JWC head rebukes water authority

JENKINSVILLE – It was another brief meeting of the Jenkinsville Water Company, but what was said afterwards is making waves.

In a brief interview with The Voice following Monday’s meeting, JWC president Greg Ginyard voiced strong disapproval of a proposed water merger between the Town of Winnsboro and Fairfield County.

“Why would we pay somebody to join a water authority when they don’t give us any information about it?” Ginyard said, walking to his car. “They ain’t told us what it’s going to be about, what it’s going to be. Nothing.”

Billy Smith, chairman of Fairfield County Council, said the proposed water and sewer authority would primarily include the Town of Winnsboro and the county. There are no plans to absorb other water companies, including the JWC, Smith said.

“The water authority doesn’t involve Jenkinsville,” he said. “As contemplated, right now it’s between Winnsboro and Fairfield County.”

Smith acknowledged that generally speaking, a broader consolidation of water providers into one system could help lower water and sewer rates.

But the chief motivation behind the current authority plan is to enhance the existing water and sewer system, he said.

“You can pull your resources together and do more,” Smith said.

At its July 23 meeting, the Fairfield County Council voted unanimously on a resolution authorizing the county to proceed with creating a joint water and sewer system. Ginyard attended the meeting.

The resolution authorizes the county “to join with other political subdivisions in the joint system; and other matters related thereto.”

Ginyard expressed skepticism about the water authority concept.

“They said they wanted ‘X’ amount of dollars for you to join a water authority, but they [haven’t said] what it’s going do for you, how it’s going to help, what it’s going to do or anything else.”

Smith said the authority wouldn’t generate any financial obligations on non-participants.

“This is just the start,” he said. “This is going to be a decade-long endeavor.”

As for transparency, the JWC has been dogged by that issue through the years.

In April, after a lengthy executive session, the JWC board voted to accept “Item A,” “Item B” and “Item C” without defining what those items involved.

After a lack of a quorum forced the JWC to cancel its August meeting, departing board members refused to release the agenda to the media, saying only Ginyard has that authority. Ginyard was among the board members absent from the August meeting.

The JWC is also a defendant in a pending lawsuit that alleges violations of the state’s Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA.

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