Water Commission, Gray Court strike an agreement
Water commission board looks to interim financing, approves Gray Court agreement.
Laurens County’s rural water system will manage the Town of Gray Court’s water system, and will install new water meters, as part of an agreement approved Nov. 26 by the water system’s board.
The town will pay Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission a fee if monthly billings do not reach a certain amount. The board agreed to have the commission take on the additional responsibility with the understanding that in six years, the Gray Court system could be deeded over to LCWSC (by conveyance). It’s a 3-year contract, with a 3-year renewable option. It already has been approved by the Gray Court Town Council.
Jeff Field, LCWSC executive director, said the rural water system will pay the cost ($150,000) of changing out water meters for 350 customers. The meter-readings can be done remotely with the change-out technology.
This way, the Town of Gray Court is not responsible for system day-to-day maintenance, but it is responsible for any capital expenses that the town wants to incur to enhance the system. The town is not responsible for acquiring and matching grants, annexations to the system or laying pipe, Field said. “There are a lot of equal benefits,” he said. “We will bill our fees at no cost to the town.” The action adds Gray Court’s customers to the LCWSC’s 16,000 customer base. The action become effective Jan. 1, 2020.
The board spent an hour in closed session to discuss the Gray Court contract, and another contract with Greenville Water System (no action). The board authorized bond issue revisions. Wording in the bond must be changed to allow LCWSC to apply for interim financing to construct the Lake Greenwood raw water intake, treatment plant and distribution system; the bond originally was put into place Aug. 27, 2019. Interim financing will be sought in January, 2020, to be in place by Feb. 1.
Ground-breaking was done Nov. 14 at the raw water intake site, and ribbon-cutting for the treatment plant is projected for next spring.
In a water plant update, Field said LCWSC has just gotten word that a legal matter expected to take four months was handled in a day by telephone between attorneys. Two parts of the $52.5 million project were bid out earlier this month, and two parts were bid out last Tuesday. Primary funding is through a US Department of Agriculture loan.
“This is a unique job for the USDA,” Field said.
All bidders were from South Carolina for the Waterloo-Milam Road booster pump station portion of the project. Another portion of the project saw just a $35,000 difference between the lower bidder and next low bidder - the portion saw bids range from just over $5 million to a high of $7.5 million. By the time the board meets at the end of January, there should be a timeline in place for the construction phase. The four awarded bids are being reviewed by the water project’s engineers. Contractors will be expected to begin work in mid-January.
In other business, after what Field called a “very good month in October,” LCWSC is on track to sell $9.1 million in water and $1.5 million in wastewater (sewer services) for FY20. The commission has received $2.588 in contributed capital (grants) in past three years. It has received another $341,151 in contributed capital from homeowners and industries in the same period, and will have more to be reflected in this category. LCWSC was connected to a small, industry-funded sewer project in the I-385 Corridor and will receive much more in capital - about $3 million - in water and sewer systems from The Connexial Center, Laurens County’s newest industrial park. On the residential side, 64 work orders have been placed so far in FY20 - 12 in October - which is on track for a 240 work-order goal for this fiscal year. Growth is mostly in Gray Court-Fountain Inn and along the Lake Greenwood shore.