Winnsboro, Mid-County Strike Deal

WINNSBORO – Disaster was averted Wednesday night as the Town of Winnsboro granted a six-week extension to Mid-County Water while the finishing touches are put on a new five-year water sale agreement between the two entities. The Town had been poised to cut off the flow of water to Mid-County, effective April 16 at noon, as negotiations between the two bogged down last month. A special meeting was held at Town Hall Wednesday night to rekindle the water talks.

“We had a really good dialogue,” Herb Rentz, Mid-County’s manager, said. “We have a good understanding, and we’re going to meet more frequently – which is important for all water purveyors, to address growth and capacity needs.”

While the new contract still has to be officially drawn up by Winnsboro’s attorney and ratified by the Mid-County Board of Directors, as well as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Rentz said he was confident the deal was done.

As talks on a new deal stalled last month, Town Council unanimously passed a resolution at the end of its April 1 meeting to close all valves supplying water to the Mid-County Water Company, effective April 16 at noon. The cutoff could have affect as many as 5,600 customers, as well as fire protection in the area. Kelly Miller Elementary School would also have been impacted by the decision, Rentz said, as would the Jenkinsville Water Company, which purchases a portion of its water from Mid-County. Rentz said that last month, Jenkinsville purchased 100,000 gallons from Mid-County and that over the years they have purchased millions more.

The new agreement includes a rate increase, but not the increase originally stipulated in the Town’s proposal. Winnsboro had initially suggested an increase from $3.75 per 1,000 gallons to $5.83 per 1,000 gallons. Instead, that rate will be $4.52 per 1,000 gallons.

“But we still have very reasonable rates,” Rentz said, “even compared to Chester.”

Penalties for water use in excess of the contracted sale amount are still in place, but Mid-County did receive a capacity increase in the new proposed deal, from 5 million gallons a month to 8 million gallons a month. Details on the penalties were not available as this story posted to the Web.

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