Council recommends sending wastewater to the Broad

WINNSBORO – Fairfield County Council members unanimously want to dispose of further debate about the direction it takes with the proposed wastewater treatment plant.

On Monday night, council members voted 7-0 to recommend that the Fairfield County Joint Water Sewer Authority adopt the proposed Broad River discharge site over Cedar Creek.

Council members concluded that the Broad River site would save the county money and generate the needed capacity major industries look for when looking to build.

Councilman Neil Robinson said he previously preferred Cedar Creek, but has since come to realize the benefits of the Broad River site.

“I was not a fan of the Broad River [site],” Robinson said. “My first option was the Cedar Creek [site]. I think this is the right decision.”

Councilwoman Shirley Greene said only the Broad River site possesses the capacity needed to attract more industry.

“The citizens of Fairfield County are better served by providing capacity through growth,” said Greene. “Locating the wastewater treatment plant on the Broad River gives us that opportunity to grow and prosper.”

Not everyone in attendance agreed.

Fairfield resident Robert Hartman said piping required for a Broad River discharge site would be far more complex and costly than Cedar Creek.

“When the final tally comes in, it’s going to cost a lot more,” Hartman said. “Running to the Broad [River] is a very complex process, much more complex than to Cedar Creek.”

Council’s decision doesn’t solidify Broad River as the discharge site, but it does direct the county’s representatives on the Fairfield Joint Water and Sewer System (FJWSS) to press for that option.

The motion as approved Monday night states the Water Authority should move forward without conducting any further studies or analyses. However, no other studies have been proposed. The proposal on the table calls for a third party engineer to conduct a blind review of the American Engineering firm’s numbers and other aspects of his report that have been questioned.

As written, council’s motion last week authorizes “the county’s representatives to accept the recommendation of American Engineering’s final draft of the technical analysis of options for discharge of the proposed wastewater treatment system, to move forward with a site selection on the Broad River for the proposed treatment plant, and make the site selection as soon as possible without any further delay or studies.”

Monday’s vote follows the recent unveiling of a technical analysis by American Engineering’s Bill Bingham that has been two years in the making, and which critics have said was biased in favor of the Broad River site.

Bingham, who authored the analysis of options, estimated a Broad River site would cost about $42.3 million while Cedar Creek would cost $41.9 million, making Broad River, in his opinion, more viable. That option has previously been estimated by others at $75 million to $90 million at today’s costs.

American Engineering’s report went on to say Broad River would wind up costing less money – about $20 million less than Cedar Creek – if larger piping is used. But larger piping would also cost more money.

Public opinion on the wastewater plant was divided during Monday’s meeting.

A Fairfield resident whose name was not audible feared current wastewater plans lack any fiscal accountability.

“It’s possible that without better controls, the joint sewer system could have access to those funds without approval from the county,” he said, without noting his information source. “The contribution of Fairfield County is not a blank check to the joint sewer system.”

Some viewed the Broad River plan as the most feasible and economically beneficial to the county.

Ruchelle Gee, who has fought the Cedar Creek location for two years, said, in her opinion, that Cedar Creek’s capacity doesn’t come close to meeting the needs of big industry.

“DHEC capped the Cedar Creek location at 4 million gallons. What if we would’ve gotten Scout [Motors]?” Gee asked. “Phase 1 requires almost 2 million gallons alone. Do you see how quickly a 4 million gallon sewage plant would be out of capacity?”

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