Many months of long hours and hard work have paid off for the town of Bethune.
Bethune Town Council announced during its September meeting that the town has received nearly $3 million in grant funds and low interest loans to pay for a major water system upgrade project.
The cost of the project, to include new transmission lines, hydrants, and meters throughout the town, will be nearly $3 million. While about half of the cost will be funded through a Rural Development Authority grant, the town will have to incur some debt -- for the first time in its history -- to undertake the project. This means the town will have to increase water rates in order to show that it can pay the interest on that debt, Bethune Town Councilman Don Witham said.
The town is borrowing about $1.5 million at 2.25 percent interest over 40 years, Witham said.
“We will have a monthly payment of around $4,700 we’ll have to make, so our water rates are going to increase substantially,” Bethune Town Councilman Don Witham said. “But most people we’ve talked to have said they are ready and willing to pay it – they want this to happen.”
The current system, which serves 214 residential customers and 50 commercial customers, was installed in 1935. It has a 75,000 gallon elevated water tank. While some of the pipe materials have been replaced over the years with PVC, most of it is galvanized iron; it also has lead joints. Also, meters are inaccurate and beyond useful life.
“We have leaks constantly, as well as discoloration issues,” Witham said. “One leak under U.S. 1 cost the town about $10,000 to repair. We just can’t continue to absorb those kinds of expenses.”
The new system will alleviate those types of problems, he said.
The system will include new pipes, new meters, a generator, stainless steel piping in the pump house, and a state-of-the-art monitoring system for chemicals.
The bidding process will start in 2017 with construction beginning in 2018, he said.
In other business, Bethune Town Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the upcoming Kershaw County School District Bond referendum and proposed penny sales tax.