More than a week has passed since the Batesburg-Leesville Town Council gathered behind closed doors to receive the findings of a long-anticipated water alternative study produced by New York-based engineering firm Hazen and Sawyer.
While the Town thus far has refused to release the publicly-funded study, much of the Town’s existing dealings in the water world are a matter of public record. Today, in the first installment of a news analysis series, “H2On The Record,” we take a closer look at the Town’s current water business relationships with our neighbors in Ridge Spring and the Gilbert-Summit area.
SELLING TO RIDGE SPRING
A November 1992 contract between the Town of Batesburg and the Town of Ridge Spring, located nine miles down Highway 23 in Saluda County, prescribes that the Town of Batesburg’s Commission of Public Works would sell Ridge Spring up to 12 million gallons of “potable, treated water” per month. The original contract between the two towns pre-dates the consolidation of the Towns of Batesburg and Leesville into one municipal government.
That original contract states that the Town of Batesburg, as the Seller, “assumes no responsibility for the quality or quantity of water furnished to the Purchaser (Ridge Spring) beyond the point of delivery hereinafter specified.”
For that privilege, the Town of Ridge Spring agreed to pay “an amount not to exceed $1.55 per thousand gallons, with the final price to be set after construction,” plus a 15 percent surcharge for water purchased in excess of 12 million gallons. The initial contract was set to run for 40 years.
In October 2010, then-mayor Jim Wiszowaty signed an amendment to the original 1992 contract that referenced a planned joint water venture with Saluda County Water and Sewer Authority (SCWSA).
“The Seller (the Town of Batesburg-Leesville) is presently developing with Saluda County Water and Sewer Authority a new plant for potable water to be located near Lake Murray in Saluda County… The Seller, however, will continue to operate its own potable water treatment plant…and for some portion of the term of this Agreement expects to supply Purchaser’s (Ridge Spring’s) water requirements from the Seller’s Water Facility.”
However, the joint venture between Batesburg-Leesville and the SCWSA fell through, and bad blood between the two entities has lingered to the present day.
Under the terms of the revised 2010 contract with Ridge Spring, the Town of Batesburg-Leesville would provide up to 535,000 gallons per day or 48 million gallons per calendar quarter to Ridge Spring.
Further, the contract states that “as irrespective of the amount of water actually required by the Purchaser (Ridge Spring) or delivered by the Seller (Batesburg-Leesville) in any given month, the Purchaser shall be charged and shall pay for a minimum of one million gallons per month” at the rate of 50 cents per thousand gallons plus assorted costs.
The revised agreement with Ridge Spring extended the contract to November 2053.
Ridge Spring has needed the influx of water supply from Batesburg-Leesville because of the growth of the agri-business sector in the Ridge Spring area.
BUYING FROM GILBERT-SUMMIT
In July 1999, the Town of Batesburg-Leesville entered into an amended agreement with the Gilbert-Summit Rural Water District to purchase water at a rate of $200 for the first 100,000 gallons, with water usage above 100,000 gallons to be charged at $2 per thousand gallons.
According to the Town’s 2018 Water Quality Report, “service to Batesburg-Leesville System No. 2 is provided by the Gilbert-Summit Rural Water District (GSRWD). The GSRWD operates eight wells and sells wholesale to the Town for your system supply. System No. 2 is located in the Batesburg-Leesville School District Three boundary in the Lake Murray vicinity.”