Lamar Town Council gets water system repair update

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer,

Lamar Town Council held their regular meeting on Monday, July 9 and heard an update on the ongoing efforts to secure funding for repairs to the municipal water system.

Mike Hanna of Hanna Engineering gave a brief history of Lamar’s water woes, which began in early 2016 when testing detected trace amounts of radium in both of the town’s wells. Lamar began buying water from Darlington County Water & Sewer Authority (DCWSA) and started the process of securing grants and loans from state and federal agencies to make long-overdue repairs to the system.

Through Hanna Engineering and Jannie Lathan of Lathan Consulting LLC, Lamar is pursuing a loan/grant package from USDA (with additional funds from South Carolina’s Department of Commerce and Rural Infrastructure Authority) to finance about $3.8 million in repairs and updates for its water system.

The project addresses several key system needs, including building a new water treatment plant, painting and upgrading two water towers, sinking a new 250 GPM (gallons per minute) well, and replacing dated and unreliable water meters with new RF (radio frequency) models.

Hanna said that the new treatment plant will be equipped to treat the water if radium is detected from the new well, and the plant will also be able to clean and improve Lamar’s iron-rich water.

“You’ve always had iron in the water here, and you had a treatment plant that was the best they had in 1965. Technology has gotten a lot better since 1965,” said Hanna. “We just installed one of these plants six or seven years ago in Latta and it’s working wonderfully. They have zero iron coming through the system.”

Hanna told Council and guests that all the necessary paperwork had been prepared and all that remained was for Mayor Darnell McPherson to sign and submit the forms for consideration. He said that if all goes well, the project should be completed within two years.

McPherson and Council briefly discussed the other side of Lamar’s water/sewer issues, and talked about the poor condition of the town’s sewer system. Having asked for a review of the sewer system by the DCWSA, McPherson read a list of estimated repair costs which totaled over $400,000. These included replacing two pump stations, replacing sandbed pipes, upgrading the chlorine treatment and effluent buildings, and replacing aged electrical control panels.

Though McPherson said she would prefer to cede control of the problematic and unprofitable sewer system to DCWSA, some members of Council disagreed.

“I’m all for keeping the water and sewer in town because that is a good income – the only income that we’ve got. If we do away with it, what are we going to have to fall back on?” said Council member Lang Howell.

Author: Stephan Drew

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