Laurens County's Water Future
Laurens County Water & Sewer Commission: Water demands will be met by $52.5 million investment.
When the Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission was founded, it got started with the largest rural development grant ever awarded.
When the same agency, LCWSC, sought to build its first treatment plant, it was awarded the largest rural development grant presented that year.
That was just a single coincidence of several pointed out Thursday afternoon on a portion of the Baptist Assembly’s point-and-cove bank on Lake Greenwood in rural Laurens County.
The coincidences occurred about 35 years apart - in the same month.
November, obviously, is a very good month for Laurens County’s rural water and sewer services provider.
This water plant - LCWSC’s first - is a $52.5 million project. Its primary funding sources are a $41.3M US Department of Agriculture - Rural Development low interest loan and the LCWSC ratepayers. The rural water agency expects that no new, future rate hikes will be needed to complete the raw water intake, water treatment plant and distribution system.
The water intake is just off Baptist Assembly Road. The two-story water treatment plant will be on New Cut Road. The project will take two and one-half years to complete.
Debbie Turbeville, USDA-RD State Director, said, “When I started in 1982, I guarantee you they would have come out and taken a look at the project and said, ‘Start building’. It was a different kind of agency; over the years it seems like the rules and regulations and red-tape just got more and more. I’d like to thank you for allowing us to finance your project. If there are any other projects you need in your communities, please don’t hesitate to contact us because we like to spend money. I don’t like to send money back, and I like to take money from other states when they don’t spend it.
“Partnerships, that’s what we’re working on now; we want to have good partners and we are working on partners in South Carolina. This is the perfect example because y’all have a lot of good partners.
“And, remember, when rural America prospers, all of America prospers.”
Citing explosive growth in Upstate South Carolina, Ted Davenport, LCWSC Board of Commissioners chairman, said, “Lake Greenwood is the only source that can sustain our water needs in the county for generations to come. Moving forward Lake Greenwood will be the water source for both counties. We stand on this bank and look across at Greenwood County with the common purpose of protecting and preserving this great resource.”
Speakers in addition to Turbeville and Davenport for the Nov. 14 program, under a heated tent on a cloudy, lake-wind-blown day were Reiny Koschel, Laurens Baptist Association, Invocation; Jeff Field, LCWSC Executive Director; State Sen. Danny Verdin; State Reps. Mark Willis, Stewart Jones and Doug Gilliam; Dr. David Pitts, Laurens County Council Chairman; and Steve Brown, Greenwood County Council Chairman.
Before the project could reach the design and funding stages, LCWSC had to acquire raw water intake permits from Greenwood County (the lake’s owner), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the lake is formed by a hydro-dam on the Saluda River), and the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control - “and they don’t just hand those out,” Field said.
After the ground-breaking, everyone who attended was asked to gather behind the shovels for a commemorative photo - taken by professional photographer Hunter Holmes from a ladder, and by the LCDC’s Whitney Robertson piloting a drone. The vast gray waters of Lake Greenwood and the opposite bank of Greenwood County were the appropriate background for an infrastructure milestone photograph.