Army Corps of Engineers Begins Study

On Sept. 26, the Fairfield County Council met with Army Corps of Engineers to begin a survey to find a new source of water. The Army Corps of Engineers team is headed up by Dudley Patrick (project manager), Al Walker (plan formulator), Vernard Cleveland (civil engineering), Pat Rushing (hydrology), George Ebai (economic), Mark Shafer (environmental) and David Neuman (geographic information systems).

The cost of the project is shared with the county 50-50. In 2010, Winnsboro’s mayor Roger Gaddy wrote a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers requesting a study of water supply needs under the Planning Assistance to States program. The letter was very direct in its statement.

“Residential, commercial and industrial growth is projected to continue unabated in the next decade as the Columbia suburbs expand into Fairfield County and other parts of the County continue to grow,” Gaddy said in his letter. “Under present circumstances, the Water System will have to find additional raw water to meet projected demand or the County will have to take steps to restrict water us and economic development.”

The total estimated cost for the study is $379,220, with $148,500 coming from Fairfield County. The study is broken up into two phases with the first phase taking an estimated 15 months starting in September 2012 through November 2013. The first phase is a report concentrated on the Town of Winnsboro with five tasks: data research, demographic projection, water supply and demand, conceptual system alternatives and Town of Winnsboro water supply. Phase two would include the selection of a recommended plan for a county-wide water supply. Phase two would only begin if the determination is made to move forward.

County Council Chairman David Ferguson said he looks forward to the survey for a new water source.

“We are glad they (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) are on board and willing to help,” Ferguson said.

With Winnsboro’s water reservoirs just around 50 percent full, this is the first year that Winnsboro has had to resort to a water restriction. There is a new 680-acre industrial park (Fairfield Commerce Center) on Peach Road, the progress of which has been held up due to lack of sustainable water.

“There is the potential for 1,000 jobs to come to Fairfield County through the Commerce Center,” Ferguson said. “But we need water for them to come.”

There have been a number of sites thrown into the hat from which to pull water, including the Broad River, Lake Wateree and the Catawba River. The project’s staff is trying to avoid inner basin transfer. During the first day of discussion last week, the staff proposed pulling water from the Broad River for the county on the west side of I-77 and pulling water from Lake Wateree for the east side of I-77.

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