the table as a group, we will be sitting here again discussing this a year from now.”

“The Mayor (Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy) told me Mitford was doing fine and didn’t want to be a part of a water authority,” Ferguson said. “Jenkinsville didn’t want to participate either.”

“Even though the County isn’t in the water business, it’s obvious that having five companies in one county is not optimal,” County Administrator Phil Hinely said. “But sometimes a crisis can help make a decision.”

Ferguson said he will contact Mayor Gaddy to see what the Town’s future water plans are.