For it is from Winnsboro that all blessings flow — those blessings being, of course, a flow of potable water that courses through a network of underground lines into Ridgeway and our neighbors in Blythewood, as well. Nor are other water companies in the county immune to the growing problem. While the Jenkinsville Water Company may have more holes in the ground than Blackburn Lancashire (thank you, John Lennon), a bulk of their water supply comes from Mid County Water, which in turn receives its water from the Town of Winnsboro. Indeed, only the Mitford Water Company draws its water from anywhere other than the Town of Winnsboro.
Blythewood, just on the other side of the county line, is growing faster than a fungus on month-old loaf bread, accounting for more than a quarter of the Town’s water consumption. Their growth, coupled with drought conditions, has forced the Town of Winnsboro into the unenviable position of implementing mandatory water restrictions, which they are likely to take up at their Tuesday night meeting. This means lawns will be more brown than green for a while, as will the golf course. And don’t expect to be served a glass of water the next time you go out to eat at a restaurant. Residential leaks and drips will have to be repaired or customers will face serious penalties, and your car is just going to have to be dirty for a while.
Perhaps the most serious repercussion is that the Town is likely to place a moratorium on new water taps, which means no new water customers, residential or commercial. And that includes the County’s new industrial park.
The County, to their credit, has foreseen this and already has a backup plan in place to connect with the City of Columbia, should a client come on board at the industrial park and require an immediate water hook-up.
While they may seem draconian, these measures are, unfortunately, necessary if the Town is to get a handle on its rapidly dwindling supply of water. But, sadly, conservation — mandatory or otherwise — will not be enough. For one thing, conservation measures only work so long as citizens are willing to do their part. Too often, there is always someone determined to water their lawn or wash their car, or leave the water running while they brush their teeth, regardless of any threat of fine or penalty. Enforcement is another matter, as we are essentially asking people who already have their hands full to be on the lookout for an entirely new kind of criminal — the water waster.
Beyond restrictions and enforcement, however, there must be a plan in place to alleviate some of our water commitments and to acquire an additional source of potable water. The former, a plan to hand Blythewood off to the City of Columbia, is in the works. When that day comes — sooner, we hope, than later — the mandatory restrictions and moratoriums could be lifted.
The latter, on the other hand, may be years away. A study to draw water from the Broad River currently hangs in limbo, and even upon its conclusion, completion of such a project would still be at least two years in the making.
How the Town of Winnsboro got this far behind the proverbial Eight Ball is anyone’s guess. While they play catch-up, it is our sincere hope that the citizens of Fairfield County will recognize the severity of the situation and will pull together to conserve. Simply praying for rain will also not be enough on its own — but it certainly wouldn’t hurt any.