2014 already a busy year for Fort Mill water and sewer

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comJanuary 22, 2014 

Guynn Savage


— For those in charge of Fort Mill’s water and sewer service, 2014 is going to be a busy year.

Modernization plans for the town’s sewer plant, updating of stormwater codes and new water service agreements all have spots on the new calendar.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” town Engineering Director Paul Mitchell said.

Beginning Jan. 1, the town’s new stormwater permit was in place to renew the one issued in 2007. But the town has until July 1 to determine what stormwater improvements will be made in the next five years as part of the renewal. Staff expects changes in what’s required of development, particularly redevelopment.

Creek water quality monitoring and reporting will increase. Monthly, on-site stormwater inspections for sites of more than 1 acre could require more staff. The requirement for how much water must be retained on site during heavy rains could double or more.

“There will be additional spending, there will be additional personnel, there will be additional tools needed,” Mitchell said.

Some sites already are planning for increased stormwater standards, like incoming QuikTrip gas stations and The Greens at Fort Mill. At The Greens, cisterns put in during construction will allow the site to withstand a record-level rain event. Councilwoman Guynn Savage heads the town water and sewer committee, which met Jan. 21. Savage told the group she’d like to let builders and property owners know what to expect from new stormwater rules soon.

“The more you know about what’s required,” she said, “the more money you’re going to save compared to having to retrofit later.”

Water service agreements are another pressing item. Mitchell said Jan. 21 he expected York County to come off the Fort Mill water system within days. The move originally was set for last October. Plans were announced two years ago for York County to enter a purchase agreement with Rock Hill rather than Fort Mill. Two lines between Fort Mill and York County were to be valved off, though kept in place in case of emergency.

“It’ll always be there if they need it,” Town Manager Dennis Pieper said.

There’s also work to serve new construction at Kingsley Park. The office building addition, per agreements last year with York County, would create more than $6 million in local tax investments. Mitchell said he’s expecting a draft within a month on the project, but the idea is for Fort Mill to provide retail water and sewer with York County as the wholesale provider.

Waterside on the Catawba, approved at 1,300 residential units, and water/sewer service along the Fort Mill Southern Bypass will take planners’ attention. Those projects are part of the overall system the town hopes to keep ahead of demand.

Last fall, Fort Mill Town Council approved almost $155,000 for a study to see how the town’s wastewater treatment plant can increase capacity. The plant opened in 1987 and was last upgraded in 2004. It’s been operating at about a million gallons per day for more than a decade but is permitted for three times that much.

Results from that study are expected soon.

“We’re looking for a way to modernize the plant in steps,” Mitchell said.

A 30-year projection shows the town will need to process 6 million to 7 million gallons per day. Mitchell wants to see a plan for 12 million per day.

“We’d like to prepare for the unexpected,” he said.

Making the existing plant more efficient or expansion are possibilities. Mitchell said he’d like to maintain just the one site. Savage said it’s important to get as many options as may be out there, now.

“I think we err on the side of getting everything we can out of the engineering dollar,” she said.

John Marks•  803-547-2353

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