Residents in the southeastern portion of McDuffie County have been waiting a long time for a reliable source of water. That wait will soon be over, according to county officials.
At a recent meeting, County Commission Chairman Charlie Newton announced that the $8 million USDA water line expansion project would go to bid within the next six to eight weeks. A mountain of paperwork and door-to-door visits for customer signup delayed the project for some time, he said.
"The main thing was all the user agreements," Chairman Newton said. "At first we had a difficult time getting the customer base we needed to move forward."
Some of the folks who signed user agreements opted to pay later during a visit to Thomson City Hall. But Chairman Newton said many of those people never showed up to pay the tap on fee which delayed the project.
Later, the county acquired a Community Development Block Grant from the state to sign up low to moderate income households that might not have the funds to cover the initial fee. After the county turned in that paperwork, the USDA pointed out that additional paperwork was needed for each of the CDBG customers.
"It seems like every time I felt like I was ready to go, here comes another problem," Chairman Newton said. "But now the paperwork's in place. Our user agreements have been approved, and we're, right now, starting back into the permit process."
Having the water lines in place will be a huge positive, according to county officials. Residents will have water available under all conditions.
"People won't have to depend on wells," Chairman Newton said. "We get into a drought period, like we may have coming this year, and people will have a dependable source of water. They will have water during power outages, and it also will probably spur some development in the southeastern part of the county."
The expansion project has been in the works for at least eight years, Chairman Newton said. In 2001, the USDA and county officials agreed to consolidate two separate projects into the one that is in the works now. On the current timeline, construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of this year.