Information Relating to the Railroad Lawsuit


Dear BJWSA Customer,

In 2009, the Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority (BJWSA) purchased the Port  Royal Railroad Right-of-Way (RR ROW) from the South Carolina State Ports Authority Our purpose was to  better serve our customers by protecting the existing BJWSA infrastructure located within the RR ROW and  simultaneously providing a benefit to  the citizens of Beaufort County.

The RR ROW was purchased through the operation of the National Trails  System Act, commonly referred to  as the Trails Act, as part of a process  known as “railbanking.” This “rails-totrails” initiative was a collaborative  effort between the BJWSA, Beaufort  County, the City of Beaufort, and the  Town of Port Royal to convert the RR  ROW into a trail that could be used  for various recreational activities. As a result of the RR ROW  purchase, many citizens are now able to take advantage of  the popular Spanish Moss Trail in Northern Beaufort County.

Recently, one group of landowners along the RR ROW  settled a class-action lawsuit they had brought against the  United States federal government. In that lawsuit, those  landowners claimed that the federal Surface Transportation Board’s decision to allow the RR ROW to be “railbanked”  without the landowners receiving just compensation was unconstitutional. The federal government and the  landowners in that lawsuit agreed to settle the case prior  to a decision on the merits with the landowners receiving  compensation for the fair market value of the land in  dispute. Currently, there are two additional groups of landowners bringing very similar class-action lawsuits  against the United States. Those two cases have not yet  been resolved. The BJWSA was not involved in any way  with these lawsuits.

However, certain landowners along the RR ROW have filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against the BJWSA.  The landowners claim that the BJWSA is trespassing  in the RR ROW and has illegally taken the  landowners’ subsurface and aerial rights without  just compensation. The landowners filed lawsuits  in both federal and state court seeking monetary  damages for their claims.

It is important to the BJWSA that its customers are aware of the pending lawsuit. We are working  diligently to protect not only our infrastructure located within the RR ROW but also to protect those  who rely on our water and sewer services. To be clear, the BJWSA purchased the RR ROW in good  faith. We believe that we have acted appropriately, and we have engaged legal counsel to vigorously defend  these lawsuits. And most importantly, we do not anticipate any interruption in the quality or delivery of our services.

For additional information specifically related to these lawsuits, please see the information on this site. We will continue to provide information regarding the status of the suit on our web page as we move forward. We appreciate your continued trust in BJWSA.

With Warm Personal Regards

—Ed Saxon, General Manager


Federal Complaint (PDF)

Federal Complaint Answer (PDF)

State of South Carolina Complaint (PDF)