Water Deal on Target for February

WINNSBORO – A revised water deal between the Town of Winnsboro and the City of Columbia did not make it before Columbia City Council in January as had been expected.

Steve Gantt, Columbia’s City Manager, said in early January that he would be presenting City Council with a revised contract in January. Last week, however, Gantt said the contract was still under review by the City’s Legal Department.

“We will review it over the next few weeks and then present it to Columbia City Council for their review and approval,” Gantt said. “After that it will be sent to the town of Winnsboro for signature and approval. We hope to complete the review and approval process during the month of February.”

Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy said in December that Winnsboro was looking for a “long-term” relationship with Columbia for the provision of water. Last summer, Winnsboro and Columbia completed an agreement to bring up to 400,000 gallons of water a day to Blythewood customers. It was hoped that that agreement would take pressure off Winnsboro’s strained reservoir, which has been hit hard by persistent drought conditions. But the reservoir has not recovered as Winnsboro had anticipated, and the hoped-for new arrangement could bring between 600,000 to 1 million gallons of water into the town’s supply.

At an intergovernmental meeting in December, Winnsboro Town Manager Don Wood said the deal was imperative to Winnsboro’s water system, and that if water wasn’t pumping into Winnsboro by the spring, the situation could be grim for Winnsboro customers.

Jesse Douglas, Director of Winnsboro’s Water Department, said this week that December’s wet weather was kind to the Town’s reservoir, although it still remains some 2 ½ feet below full. Water usage, he said, has also remained stable, allowing the Town’s stores to replenish.

“It’s not quite as tight as it was,” Douglas said, “but we’re still going to be conservative.”

Winnsboro also has backup sources of water that are not being tapped, Douglas said, giving the Town room – and time – to negotiate with Columbia.

Any new water deal will require some infrastructure improvements, the Town reported in December, including pumping equipment to bring the water from Columbia and into the water tower near Ben Arnold on Highway 34. Fairfield County has agreed to purchase the necessary equipment, a t a cost of approximately $400,000.