Residents express more concern over Polk water contract

Published 2:13 am Friday, October 31, 2014


by Leah Justice

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

About 65 residents attended a workshop on Monday, Oct. 27 where the Polk County Board of Commissioners read through a 24-page proposed contract with Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD) to share water resources.

Commissioners held the workshop to go through the proposed contract line item by line item. Although not required, the board allowed comments following the workshop.

Commissioners debated some key points in the proposal, including that ICWD has now decided it will not build a water treatment plant within Polk County, how a joint committee would be comprised to make decisions for the shared resources, a clause that would allow both ICWD and Polk County to sell Lake Adger water wholesale and what would happen if Polk County ever decided to get out of the agreement and how the county would pay ICWD back for its assets if terminated.

While 18 residents signed up to speak before the meeting began, 13 actually made comments.

Guy Greaves said the county should hire an attorney who specializes in water distribution.

“Now every word out of your mouth is Inman and Campobello have some say in our water,” said Greaves. “Why would we be giving this or even entertaining giving this to another state?”

Renée McDermott said it looks like the latest draft throws out almost all proposals recommended by the county’s specially hired attorney Anthony Fox. Fox was hired by the county specifically for the water contract and has given feedback, but was not present at the workshop last Monday.

“The contract remains very one-sided in favor of Inman Campobello,” McDermott said.

McDermott questioned how the interest would be calculated and asked what depreciation schedules will be used.

McDermott then mentioned emails from commissioner Tom Pack, which said that Pack’s changes were the important changes.

Pack interrupted, saying that’s not true.

McDermott said she read it, saying Pack said his comments are the important ones.

“You are telling a lie,” Pack said to McDermott.

“I am not,” McDermott said. “People have seen your emails and don’t try to deny it.”

Pack said McDermott was taking the emails out of context.

“I was talking about the interim county manager’s comments,” Pack said. “Mine were more important than his; to relay mine only. You better put it in context and quit your lying. That’s what you do all the time and I get tired of it.”

David Pschirer said the county should have an economic analysis to look at what the value of Lake Adger is now and long term.

“Because this is a long reaching agreement,” Pschirer said. “This agreement would allow ICWD to sell wholesale water outside of their district without any sort of compensation to Polk County and there is no sort of limitation whatsoever on that.”

Section 5.06 of the current proposal states that any agreement by either party to sell water on a wholesale basis that it either located within the ICWD service area or Polk County shall be submitted for approval by the ICWD Commission if the wholesale agreement is to be entered into by Polk County, or by the Joint Coordinating Committee if the wholesale agreement is to be entered into by ICWD.

Commissioners also recommended during the workshop that the Joint Coordinating Committee, which is to be made up of two representatives from ICWD and three representatives from Polk County, include someone recommended from the Lake Adger Homeowners’ Association.

Pschirer also said the current agreement gives ICWD water withdrawal rights for 50 years once they build a water treatment plan, even if the agreement is terminated.

Section 8.04 of the proposed agreement says in the event ICWD constructs a water plant prior to the termination of the agreement, or expiration of the agreement, the water resources, which include the Broad River line, the North Pacolet River, the Green River and Lake Adger (in that order), shall remain pooled for the joint use of the parties for a period of 50 years. The board did not indicate if that clause could be changed since ICWD has agreed not to construct a water plant within Polk County.

John Calure asked ICWD representatives about the system.

ICWD representatives answered saying ICWD has been in business since 1954, the system does not have a reservoir nor a treatment plant and Broad River Water Authority treats its water.

The water contract is on the agenda for the commission’s Monday, Nov. 3 meeting, stating, “for discussion only.”

See the proposed contract discussed at the county’s workshop on Oct. 27 on the news section of