Water authority would provide access to all county taxpayers

Published 3:22 pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

To the editor:

It was good to read that some serious steps are being taken (once again) to evaluate the benefits of an independent water authority in the county.

Seems that Ms. Renee McDermott (who usually has an opinion contrary to anything the county commission tries to consider) perhaps has overlooked that the residents of Tryon and the other towns considering the water authority are also county citizens and pay county taxes….some of which have gone toward building the county water system.

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People, like myself, who are on the Tryon water system, are paying a premium price for our water because we are in the county and yet county officials have shown no intent to provide us with an alternative source of water from “their” water system.

So here we are buying water from Tryon and also paying taxes to support the county water system …essentially a water system paid for by people who will never see a single drop of water from it.

For many years, the county government resisted efforts to build a water system to serve the mostly rural areas, partly as a means of restricting the pace of residential development and single-family-home subdivisions.

The county government has a very checkered past as far as public water service goes.

Some time back, I spent a brief period of time on the economic development committee and was disgusted by the anti-development attitudes and the desire to ration water availability in the county to “keep growth under control”…meaning no new subdivisions or industry that might be drawn to the availability of a water line.

Nothing like a recession to cause people to re-visit their views on development, so in recent years the county has seen the light and gotten into the water business.

And as a newcomer to the water business, it’s not surprising the county has a bright new shiny water system (partly paid for by Tryon, Saluda and Columbus residents).

So perhaps it is time for the county government to recognize their responsibilities to all citizens of Polk County …and that means town residents who pay the same county taxes as everyone else and therefore should have access to the same services.

I’m 100 percent behind the idea of a water authority, a system of management that is used by thousands of communities to help remove some of the politics from the water business and also to help obtain the most efficient use of water resources in a given area.

No one can honestly say that our current fractured system of small water providers is efficient for anyone.

Since the residents of Tryon, Columbus and Saluda are also tax-paying residents of Polk County, it seems that county officials (and former county officials like Ms. McDermott) should be trying to establish the most efficient water system for all of their constituents and not just a select few.

I trust the county commission and the newly elected town governments will be looking for ways to make a county-wide water authority a reality instead of looking for reasons to retain the current inefficient system.

– Ted Hiley, Tryon