By: Lauren Harper
Before 1988, the town of Fort Mill was self-sufficient in fulfilling its water needs with the use of a Springs water plant. But since then, this former mill town has been purchasing its water from Rock Hill, and as a result has spent millions of dollars on this necessity. Now, town leaders are contemplating and leaning towards constructing a water treatment plant to supply water to Fort Mill, Tega Cay, Springfield, Riverview, and York County. At a recent town council meeting, Mayor Danny Funderburk stated, “We’re charged to make the best decision for the town’s future water and sewer needs. We have to make the most cost effective decision for the town. It appears that building a water plant is the most cost effective for the town.”
From 2008 to 2009, Fort Mill spent $1,325,421 on water purchases from Rock Hill, and has paid Rock Hill over $850,000 in 2010 alone. The town’s contract with Rock Hill expires in 2014, so Fort Mill leaders are planning the building of this water treatment plant which will hopefully save them a lot of money in the future. The plant could potentially cost the town over $20 million, but according to Fort Mill’s engineering director, Paul Mitchell, it would be “less expensive for us to go into the water business than for us to continue purchasing from Rock Hill under their proposed rate structure.”
This statement is especially true because Rock Hill is expected to raise their rates even more in 2015, or sooner. Leaders are hoping to begin construction on the new water plant in 2012, and for it to be completed around mid-2014. Time is of the essence with this plant, though, because according to Mitchell, permits for the plant must be in place before any building can begin, but officials must be able to complete the plant before Fort Mill’s contract with Rock Hill expires.
Final decisions on whether or not to build the water plant have yet to be made, and assistant town manager Joe Cronin describes it as a “fork in the road,” stating that “One half of the fork follows that water line in Rock Hill. The other puts us in a position to enter into the water treatment business. We would become a producer of our own water than a purchaser and redistributor.” Where to put the water plant also has not been decided yet. Hopefully, whatever the town decides on with this issue will turn out to be the best and least expensive decision for us all.