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Pelion area to get municipal sewer service after Joint Water & Sewer Authority named official pr

Pelion, SC (Paul Kirby) – Lexington County Council voted Tuesday afternoon to name the Lexington County Joint Municipal Water and Sewer Authority the designated sewer provider for the Pelion area. This move could be a major game changer for the now mostly rural area southwest of the town of Lexington. Many thought this type of service would never come to the rural, working class community. As a part of the partnership that provides government sewer service in Lexington County, waste water from central and southern Lexington County is piped all the way to the City of Cayce’s processing plant on the Congaree River. A lack of access to government provided sewer has often been blamed for the stunted growth of the area. In 2016, then Lexington County District One County Councilman Jim Kinard said in an interview with The Lexington Ledger that the lack of water and sewer service was the main reason that no large manufacturing facilities or other consumer service businesses like a larger retailer or even a modern laundromat could come to Pelion. A partnership between Lexington School District One and the Lexington County Joint Municipal Water & Sewer Authority is what is making this service a reality now. For years, the school district has run all its waste water from Pelion’s high and middle school to the elementary school on Pine Street at the west end of town. There, the school district operated their own small waste water treatment plant or lagoon facility, to treat that waste. The waste from Forts Pond Elementary is run into a septic system that infiltrates into the school’s grounds. The district owned lagoons are a less than optimal situation that used to be common and necessary in many small communities. The problem is they are unsafe, and over the years dealing with sewer has gotten more complicated as environmental standards have changed. Today, sewer plants require well trained operators and constant maintenance and supervision. They must be upgraded regularly and are extremely costly, especially when your area of expertise is education and not dealing with waste water. This is the case in the Pelion area where the district’s lagoon facility is now in need of upgrades and improvements. Through a partnership with the commission, the school district’s treatment plant at Pelion Elementary will be closed, and that area of the campus will be available for repurpose. All the waste water that used to be treated there will be run through a newly built system of pipes, manholes, and pump stations that will allow the Pelion sewer to tie into an existing LCJMWS system. This is what’s known as a force main system. According to Donna Peeler, spokesperson for the commission, the new lines will follow Edmund Hwy. (SC 302) to South Lake Drive (SC 6) and connect to the existing system somewhere near Bluefield Road just south of Red Bank. Then, the existing system’s pipes will carry the waste to the City of Cayce plant on the Congaree. This new arrangement will not only get the school district out of the sewer business, it will also allow other homes, businesses, and developments to tie into the new sewer line if they want to or it’s necessary. This removes a key obstacle for good growth in the area. The Lexington County Joint Municipal Water & Sewer already provides the fresh water to the Pelion area schools. A number of years ago, Pelion’s small municipal water system was sold to the commission. This acquisition, plus the construction and extension of the new water lines, makes clean, fresh water available for any development that requires it on most of the area’s major roads and arteries. Right now, a new, larger potable water line is being run from Edmund Highway (SC Hwy 301) down Old Charleston Road to the Lexington County Airport at Pelion. It is expected to be completed next month. It is important to note that the commission's water lines are important for reasons other than drinking purposes. The commission routinely installs fire hydrants along their lines so that firefighters can access them when battling fires. This eliminates the need for tankers during fires and frees up manpower for the firefighting. Fire hydrants also cause the property owners near them to have lower homeowner and property insurance rates. Lexington County School District One is the commission’s third largest customer, serving more than 50% of the schools and enrollment population of the sprawling school system. Scott Whetstone, Lexington County Council District One’s councilman, said after the vote, “This partnership provides our area a great opportunity for growth that can make the community better, and it doesn’t force us to raise taxes on your property to make it happen. This project also doesn’t force us to change the area’s rural character, it just gives us the opportunity to do bigger and better things when we want to.”

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