Polk’s water business

Published 3:16 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Editor’s Note: The following was delivered to the Polk County Board of Commissioners during their Monday, Oct. 2, 2017 meeting during Citizen Comments period.

The new Looking Glass Creamery business customer is a good example of the intricate workings of Polk water business. Broad River Water Authority Treatment Plant will send the unknown demand (MGD) of finished water supply, through this new Waterline Extension project which Polk citizens contribute $34,125 using the county’s current 60/40 split policy.

Just like the rest of Polk’s 65 miles waterline distribution system, Polk County will own this infrastructure, be responsible for its repairs or replacement, but cannot generate any revenue (profits) from the waters flowing through them. ICWD of South Carolina owns the water rights and generated revenues inside Polk’s pipes in exchange for operating and maintaining the system for the next 30 years. This contracted service was deemed necessary because Polk County has chosen not to have a Water Utility Department or Public Works Department.

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It is said and stated in several reports; including ongoing Water System Regionalization study that Polk County only has 152 water customers, expects a slow growth of 2% (20/20 Vision Plan update), is small-using only 0.1MGD or 100,000 gallons of water per day (Hartman 2016 Lake Adger Supply Appraisal) and therefore cannot justify having its own water utility department to run its own water business.

Truth be told, one of those 152 customers is the Tryon International Equestrian Center (with 8 separate accounts using approximately 1 million gallons per day), another one will be the new Creamery, another one the Law Enforcement Center, each of the public schools, fire departments, etc., etc. and each one of those customers will surely demand huge-untold amounts of water … but because by previous contract arrangement, ICWD, not Polk, gets to claim each of those customers’ demands as his own water consumptions/uses/revenues…so only Inman Campobello Water District of South Carolina appears to show significant historical, projected growth, water supply use/needs and most revenues generated for BRWA.

Truth is… its Polk County’s customer base and our water demands that are exponentially growing. It is up to our Polk County Commissioners, our only water business managers, to negotiate safe-adequate water supplies for its citizens and businesses based on reality and true numbers, in order for most equitable and successful outcomes to be realized.

Sky Conard, Mill Spring, N.C.