Okatie, SC (January 5, 2018) – Beaufort Jasper Water & Sewer Authority (BJWSA) has always endeavored to be a leader in the regional environmental movement, and the local utility is currently gaining national recognition for its involvement in the Savannah River Clean Water Fund (SRCWF.)
Five utilities in South Carolina and Georgia are pooling their resources to protect their large watershed, investing a combined $3.3 million over three years in one of the largest bi-state utility collaboration projects of its kind, according to the American Water Works Association (AWWA,) which covers this story in detail in its January 3 edition of AWWA Connections.
BJWSA’s General Manager Ed Saxon will present to AWWA’s board of directors at its annual meeting January 20 in Savannah, along with Braye Boardman, executive director of SRCWF and Peter Stangel, chief operating officer for the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities.
The five utilities include BJWSA and the City of North Augusta, both in South Carolina; along with Columbia County, and the cities of Augusta and Savannah, all in Georgia. The project’s goal is to protect water quality along the river and improve land management practices in portions of the 2.8 million-acre watershed. The watershed provides drinking water for more than a million people.
More than 75% of the Savannah River watershed is forest cover and it is increasingly recognized that maintaining forest cover is a very cost effective way to protect water quality in lieu of building additional process trains and incurring the increased costs needed to treat water obtained from a more developed watershed. The five utilities – whose combined service area stretches 130 miles, from North Augusta to Savannah — are teaming up to keep much of the watershed in some form of natural land. Conservation easements are the most effective tool.
Conservation easements are voluntary, legally-binding agreements between landowners and land trusts in which the owner retains control of the property, but agrees to prevent certain activities to protect conservation values; in this case, water quality.
“Source water protection is a new notion, and when you are talking about spending your money 100 miles away from your jurisdiction on an easement that is in another state, you are talking about a really radical concept,” Saxon said. “I’m hoping by year three we have well over 10,000 acres under easement protection.”
To learn more about the SRCWF, click here.
To read the AWWA Connections article in its entirety, click here.
For more information about BJWSA, visit www.bjwsa.org.
Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority is a public water system and non-profit corporation which handles water and wastewater operations for many areas of Beaufort and Jasper counties in the Lowcountry region of South Carolina. BJWSA has approximately 53,000 retail accounts for water services and approximately 37,000 for wastewater services. The Authority’s three water and two wastewater plants treat an average of 20 million gallons of water for consumption and 9 million gallons of wastewater each day.