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L-EWA discussions options to fix clearwell

Posted: July 12, 2011 4:47 p.m.
Updated: July 13, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority (L-EWA) Board of Directors is faced with making an important decision.

Members were informed during a board meeting Thursday that one of the clearwells at L-EWA’s water plant on Wateree Dam Road is leaking -- and options for fixing the problem can be costly.

A clearwell is used to store filtered water that has already been treated. Currently, L-EWA has two clearwells at the Wateree plant, one with the capacity to hold 500,000 gallons of water and the other 250,000 gallons.

The larger of the two is leaking approximately 5 to 10 gallons per minute, L-EWA general manager Mike Hancock said, but the leak isn’t a continuous flow of water. Depending on the temperature and weather, the metal in the containers expand and contract.

The meeting was held at the plant, so board members could see firsthand how the leak was affecting business.

Hancock told the board they didn’t have to make a decision immediately, but wanted to open up the table for the discussion of two options.

The first, cheaper option, Hancock said, would cost an estimated $300,000 to $350,000. It would cover expenses to refurbish the existing clearwell to its original condition as well as repair the piping and valves around it.

The downside? It will need to be refurbished again in 10 to 15 years, Hancock explained.

The second option is to purchase a new clearwell, which can carry a price tag of $1 million or more.

“However, you won’t have to spend $300,000 every 10 to 15 years on maintenance,” Hancock said.

In addition, a new clearwell would hold 1 million gallons of water, and would be large enough to replace both clearwells. Hancock said while the second clearwell hasn’t leaked yet, it’s only a matter of time.

“Yes, they are expensive, but there is little to no upkeep for them,” Hancock said about purchasing a new one. The investment, he said, would also increase L-EWA’s water capacity by 250,000 gallons.

The board didn’t make a decision and plans to discuss the options further at a later date.

In other business:

• Hancock said even with the recent rain, the area is still in a drought condition.

• L-EWA received the Water and Sewer Energy Efficiency Grant from the S.C. Budget and Control Board. The grant is worth $14,200.

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