Water losses continuing to plague town of Lamar

By Samantha Lyles


Lamar Town Council convened their regular monthly meeting on Jan. 11, with most Council members and guests joining virtually via Zoom teleconference due to spiking COVID-19 case numbers in Darlington County. During a phoned-in presentation, accountant Douglas Poston briefed Council on the mid-year budget numbers, including a shortfall in municipal water billing. “The town did have some huge water bills, and they made a $20,000 payment (to water provider Darlington County Water and Sewer Authority), but that did not include all that was owed,” said Poston. He explained that to date in this budget year, expenditures for the Water and Sewer utility fund total $205,000, and receipts are not keeping pace. “It appears that there’s a lot of water that’s being used or charged to us, that we’re not able to recoup,” said Mayor Darnell Byrd McPherson. “Something is going on, either with the way it’s calculated, with readings, or leaks…a 34 percent loss of revenue in water is just horrible.” Water and Sewer system consultant Jannie Lathan delivered the good news that the design for the Zion Pump Station upgrade project “is 100 percent complete” and the project will be bid out in late February or early March. This project was funded by a $500,000 grant for sewer system improvements from SC Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA). It includes an overhaul of the crucial Zion Pump Station and installation of 3,200 linear feet of new sewer line. Mayor Darnell Byrd McPherson asked whether the Zion station – which needs frequent attention and repairs – can hold on and continue operating until the upgrades begin, and Lathan replied “that is our only option.” Lathan said closeout work on the wastewater treatment plant upgrades is almost finished as well. “That work is essentially done. We are waiting for some closeout requirements from the engineer,” said Lathan, adding that she had requested in late December that the necessary closeout paperwork be completed by Jan. 8, and engineering firm Davis & Brown has yet to provide it. Council member Angele White Bradley asked whether the town is facing penalties from SC DHEC due to the delayed closeout documentation. “The town is already enduring a penalty because this work was not closed out on time. I think that penalty was like $14,000,” said Lathan. Mayor McPherson suggested that if the documentation is not received soon, the next request should come from Lamar’s town attorney, Gene Warr. Lamar Police Department Chief Carl Scott announced that the town’s municipal court will be closed through April 19 due to the pandemic. He also noted that the Lamar Neighborhood Watch will hold a meeting on Feb. 4. These meetings normally take place at 6 p.m. at Lamar United Methodist Church, located at 103 N. Darlington Avenue. Lamar Town Council’s regular meetings take place on the second Monday of the month at 6:15 p.m., and are live-streamed to the public via the Town of Lamar SC Facebook page.

Author: Stephan Drew

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