County commissioners hear water system status update

Published 5:00 pm Monday, August 11, 2014

By Claire Sachse

Jeff Walker, general manager with Inman Campobello Water District (ICWD), provided a water system status report to the Polk County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting Aug. 4.
Walker’s presentation detailed the relationship between ICWD, Polk County and the Broad River Water Authority (BRWA) since it began in 2008. Mutually beneficial to all parties, Walker said that the ICWD needed a wholesale water contract, BRWA needed a large wholesale customer and Polk County needed public water.
Construction on the 7.23 mile, 20-inch water line was completed in just over four months in 2008. Since then, 16 water line projects have been approved, a water line extension policy was developed, the ICWD service contract was extended and the BRWA purchase contract was expanded.
Walker provided a chart summarizing how the water line through Polk County has improved access and service over the past six years.
He also said that the cost of water per 1,000 gallons to Polk County’s customers has remained at $3.25 for this period, but that the tap fees have decreased from $1,500 to $700. Walker also said that the average monthly household water bill for ICWD customers in Polk County was $33.16, as compared with $46.69 for Columbus’ customers, $86.74 for Saluda’s customers, and $92.95 for Tryon’s customers.
In addition to the positive aspects of the relationship, Walker also acknowledged some of the difficulties that ICWD experienced early in the partnership.
“Essentially it all worked,” he said, “but there were struggles along the way. Communications was one issue such as people not knowing who to contact. But that has evolved. The vast majority now seem to know to call us first. We’ve kind of become synonymous with water service in rural Polk County.”
The process for handling water line breaks and repairing lines that ICWD had little control over was another issue that Walker said has evolved over time.
Commissioner Ray Gasperson asked whether the county’s current contract for 600,000 gallons per day would be enough to accommodate the needs of Tryon International Equestrian Center, and Walker said that it would.
“That doesn’t scare us at all,” said Walker, in reference to the 235,000 gallons per day estimated usage by the resort when it is fully built and occupied.

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