Avondale's water leak cost millions of gallons

GLOVERVILLE --- Water loss has become a new obstacle for the water authority that hopes to purchase the Avondale Mills system.

 

The Valley Public Service Authority board of commissioners met Monday evening and learned that millions of gallons of water were lost because of a leak in December.

The dilapidated water system serves about 550 customers in Graniteville and Vaucluse. The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control extended the board's due diligence period from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 to deal with the issue.

During that time the commissioners can still decide to pull out of the deal.

Michael T. Terry, a certified public accountant, gave members a report on the estimated gallons of water lost, the expected cash flow from acquiring the system and the losses the authority would incur from servicing the new customers.

An estimated 12 million gallons of water was depleted between December and this month, Terry said. That level of water loss would cost Valley Public an estimated $36,000 a month.

"Even if this is repaired, you would anticipate there would be further loss," Terry said.

General Manager Calvin Smith said the water loss is a result of a leak off South Carolina Highway 191, but engineers have not determined how to stop it.

Terry also informed the board that paying back $3 million in stimulus funds would cost about $9,000.

Commissioner Keith Smith said the water loss could be a deterrent for the board. He also voiced a concern about paying debt services if the Graniteville and Vaucluse customer base decreased.

"We need a working, updated water system," he said during the meeting. "It's too much of a risk with all these factors."

The board met in executive session to discuss a possible contractual counteroffer it will make to Avondale in light of the water loss.

The board will meet before the Feb. 5 deadline to decide whether to close on the deal.

Reach Stephanie Toone at (803) 648-1395 ext. 110, or stephanie.toone@augustachronicle.com.