Guest Editorial: Don’t let Cedar Creek/Center Creek folks shut Fairfield down

Some citizens who live along Cedar Creek and in the Center Creek neighborhood are using fear-mongering and misinformation to try to trick Fairfield voters into defeating the three county council incumbents who have helped bring in 5 new industries, 800 jobs, almost $100 million investment in the county and the lowest unemployment rate in 20 years. They have brought more jobs and economic wealth to Fairfield County in the last 4 years than previous councils brought in the last 15 years combined.

Let’s fact check some of the propaganda these folks are spreading on Facebook about the proposed wastewater treatment plant (wwtp) and the proposed penny sales tax.

FB POST: The wwtp will contaminate Cedar Creek

FACT CHECK: There is no credible evidence that this is true. The contaminated sites referenced by the CC/CC folks are sites with traditional or antiquated wwtp’s, not the MBR system that the county proposes to use. If you Google MBRs or talk to experts in the field about the system, you will find it is the system of choice now of many high end real estate locations including Isle of Palms where some of the effluent is used to irrigate a golf course. MBR is a new high tech system known for discharging close-to-drinking-water quality effluent. That is why the county is investing in this more efficient, more expensive system…so that the effluent will not harm any streams it would discharge into. The fact that CC/CC residents oppose this system is even more astonishing considering that Cedar Creek currently and has for years received effluent from one of those older, less reliable systems. Yet they are choosing to go with it rather than embrace Fairfield’s MBR system which would actually eliminate that older system and leave the water in Cedar Creek cleaner than it is now! And this information has been provided to those residents many times.

POST: The wwtp effluent will ruin the water wells along Cedar Creek

FACT CHECK: There is no credible evidence that this will happen. According to David Williams at the Department of Health and Environmental Control, no water wells in South Carolina have been contaminated by wastewater effluent. And, specific to Cedar Creek, the county requested a hydrologist study the potential impacts on groundwater along Cedar Creek. The study concluded that it would be virtually impossible for the water wells along the creek to be contaminated by effluent discharged into the creek. The conclusion is pages and pages – too long to reprint here – but it is convincing and readily available through the county’s economic development office.

POST: “Now, the county is asking Fairfield County residents, and me when I shop there, to pay a 14% tax on nearly everything that we buy in the county or order online.”

FACT CHECK: That is absolutely false information on two levels. 1) It is not a 14% tax. A penny is a penny, not 14 pennies. The proposed sales tax is only one penny and will increase the total sales tax in the county from 7 cents (6 cent state sales tax plus 1 cent road tax) to 8 cents, not 14 cents. It is a 1 cent sales tax. Period. 2) The additional penny sales tax would not be applied to groceries or medicines.

POST: No Fairfield residents will receive sewer from this $50 million spec plant.

FACT CHECK: This is absolutely false information. As county officials have said many times, the county is pursuing new residential and commercial development with the wwtp as aggressively as it is pursuing industrial development. In fact, initially, the county will extend collection lines along major arteries to allow residents to connect. This plant is estimated to cost only $32 million, not $50 million, and most of the $32 million will be offset by grant funding.

POST: (A summation of several posts) The Town of Winnsboro has an available capacity of 287,000 gallons per day (gpd), and capacity from closed industries would contribute another 255,000 gpd. This is capacity the county could use.

FACT CHECK: This ‘available’ capacity is not accessible to the county. The county has repeatedly answered this, but it continues to be ignored/misunderstood by CC/CC posts. The answer again: The existing collection lines and pump stations for this excess Winnsboro capacity are inadequate, undersized, out dated, in need of upgrading and cannot be used by the county to access the 287,000 gpd. For the growth areas in Fairfield to access Winnsboro’s excess 287,000 gpd, the county’s Economic Director Ty Davenport has already stated that the county would have to spend $10M-$12M on collection lines – or $24 per gallon – while adding zero capacity to the system. Davenport said the county can build a wwtp to initially handle 2 million gpd that would easily expand to 4 million gpd for only $8-16 per gallon. Economically, he said, it makes no sense to spend $12M to upgrade sewer collection lines while not creating any new sewer capacity.

Davenport also said there are 255,000 gpd of potentially “reclaimed” capacity in Winnsboro from companies that no longer use it. But, again, DHEC has not yet signed off on a request for this capacity.  Until they do, Davenport said there are only 287,000 gpd available though not accessible from Winnsboro.

There is another 250,000 gpd of capacity available from Great Falls, Davenport said, but again it is not accessible unless the county lays 20 miles of collection lines at a cost of $30 million. He said that is not a prudent use of county funds considering the county can build a new wwtp that adds 2 – 3million gpd of capacity for only $32 million.

Let’s face it, the longer Fairfield kicks the wwpt down the road, the longer and less likely it will be for Fairfield County to be able to provide better housing, good jobs and higher wages. We can’t wait. We need them now. I should think that everybody in the county would WANT this sooner rather than later.

Don’t let the CC/CC folks talk us into missing that boat.

Vote for a better life.

This council has raised the bar. They’ve done more to bring industry and good paying jobs to Fairfield than any council in years. Why change the balance of power at this critical time and take a chance on someone who isn’t proven.

A vote for Neil Robinson (Dist. 6), Bertha Goins (Dist. 4) and Jimmy Ray Douglas (Dist. 2) for county council is a vote for more industry, more jobs, better housing and greater prosperity for Fairfield County. Vote on or before Nov. 3.