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Water meeting starts boiling over grant-loan

First Posted: 10:19 am - July 1st, 2015

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JENKINSVILLE — Jenkinsville Water Company held a community meeting last week as required for a grant application, but the meeting became acrimonious as the night progressed.

The meeting served as a chance for JWC to provide a public update regarding a grant, and for JWC customers to ask questions and voice opinions about the grant.

Greg Ginyard, president of the Jenkinsville Water Company, said the board of trustees applied for a grant for a water treatment plant that could clean 1 million gallons of water drawn from the Broad River.

Georgina Graham, a consulting engineer for HPG and Company, shared some of the details of the U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, which she said is in the pre-application stage.

“It’s to provide for the long-term needs of the water company and this part of the county,” Graham said.

The grant would total $4.98 million and be part grant and part low-interest loan.

Graham said Jenkinsville is eligible to receive up to 75 percent of the $4.98 million as a grant. The interest rate of the loan depends on when the loan is approved but it usually hovers around 3 percent, and repayment can be done over a period as long as 40 years.

The terms of the grant will become concrete after USDA reviews the JWC’s application and makes an offer, which the JWC board can decide to accept or decline.

“We’re a little bit away from that yet,” Graham said.

Graham also explained procurement related to the project would follow federal guidelines and require invoices be sent to USDA.

“USDA doesn’t write a check,” Graham said.

A question and comment session allowed JWC customers to share their opinions and ask questions about the purpose of the possible grant.

Bertha Goins, former board member and JWC customer, asked why a water treatment plant is necessary.

“How do you justify this math?” Goins asked.

Ginyard said JWC currently buys a portion of its water from MidCounty Water Co., and a treatment plant would allow the company to be self-sufficient, while providing a contingency plan for possible growth in the area.

“We see no need to stop being a consumer and start being a producer,” Ginyard said.

Ginyard also shared his opinion that without infrastructure, such as a water treatment plant, there can be no growth in the area.

D. Melton, owner of Broad River Campground, who is suing Jenkinsville Water Company, asked why the water company would seek to build a water treatment plant when the Town of Winnsboro is close to starting a similar project.

Ginyard said Jenkinsville Water Company is pursuing its project regardless of Winnsboro’s plans and he believes Jenkinsville is capable of producing similar results for less money.

“Would you rather pay $5 million or $12 million?” Ginyard asked.

Goins said, in her opinion, JWC should be attempting to help the Town of Winnsboro.

Melton also asked for a copy of the pre-application paperwork, which Ginyard refused.

Jeff Schaffer, a JWC customer who has been sued for slander by Ginyard, asked about the monthly water usage of JWC.

Ginyard said he would estimate roughly 5 million gallons of water are used each month.

“Thirty-five million gallons of water. Where do you store that?” asked Melton.

Ginyard explained the water plant could produce up to 1 million gallons of water each day, not that it would produce that amount of water past the point of saturation.

Melton asked if the water company makes money off the water it sells to his campground.

It was explained while JWC has not passed a rate increase as a result of purchasing more water because of radium problems with a well, it still produces more water than it purchases, which results in a slim profit margin. This money is then used to allow JWC to operate.

The question and answer session further strayed from the topic of the proposed grant. Members of the audience and board spoke over one another, which ultimately resulted in at least one JWC customer leaving the meeting before its conclusion.

“I’ve let this get out of order,” Ginyard said. “I apologize.”

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