MOUNT PLEASANT, SC (April 8, 2016) - Public water and wastewater lines are routinely placed in the highway right-of-way in order to minimize land acquisition requirements, disruption and costs. When lines are required to be relocated to accommodate road widening projects or bridge replacement, it becomes an unfunded and unanticipated cost for public utilities like Mount Pleasant Waterworks (MPW).
For MPW’s customers this means they bear the burden for the costs of water and wastewater line relocations. To accommodate the widening of Highway 17, MPW was forced to impose a $3 per residential equivalent unit special assessment on all customers in order to recover the cost associated with relocating the water and wastewater lines.
Customers bear the burden of these line relocations because federal and/or state budgets do not cover any cost. All costs are passed down to Mount Pleasant Waterworks’ customers, because the only source of revenue is through customer’s monthly water and wastewater bills.
For these exorbitant costs there are no new customers, no return on investment, and no funds planned within the budget for unexpected projects or unexpected changes to planned projects. Customers actually end up paying twice: once for the road widening (taxes) and for the line relocations (water and wastewater rates or special assessments to cover the cost).
The General Assembly is currently considering Bill S.1157. The bill includes an amendment that would require the Department of Transportation to bear costs, not to exceed seven and one-half percent of the total project costs, associated with the relocation of water and sewer service facilities owned by a public utility of a political subdivision of the State or a not-for-profit utility which is located within a department-owned easement, excluding betterments, affected by the project or improvement.
The bill is sponsored by Senator Cleary and Senator Campbell. On April 6th, the bill was moved out of the Senate Transportation Committee with a favorable vote. The bill will now go to the full Senate and must clear the Senate by the May 1st crossover deadline.
“We sincerely appreciate the efforts both Senator Cleary and Senator Campbell have put forth to support this important bill. Their leadership and commitment to relieving their constituents from the burden of paying double for road improvements and being responsible for funding utility line relocations has been tremendous,” said Clay Duffie, General Manager of Mount Pleasant Waterworks. “We should not let their efforts go without further support. I would encourage residents to reach out to all our local Legislators and ask for their support”.
MPW has incurred $13 million in expenditures for line relocations and is currently faced with an additional $18 million over the next five years. Approval of this bill will be substantial for the MPW’s customers. If approved, customers will no longer be responsible for all the costs of relocating utility lines in order to expand roadways and bridges.
Take time to show your support for this important bill by reaching out to all Legislators asking that they support Bill S.1157. You can find each Senator and Representative’s contact information at www.scstatehouse.gov. You can also contact the Senate Clerk at 803-212-6200 and the House Clerk at 803-734-2010. Take time today and make your voice heard. Show your support and stop paying double.