Recently the South Carolina Legislature passed and the Governor signed legislation that provides for an entity undertaking a new transportation system improvement project to bear the cost related to relocating water and sewer lines. This requirement is especially important to small towns and other public utilities with less than 10,000 customers because it allows for payment of 100% of the cost that has historically been the responsibility of our small community systems. This legislation is very significant to small community systems such as the Board of Public Works, Macedonia Water Works, and the Town of Blacksburg that many times have had to delay or cancel other needed projects, issue public debt, or raise rates to cover the cost of these water and sewer line relocations. Now the cost will be paid by the entity, primarily SCDOT, through existing gas taxes paid by everyone who uses our Interstates and roads, including out of state drivers. I would like to thank our local Legislative Delegation for supporting this legislation.
Unfortunately, SCDOT officials did not feel this original legislation covered the relocation cost of the current Interstate 85 widening project in Cherokee County because it was already under construction. After carefully reading the legislation and understanding it may not include the I-85 project, I contacted Senator Harvey Peeler. Senator Peeler was very concerned about this understanding and agreed to look into this matter. Within 24 hours, I was contacted by Senator Peeler’s office and informed he had arranged a meeting the next day with the director of the SCDOT. Shortly after their meeting, I was informed the SCDOT had reconsidered and the total cost of relocating water and sewer lines in Cherokee County on the Interstate 85 project would be covered by the SCDOT. As a result of Senator Peeler’s diligent service to his constituents, the ratepayers and taxpayers of the Town of Blacksburg, Grassy Pond Water Co., the Board of Public Works, and Macedonia Water Works will save over seven million dollars ($7,000,000) in cost for water and sewer line relocation on the I-85 widening project. These monies can now be used on other needed projects, eliminate the need for additional public debt, and provide great assistance to our Councils and Boards in keeping rates affordable. Since the Board of Public Works provides water to every public water system in Cherokee County, either directly or indirectly, his work will save every public water ratepayer in Cherokee County.
On behalf of the Board of Public Works Commissioners, the Macedonia Water Works Board, and as a ratepayer, I would like to thank Senator Harvey Peeler for his help in this matter and his exceptional service to his constituents.
Donnie L. Hardin