Problems discovered with joint water interconnect

Published 7:57pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

Maximum exchange would strain Saluda system

The City of Saluda cannot send water to the towns of Columbus and Tryon without straining its water system, officials said Dec. 11.
Saluda City Council met Monday and recessed the meeting until Tuesday, Dec. 11 to hear a water model report from its engineer.

The report showed that the joint project between Columbus, Saluda and Tryon that ran a water line in order for the towns to share water sources is faulty. Although Columbus and Tryon could send water to Saluda, Saluda will not be able to send the maximum amount of water down the mountain without major changes.

Engineer Jonathan Hollifield presented a water model report to Saluda commissioners that showed what would happen if the maximum of 400,000 gallons per day of water were sent to Tryon or Columbus.

“As you can see, when you’re drawing all this water down to Tryon and Columbus, you’re stressing your system,” Hollifield said.

The problem would especially be prevalent for residents on the north side of Saluda where little to no water pressure would be present while sending water down the mountain.

Hollifield said in order to remedy the problem Saluda needs to replace its water tank and have a higher water level in it, upgrade the city’s pumps at the water tank and to isolate the two systems. Hollifield said by isolating the systems the interconnect tank could fill independently. When Saluda’s tank gets low, they can shut off the interconnect flow until the town tank is filled, Hollifield said.

The contract between the towns said they could exchange up to 400,000 gallons per day. The tank constructed for the interconnect, located along Howard Gap Road, can hold 85,000 gallons. Hollifield said that tank would have to be filled five times in order to meet the 400,000-gallon maximum.

“If this tank were 400,000 gallons, you could fill it overnight and they would have their full amount the next morning,” said Hollifield. “You have a minimum tank size for the amount of water agreed to be sent.”

Saluda Mayor Fred Baisden asked how the engineers on the interconnect project could have missed that.

“This [issue] was created because somebody didn’t do their job,” Baisden said.

Saluda City Administrator Erny Williams said he’s addressed it with the engineer and was told they only had to prove they could get 380 gallons per minute from the system. Under certain conditions, the system can do that, Williams said. But, if there are multiple uses, or if more homes were added, the system isn’t going to be able to handle that, Williams said.

The joint water project was accomplished through grants and the towns sharing a loan. All the towns approved the final agreement in March of this year.

Under the agreement, all three towns share ownership of the approximate 7-mile-long water line, the 85,000-gallon storage tank, five booster pumps and a valve and master meter. Both Tryon and Saluda picked up new customers along the water line.

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