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L-EWA praised for enhancing public health
Assistant Superintendent of the L-EWA Randy Bubba Watts accepts this years Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) award from representatives of the EPA and S.C. DHEC. The L-EWA earned the award for the fifth straight year.

For the fifth year in a row, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) recently honored the Lugoff-Elgin Water Authority (L-EWA) with the Area-Wide Optimization award.

The goal of the program, also known as AWOP, is to optimize particle removal and disinfection at all filtration plants in order to maximize public health protection. L-EWA serves more than 7,300 customers with water in Kershaw, Fairfield, and Richland counties.

L-EWA General Manager Mike Hancock informed the agency’s board of directors with news of the award during a meeting held Thursday. He said the recognition from the EPA and DHEC helps to demonstrate the high levels of diligence displayed by the organization’s water treatment professionals.

“It’s a wonderful thing. To receive this award is truly a confirmation of the professionalism and dedication of our plant personnel,” Hancock said. “This award and the stringent requirements to receive it were formulated by the EPA for a specific reason. That reason was to provide an extra measure of safety for the general public through adhering to a higher standard of water treatment.”

According to DHEC’s website, the AWOP program was established in 1997 and helps to reduce the risk of a waterborne disease outbreak and emphasizes improving the efficiency of existing facilities rather than building new plants.

Also Thursday, Hancock recommended that two line items in the L-EWA’s budget be amended -- dues and subscriptions and utilities.

For dues and subscriptions, only $9,255 was budgeted for the current fiscal year. In light of last year’s expenditures totaling $11,108, Hancock recommended the budget be increased to $12,000. Also, the amount budgeted for utility expenditures for this fiscal year was $130,000. However, last year, $142,708 was spent. Consequently, he recommended the figure be bumped up to a projected $145,000.

Both amendments were approved unanimously and were reflected in the altered budget. The revisions do not require a rate increase. Before the changes, the debt service ratio was 1.23. The revised projections in the budget resulted in a debt service ratio of 1.22.

Additionally, Hancock said Standard & Poor’s Rating Services (S&P), affirmed the L-EWA’s A+ bond rating as well as designated the agency with a “stable outlook.”

He said S&P established the rating after conducting a lengthy conference call with L-EWA officials to “pour over financial statements and balance sheets.”

In other business:

• Hancock indicated the drought conditions continue to remain as reported in July. The region is currently in a Stage 0 drought. He also noted that no mandatory water conservation requirement was being projected at this time.

• Hancock also said the yearly audit of L-EWA was set to take place this month. The results should be available by the organization’s annual meeting, set to take place Sept. 18 at Trinity Baptist Church in Lugoff.