Over the past year the McDuffie County Board of Commissioners has been attempting to enlist enough water users to allow us to add an additional 72 miles of water lines in the southeastern portion of the county. Because of the recent drought years, wells are failing throughout the county; however, southeastern McDuffie seems to have a higher concentration of these failures.
We currently are fortunate to have the opportunity to provide municipal water in this area. At this time, many citizens have wisely chosen to sign up for a water service connection, although 350 additional customers are still needed to make this project happen. This is another attempt to gain customers by explaining to you the importance of municipal water and how vital it is that we do not miss this opportunity.
Storm Victims -- Those of you who were on a well during the recent power outages should have a first hand understanding of the importance of municipal water. Most of us can improvise heat and light in bad situations. What we cannot do is make the water come up from the bottom of the well. This means buying drinking water, not taking a bath, and a particularly bad situation when nature calls. Municipal water will be there whether or not the power is on. The small additional expense of a water bill is a pittance to pay for peace of mind.
Property Owners -- Municipal water coming to your area will not only improve the safety of your family and property but will also reduce your property insurance premium by approximately 35 percent by lowering your fire rating from a nine to a six. This equates to about $250 per year for the average homeowner; however, if we do not get the required number of new water customers, this service cannot be provided. Insurance savings alone will pay for your water. We need your participation to make this happen.
Investors -- A group with which we have not had widespread contact is property owners with vacant lots. We did not contact you because we did not think you would want to tap onto a water system that you were not immediately ready to use. New information that has recently come to our attention tells us that we may be wrong. Having water immediately available for new home construction not only saves the significant cost of a new well (approximately $4,000), but it eliminates the possibility of drilling a dry well.
If you pay the $21.50 monthly fee for having a ready to use water meter, it will take 15 years of making these monthly payments to equal the cost of a well.
The McDuffie County Board of Commissioners urges the residents of the county affected by this project to take advantage of this opportunity. When USDA made the funding decision for this project, the 1990 census data was used. This allowed us to receive a grant in excess of 53 percent of the project costs. This grant will significantly reduce the amount of money we will have to borrow and assist the county in keeping the user charges at an affordable/reasonable level.
If we have to abandon this project and go back to USDA for funding at a later date, the grant will be drastically reduced because USDA is now utilizing the 2000 census income data. Because of the increase in the county's median household income from 1990 to 2000, our grant funding could be cut by several million dollars. Consequently, user charges would have to be higher to pay operating expenses and debt service requirements associated with the new water lines.
We realize that many of you who are reading this have yet to find a reason that moves you to sign up for municipal water. Our last plea is that you consider what is best for your community and your neighbors in the short term and what is best for you in the long term. In your area, we are aware of 15 wells that failed in 2003. There may have been more. Wells will continue to fail.
By signing up for water now you have the opportunity to help your neighbors who may have failing wells and to help yourself to a safe, dependable water supply, increased fire protection, and drastically reduced insurance premiums.
Please help us help you. Time is running out.