Joint water authority board sets sail

The new board of the county and town’s joint water/sewer authority met during an organizational meeting to elect officers, discuss incorporation and receive an engineering update. Attending the meeting were C. D. Rhodes, III, clockwise left, attorney with Pope Flynn, who represents the new joint water/sewer authority board; County Administrator Jason Taylor; Deputy County Administrator Davis Anderson; Winnsboro Town Attorney John Fantry; County Economic Development Director Ty Davenport, County Clerk Patti Locklair Davis; Mayor Roger Gaddy; Town Manager Don Wood; Fairfield County resident and engineer Kyle T. Crager, senior project manager of water/wastewater operations for Michel Baker International and County Council Chairman Neal Robinson.

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County is gathering all the trappings to lure big industry and with it, more jobs.

It has interstate access, a megasite roughly equidistant between Columbia and Charlotte and a $2 million state grant targeting infrastructure for that site.

Now the county and town have created a joint water authority – the Fairfield Joint Water and Sewer System – whose mission it is to facilitate infrastructure growth at the I-77 megasite.

“I’m excited because it just shows growth for the town and the county,” said Fairfield County Council Chairman Neil Robinson. “I was told we were delusional just thinking about this, but I think we’re on the right path.”

Appointments of a five-member board were made Monday night and board officers were elected. Plans are to meet monthly, with the next meeting scheduled for March 20.

Winnsboro Mayor Roger Gaddy was named the Authority’s board chairman and Robinson was named vice-chair. Other members include Fairfield County Administrator Jason Taylor (treasurer), Winnsboro Town Manager Don Wood and Fairfield County resident and engineer Kyle Crager, senior project manager of water/wastewater operations for Michel Baker International.

“We have to address water and sewer issues if we’re going to grow,” Taylor said. “Without water and sewer the county cannot realize its full potential.”

Talk of forming a water authority has occurred on and off for the past four years, but gained steam in the past year.

The S.C. Department of Commerce recently pumped $2 million into the megasite, seed money that will fund an engineering study with the ultimate goal of building a wastewater facility at the I-77 megasite.

To that end, the state requested that an authority be formed.

Moving forward, the authority said a critical first step involves mapping out existing infrastructure in the county. The board tentatively plans to review those plans at the next meeting.

“I think it would be important to see all the plans that have been done on the sewer and at the same time work on the water so we’re all up to speed,” Gaddy said. “I think it’s important for us to all be on the same page and prioritize things.”

Taylor suggested reaching out to other water providers as the authority’s work moves forward.

Taylor said at this point, merely mapping the size and location of current water and sewer lines is a prerequisite in developing infrastructure at the megasite.

“With all of these little fractured systems, it’s not necessarily a rational way to provide infrastructure to the county,” Taylor said. “We’re going to start approaching other providers of water and sewer and see if there’s an opportunity to work with them.