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Water system meets growth demands with budget

LCWSC runs its Lake Greenwood treatment plant, buys water from Greenville for re-sale, gets a small amount from Clinton, and is negotiating an agreement with Laurens CPW


The Laurens County Water and Sewer Commission will fund its 2024-25 operations with $14.6 Million in revenue, up 5.99% from this year, and will spend a projected $10.75 Million, up 6.64%, according to budget figures presented Tuesday morning.

The budget’s largest category is Water Distribution, as LCWSC generates pure water to sell from its plant on Lake Greenwood, purchased-water from the Greenville Water System in Northern Laurens County, and a small amount from the City of Clinton (Hwy 56 north and emergencies). LCWSC is continuing negotiations with the Laurens CPW on a water-use agreement.

The commission budgeted 500 new water taps for this year - and is on track to meet that mark - and projects selling 750 new water taps in the coming fiscal year. The commission will buy 3 vehicles, will increase its payroll by $115,000, plans to increase capital spending by $833,000, and proposes a $1.2 Million building and grounds project.

The commission’s office is on Hwy 221 South in Laurens.

It is changing out drive-by meters with cellular meters - 1,900 meters budgeted in 2024 and 1,550 meters budgeted in 2025.

The commission bills 16,875 water customers.

Final reading and approval for the budget was provided by the commission’s board in a June 25 morning meeting. The budget committee studied the spending plan on May 29 and recommended full board approval.

Prior to approval, the operations report showed 39 new water taps in May, bringing the year-to-date total to 416, and a total of 223 sewer taps this fiscal year. Most are going to fast-growing subdivisions in Northern Laurens County - Gray Court, Owings, Fountain Inn - as a result of spillover growth from Greenville, Simpsonville, and Woodruff (where BMW is building a massive electric vehicles manufacturing plant). The board was told that one neighborhood in this area, Coachman’s Reserve, is on septic tanks because it is designed as a large-lots subdivision.

Most of the increase in budget-proposed expenses is in personnel. LCWSC has hired 4 water plant technicians for its own workforce (work previously handled by the ClearWater company) and has offered a position for water plant chief, along with a proposed job, water trainee. Full staffing is expected by Jan. 1.

In the second year of a water rate increase, a 2.7% increase will be seen in the average annual rate and a 2.5% increase is proposed for large, non-residential users. LCWSC is increasing its community relations spending by $32,000 - that includes $1,000 each for the Laurens Y (day care) and the Clinton Y (programming). 

“Day care affects our people,” said General Manager Jeff Field. “It is difficult to meet that need and make it affordable.”

On the sewer side, LCWSC is committing $54,000 to a study near Clinton.

This will examine a Miller’s Fork sewer project that would support growth near the Hwy 72 - I-26 “gateway” to the city. This area includes several retail businesses, a hotel, two industrial buildings, and a proposed industrial park on land formerly owned by Whitten Center and deeded to Clinton by the State.  

The budget also includes money to clear beaver dams from rivers and streams that feed the wastewater collection and treatment plant between Joanna and the Newberry County line. 

Beavers are especially active in the river between the P&L company in Clinton and the sewer plant in Joanna but, the board was told, landowners downstream want the beaver dams to improve duck-hunting habitats. 

An identification and mapping system for manholes - to improve maintenance efficiency - also is budgeted. 

LCWSC also funds the operation and maintenance of Lake Rabon, near Laurens, to the tune of a half million dollars/annual.

The LCWSC board unanimously approved the budget, and an adjustment from $500 to $750 for developers to buy capacity in the commission’s wastewater system, during its monthly meeting.