Officials from Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority (L-EWA) attended a special meeting May 7 to discuss the viability of Fairfield County’s water treatment facilities.
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Central Midlands Council of Governments (COG) called the meeting to discuss solutions to Fairfield County’s ongoing water problems. The town of Winnsboro currently serves water to Ridgeway, Blythewood and surrounding areas in Fairfield County. As of February, Winnsboro has been under a mandatory drought restriction ordinance -- which means residential water customers are limited to 45 gallons per person, per day within a home. The ordinance also sets a maximum usage of 150 gallons per day, per household.
L-EWA General Manager Mike Hancock said, however, that Winnsboro’s water problems are two-fold. Not only is Winnsboro in a drought, but the water facilities are not able to handle the large amounts of water needed to supply the region or to treat it properly with new federal regulations.
“Their water source is drying up, and their facility isn’t equipped to handle the amount of water or the new guidelines they have to meet,” Hancock said.
Hancock said a decision on a solution would come from the Army Corps of Engineers after a two-year study is completed.
“If the Corp of Engineers determines we are the most practical option, then we will assist Winnsboro or Blythewood with their water needs,” Hancock said.
But, he added, he is not interested in just “grabbing up new territory” if L-EWA can’t support it.
L-EWA currently has a water surplus, but due to basin boundaries, Hancock said, it would be difficult to serve those who need it in Fairfield County.
“It’s all uphill,” Hancock said. “We’re not actively seeking a territory expansion and we certainly will make sure any decision that affects L-EWA will not be detrimental to us or our consumers.”
L-EWA was one of seven water districts and agencies invited to the meeting. The others included Jenkinsville Water Company, Midcounty Water District, Mitford Water District, S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and the towns of Ridgeway and Winnsboro.