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$20 million infrastructure improvement project underway in West Columbia

August 27, 2009

Contact:  Clare Morris

Cell: 803.413.6808

Office: 803.254.5597

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 27, 2009

$20 million infrastructure improvement project underway in West Columbia

West Columbia is making $20 million in improvements to its water and sewer infrastructure, including replacing the city’s existing sewer lines and installing new water and sewer lines to increase the city’s service area. The new infrastructure will ensure that residents’ drinking water continues to be clean and safe, that sewer lines are reliable, and that adequate water pressure is available for fire protection throughout the city.

“Providing clean and safe drinking water and reliable sewer services to residents is a responsibility that we take very seriously, as it is essential to the health and well-being of every person who lives in our community,” says West Columbia Mayor Bobby Horton.

According to Myron Corley, deputy city administrator, contractors began work on the projects two months ago, and should finish within the next year.

The improvements will include an upgrade to the city’s water treatment plant that will change in the way drinking water is disinfected. Chlorine, used currently, will be replaced with MIOX, a safer method that disinfects using salt, water, and power. The city will rebuild outdated sewer pumping stations and install generator connections that will provide power to the stations during emergencies.

The current water and sewer lines were constructed in the 1950s and are almost at the end of their service life.

“Trying to patch an outdated system no longer makes sense; replacing the system is the best and most cost-effective approach,” says Horton.

West Columbia’s water needs have grown tremendously in the last five decades. In 1950, the city had fewer than 2,000 people. As of 2008, the population had increased to nearly 14,000.

City leaders note that despite the slow economy, now is a good time to invest in modern infrastructure that will serve the county’s residents and businesses for the next half-century.

The city is having the work done at a lower cost than originally anticipated. Contractors eager for work submitted bids millions of dollars below expectations.

The project will also create much-needed jobs. Six construction companies will perform the work; five are from South Carolina. Additionally, two engineering firms will oversee the work.

“This project will put hundreds of construction workers, engineers, and support professionals to work during a period in which those paychecks will make a big different to a lot of families and the local economy,” says Horton.

Horton also believes the upgrades will enhance West Columbia’s economic development prospects by providing better water and sewer service for existing businesses, and adding capacity to serve new businesses.

“We are constantly trying to keep our community as competitive as possible when it comes to attracting new businesses and the jobs and investment they bring. These improvements will help us stay ahead of the curve,” he says.

City Council members have worked to minimize inconveniences to the public as improvements are made. In an effort to reduce excessive traffic delays, pipe construction will be completed at night.

“We are making these improvements to enhance our citizens’ quality of life and to provide future generations with sound infrastructure that will support residential and economic growth,” says Horton.

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