Regional water system offers solutions to water needs
The South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper) is the fourth largest public power utility in the United States and currently provides wholesale water to four entities via the 24-mgd Santee Cooper Regional Water System located on Lake Moultrie.
The new Lake Marion Regional Water System, if implemented as presently planned, will serve portions of six counties – Calhoun, Colleton, Clarendon, Dorchester, Orangeburg and Sumter – including up to 10 municipalities. The system will include a new water supply intake to withdraw water from Lake Marion, raw water pump station, regional water treatment plant, high service pump station, storage and transmission mains.
The proposed service area encompasses approximately 3,000 square miles and is readily accessible from Interstates 95 and 26.
The outstanding natural amenities of the region include Lake Marion, which receives an average inflow of 15,000 cfs from a drainage area extending into western North Carolina.
Santee Cooper and the six-county steering committee retained Camp Dresser & McKee, Cambridge, Mass., to perform the regional master plan study. To maximize the potential to receive state and federal grant and loan funding for the project, sixteen individual preliminary reports will be developed to address the unique water supply, treatment and distribution needs of each of the six counties and 10 municipalities. These individual reports will address water demand projections, the condition of existing water systems and alternatives for meeting future water needs.
Construction of the regional water system and related county and municipal water distribution system improvements will be capital intensive, and state and federal grants and loans will be vigorously pursued.
The regional system is expected to offer economies of scale and cost savings as compared with the alternative of multiple water supply and treatment systems serving the individual needs of the counties and municipalities.
The new system will be owned and operated by Santee Cooper, which will sell water wholesale to the regional customers. Because Santee Cooper is a non-profit organization, the users will purchase water at cost, and in the spirit of regional cooperation, the six counties are strongly considering a system-average wholesale water rate.
The Lake Marion Regional Water System will offer the region a reliable, economically viable solution to long-term water needs.