Piedmont sewer construction slowed by rocks

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By Stan Welch – The sewer construction project currently underway in Piedmont has been slowed somewhat by the amount of rock that has been discovered along the projected path of the new lines. The delays are not expected to affect the project’s completion date.

Joe Cunningham, of the Metropolitan Sewer SubDistrict, or Metro, says the town is like a quarry right now. “The two contractors are currently using hydraulic jack hammers on their track hoes to break through the rock beds they are experiencing. “That is a quicker and more effective method than blasting, at least for now,” said Cunningham in a telephone interview Monday.

Cunningham explained that blasting, not surprisingly, is a much more technical and complicated process, but he doesn’t rule out the eventual need for it. “There is really some serious rock that we will have to deal with sooner or later, so we’re keeping our options open.”

The Metropolitan Sewer Sub district will construct and operate the system, relieving the Piedmont Public Service district of its toughest and most expensive duty. Carol Elliott, project manager for MSSD, said that projections show substantial savings in energy and other costs due to the efficiencies of the new system.

MSSD currently serves 52,500 customers along 600 miles of line in its 168 square mile service area. Approximately nine miles of sewer lines will be replaced in Piedmont.

The total project, which will serve approximately 900 households and businesses in the Piedmont area, is being funded through a $7.8 million forgiveness loan, meaning the loan does not have to be repaid. Those funds are administered by the S.C. State Clean Water revolving fund.

The deal, which the Commission accepted with great alacrity, actually reduced the average customer’s millage by approximately $87 a year. An additional $1.2 million in funding is being sought to pay the costs of reconnecting the 900 properties to the new system.

Parts of the existing system are more than a century old, and required constant and expensive repairs. For more than a decade, the town, like several others in the area, has been under a SCDHEC consent order, which effectively prohibited any growth whatsoever. Since the arrangements with Metropolitan have been finalized, the consent order has been lifted. The new system will be installed and connected by 2014.

Cunningham said that despite the issues with rock, all hands are comfortable that the construction deadlines will be met. “The weather hasn’t presented much of a problem, since most of the rain has come late in the day, allowing a good deal of work to be done anyway.”