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After reading Michaele’s informative article on the county water issues, I thought I might share my opinion for what it’s worth. Personally, I am thrilled to be a customer of the Williamsburg County Water Program. I eagerly pay my bill each month, and cannot understand why anyone, who can, would not want to be a part of the system. The water is high quality, readily available, and even works when the electricity is down. In fact, it was very nice to have water the week our power was out during the ice storm last year. We could flush toilets, and even take hot showers and wash dishes since we have a gas water heater. In addition, when we joined the county water, Bunny made sure the well on our property remain connected to outdoor faucets, so we think we have the best of both worlds.

Twenty-five years ago, Extension specialist predicted during solid waste in-service trainings that water and solid waste would continue to be major concerns for rural and urban communities. Unfortunately that forecast proved to be correct for our county, as we have experienced solid waste struggles and controversies over the years. Frankly, I believe there is still room for improvement in the county’s solid waste program, but for now, trash is not the issue, water is. An established water system is essential to a county’s infrastructure and was instrumental in Richard Treme’s argument for building the federal prison in Salters 15 years ago. As he and I debated having a federal prison in my neighborhood, his answer was always; “It will help build the county’s infrastructure.” Today, I have county water primarily because of the prison.

Two potential problems that Clemson specialists projected were water availability and safety. No doubt, South Carolina has a high quality water supply. In fact, the abundant rain fall and safe ground water is why many people relocate to the southeast. However, as more families and industries move into the state, there is greater demand on the current water supply and more risk for water contamination.

Even though agriculture is vital to our community, the use of pesticides and fertilizer can also affect the quality and safety of drinking water. In addition, the EPA has noted that bacterial contamination from septic tanks is the foremost water quality problem in the United States. That’s just great since we have so many septic tanks in rural Williamsburg County. To make matters worse, barnyard runoff on family farms can lead to water quality issues. So even though our community has not had a great influx of industries or new homeowners, we still have situations that can affect the quality and quantity of our water.

Another concern is that even though our community has a good water supply, many local families have shallow wells on their property. Besides the risk of water contamination, is the chance of “dry well” problems during long summer droughts. Actually before we were connected to county water, our well had spells with “no water” during times of high water usage and low rain fall. One particular time we had company and several showers going on and the water stopped. It did not take long for it to come back on, but it can be very stressful when well water does not meet family needs. In addition there are documented health concerns and potential problems with shallow wells and poor quality water. Oh, and one last point. In the wake of the Mt. Zion AME Church fire, county water does provide better fire protection in rural areas.

One of the greatest reasons I have heard not to use county water is the monthly cost. My water bill, averages $25 a month or about $300 a year. When other bills such as phone, TV, food, gas, electricity are considered, it’s a small price to pay for safe, accessible water. For $300 a year, not only do I have water on demand, but our toilets, showers, and dishwasher are much cleaner without the large numbers of minerals from well water. Another argument is that some residents do not trust county council and don’t think they should infringe on one’s right to have private water as opposed to public water.

Actually, I never even considered council when I joined county water, instead, I connected because I trusted the director of water and sewer at the time, Mr. Whiteside. Mr. Whiteside was committed to the program, explained the benefits, and understood that county water is essential for economic development and growth. Today, Mr. Mixon is carrying on the good work that Mr. Whiteside began.