ICWD clarifies hiring expert for contract

Published 11:16 pm Thursday, September 24, 2015

By Leah Justice


Inman-Campobello Water District (ICWD) General Manager Jeff Walker said this week a firm was hired to review a proposed water contract with Polk County, not to analyze the dam.

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Walker responded to an article in the Bulletin on Wednesday, Sept. 23 regarding a study Black & Veatch conducted on Lake Adger’s Turner Shoals Dam in 2009 for Polk County.

“We already have a copy of that report as well as the AECOM report,” Walker said. “We asked Black & Veatch to review the contract we sent to the county in April and to also review the one the county revised and sent to us in August. We asked them to find, out of their thousands of employees across the globe, experts in these areas (hydropower dams, drinking water reservoirs, water rights, contracts concerning drinking water, etc.) to analyze the terms of each contract and we asked that these experts be ones that have never heard of ICWD or Polk County.”

Walker also said from ICWD’s perspective, the proposal they made to Polk is not onerous on the county at all.

“The contract that the county revised certainly does not agree with that opinion,” Walker said. “Further, obviously there are others that believe the county’s revised version of the contract is bad for the county or at a minimum, they would like to see the county hire experts to evaluate the terms. By the ICWD hiring an expert and asking for an unbiased opinion, it is our hope that we may all learn things we did not know previously and I am including the ICWD in that statement.”

In response to a statement in the article that in 2009 Polk County was permitted to withdraw eight million gallons of water per day out of the lake and the proposed contract will allow ICWD to pull the maximum eight million gallons per day (MGD) from Lake Adger, Walker said that is incorrect.

“Neither version of the contract states this,” Walker said. “Both contracts state that out of that eight MDG, ICWD would be able to utilize six MGD and the other two MGD would be reserved for Polk County to use however it sees fit,” said Walker. “The contracts also state that downstream of the dam, the ICWD could utilize another two MGD from the Green River. So, while the total allotment of ICWD is eight MGD, all eight would not be coming from Lake Adger.”

Walker also said out of that eight MGD allotted to ICWD from Lake Adger and the Green River, any amount needed for Polk customers would be made available as treated water from ICWD’s future treatment facility at the cost to produce water.

The beautiful part about this for the county is that not only will it not have the expense of building a treatment facility, on top of that, given the economies of scale, the treated water coming back to the county will be at a much lower expense than the county could ever otherwise hope for,” said Walker. “The ICWD has only proposed to utilize the excess water that the county will not need and even at that, it’s mostly about attempting to protect our customers, in both North and South Carolina in times of drought. It is with this knowledge that I find it ironic that those seemingly seeking to protect the county’s water are actually only protecting it from…themselves.”

Polk County revised the proposed contract over the summer and it now lies with ICWD. One of the main revisions the county made to the contract was to put the responsibility of maintaining Lake Adger’s dam with ICWD for the entire 75-year term of the contract.