The summer drought of 1998 tested North Augusta's capacity to deliver water to its 28,000 customers.
The city came within a half-million gallons of its 8 million gallon limit once during the six-week dry spell.
On Monday night, the North Augusta City Council unanimously agreed to seek bids on an $8 million expansion of its water plant to increase capacity to 14 million gallons per day.
City officials insisted the summer peak had nothing to do with the decision to upgrade the water system.
"Plans for the expansion have been ongoing for well over a year now," said Mayor Lark Jones.
Monday night's unanimous vote authorizes B.P. Barber & Associates of Columbia to solicit bids for the proposed expansion. Work is expected to begin in July and end in January 2001.
"It will keep our system current and up to snuff and take care of future growth," Mr. Jones said.
The water plant expansion is the first in a series of improvements to the system planned over the next few years, including increasing water storage capacity and upgrading the city's water distribution network.
According to an analysis of data collected by Barber and presented to the council in January, the city's water usage has steadily increased since 1983 and is expected to grow even faster in the next few years.
Growth in demand is anticipated with the continuing development in the northeastern section of the city along Sudlow Lake and Ascauga Lake roads.
Future demands from the Breezy Hill Water District, a wholesale customer, are expected to increase from the current 750,000 gallons of water per day to more than one million.
When Breezy Hill, which supplies water to Sage Mill Industrial Park in Graniteville, has reached its capacity of 1.85 million gallons or if another industry locates at Sage Mill and requires extra water, the city would be able to increase the amount sold to Breezy Hill up to 3 million gallons per day.
Pat Willis can be reached at (803) 279-6895 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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