Know the Facts – What You Need to Know
Recently many comments have been shared with us and about us by adjoining property owners from Lake Bowen, Lake Blalock and Municipal Reservoir #1.
Whether through the recent public comment period for our draft Rules and Regulations document, posted to our social media pages, sent in lengthy e-mails to local elected officials, or through public comments made at monthly Commission meetings – we want to shed light on the truth and clarify the facts.
The following are statements taken directly from comments received by Spartanburg Water System, and the key facts you need to know. Be sure to click on each statement below for a drop-down answer.
- “Over $30 million were spent for the Myles Whitlock Water Filtration Plant that has been inoperable for several years. It was shuttered due to a 21% loss of water sales volume over the past decade, while Spartanburg County growth has exploded. Further, the plant was improperly mothballed, and it would cost millions to restart it.”
Did You Know?
- The Blalock Reservoir (Lake Blalock) was created in 1982 as another reservoir along the Pacolet River for future growth in Spartanburg County. The Whitlock Plant was designed and constructed to provide a water treatment plant on Lake Blalock.
- The vision for the plant was to eventually take on all treatment and eventually decommission the R. B. Simms Water Treatment, at some future date.
- At the time that both the reservoir and the plant were envisioned, Spartanburg County was a leader in textiles for the country. The textile industry is a high volume user of water.
- The events of 9/11 impacted the vision of when the Blalock Water Treatment Plant would be expanded in the future and when the R. B. Simms Water Treatment Plant would be decommissioned. With much uncertainty in the world at that time and South Carolina in a historic drought, it was determined to run both plants indefinitely to ensure ample water supply.
- Over the next several years, the textile industry and its water demand was replaced with many lower volume water users.
- The Whitlock Water Treatment Facility was de-activated due to low distribution demands and higher cost to operate than the Simms Water Treatment Facility. This took place in October, 2013.
- The Surface Withdrawal Act requires a facility to withdraw water from its source every 36 months in order to maintain grandfathered withdrawal status. Spartanburg Water still withdraws water from Lake Blalock and pumps it to the Whitlock plant a minimum of once per year (and documents it on the SCDHEC Monthly Operating Report). This also allows us to maintain the pumps and parts of the Whitlock Plant, even with the plant offline.
- Spartanburg Water System still has staff performing ongoing maintenance and asset management of the Whitlock Plant, even in its offline status.
- As recently as April 2019 during a two-day strategic planning session, the Commissioners of Public Works of the City of Spartanburg discussed the development and implementation of a roadmap for the future use of the Whitlock Water Treatment Facility.
- The Whitlock Water Treatment Facility is still represents an investment for the future needs of Spartanburg County as growth continues.
- “At your Board meeting on June 25, 2019, your CEO Sue made a brief comment about purchasing property on Rainbow Lake Road. She mentioned the reason for this purchase but nothing involving the details of the financials. I have a few and they are the Facts. On May 29 Greenville Homes bought 71.70 acres of land near Fingerville from the Trustees of Elizabeth Lee Huey Trust for $575,000, list price. Deed Book 123Z Page 172174 – Fact. Number 3 – 22 days later, just 22 days later, Greenville Homes sold this property to the Commission of Public Works of the City of Spartanburg for $800,000 cash. Deed Book 124F Page 447449 – Fact. That is you folks sitting at this table. That is a profit of $225,000 in 22 days, $10,000 a day.”
Did You Know?
- Spartanburg Water System purchased 71.7 acres directly adjacent to Municipal Reservoir #1, and also to property already owned by the water system in June of 2019.
- Municipal Reservoir #1 is the main drinking water reservoir for Spartanburg Water System, and purchasing property ensures that it will not be developed in a way that would impact the reservoir.
- Protection of the source water, prior to treatment and distribution to customers, continues to ensure that water rates are affordable for our rate payers.
- The property was listed in February 2019 for $575,000, and Spartanburg Water System, through our agent, offered $600,000 for the property at that time.
- Following the offer, our agent received no communication back from the listing agent until April 30, 2019, that shared the closing date for the property had been extended to May 13, 2019.
- The property closed and was purchased by Greenville Homes SC LLC for $575,000 – less than the $600,000 that Spartanburg Water System offered in February and again offered May 1.
- The new property owner listed the property for $899,000 and approached Spartanburg Water System’s agent.
- Spartanburg Water System’s agent offered $800,000 for the property, which was appraised for $817,000.
- The property closed in June 2019. You can view the press release here: https://www.spartanburgwater.org/spartanburg-news/278/Spartanburg+Water+purchases+72+acres+of+land+along+Municipal+Reservoir+1
- ”I am here to speak on the March 2018 report Spartanburg Water System evidently submitted to SC DHEC which, detailed a comprehensive watershed plan to deal with the nutrient load reduction in the lakes. A 128-page report includes a 20-25 year plan at an estimated cost of $46 million dollars to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus, and to deal with algae issues in the lake. . . This call to cost or reason why the report was required to be submitted to SC DHEC has not been shared with water customers. Imposing rules which hurt adjoining property owners, while ignoring this report with detailed strategies to improve the remaining 97% of the watershed will not improve water quality.”
Did You Know?
- In an effort to better understand the current challenges presented in the South Pacolet Watershed – which includes Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir #1 – Spartanburg Water System requested a report that was finalized and released in March 2018.
- The report was compiled by Hazen & Sawyer, a third-party environmental engineering firm, with input from key stakeholders in the public sector, academia and non-profits dedicated to environmental stewardship.
- The report, Watershed Based Plan for Nutrient Load Reduction in Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir #1, was made available at the August 2018 community sessions hosted by Spartanburg Water System for the adjoining property owners for Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir #1. Hazen & Sawyer were present at the event with the report to answer any questions and provide feedback.
- The goal of the plan is to document the level of nutrients and pollutants entering Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir #1, and to develop potential activities to assist stakeholders in the South Pacolet Watershed in reducing or eliminating nutrients and pollutants.
- The report calls attention to key challenges and concerns, including pastureland, urban and septic sources as contributors to nutrients and pollution.
- As quoted in the report, Best Management Practices (BMPs) that would be most effective in treating the nutrients entering Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir #1: “Among them, vegetated buffer programs, conservation programs, septic tank repair programs, constructed wetlands, green infrastructure, stream restoration, and residential lawn management.”
- Many have quoted the report in stating that an estimated 3,778 tons of sediment are delivered per year to Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir #1. The amount of soil erosion is heavily-influenced by rainfall, steepness, cover management and soil erodibility factor.
- One such “erodibility factor” is linked to lakeshore alteration. As it states in the report as well: “Residential home development and the removal of natural forested and wetland uses from the periphery of Lake Bowen and Municipal Reservoir #1 should be evaluated as a future threat to the lake’s aquatic health.”