Rock Hill water and sewer customers could pay higher rates over the next several years to help pay for about $164 million in upgrades to the city’s aging treatment facilities.
The Rock Hill City Council Monday night approved preliminary plans to pay for $118.5 million worth of upgrades at the city’s Manchester Creek Wastewater treatment plant. The council also signed off on a contract to pay M.B. Kahn Construction Company of Columbia $45.9 million to expand the city’s water filter plant.
Rock Hill is the regional provider of drinking water and wastewater treatment for the area. The city provides water to about 100,000 customers, including about 30,000 in Fort Mill, Tega Cay, the Catawba Indian Nation and to other private water suppliers.
Growth in Rock Hill, as well as in the eastern part of the county including Fort Mill, means the city must invest in its infrastructure to keep up with demand, according to Deputy City Manager Jimmy Bagley. York County’s population has jumped from 226,073 in 2010 to 258,526 in 2016, according to U.S. Census data.
The city currently projects that the average Rock Hill homeowner who uses 6,000 gallons of water per month could pay an extra $2.90 per month in water and sewer fee increases next year.
Based on a presentation Monday night to Rock Hill City Council, Rock Hill is projecting that, each year, customers’ monthly bill would rise by $1.20-$1.40 for sewer service. Water rate hikes might not take place every year, Bagley said.
Bagley said those numbers are simply estimates and could change. Any rate increases would be decided by the city council during the budgeting process.
Bagley said the water filter plant hasn’t seen a full upgrade since 1998.
“We’re buying some time,” Bagley said. “We’ve been putting band-aids on it, a million here and a million there. This will be a true upgrade.”
M.B. Kahn will be in charge of increasing the capacity — from 36 million gallons per day to 48 million gallons per day (MGD) — of Rock Hill’s water filter plant on Cherry Road.
$118 million The Rock Hill City Council approved preliminary plans to create $118.5 million worth of upgrades at the city’s Manchester Creek Wastewater treatment plant on Red River Road.
The expansion includes improvements to the water filter plant itself as well as upgrades to the raw water intake facility on Lake Wylie. Rock Hill officials estimate construction on the projects could begin by January 2018 and end in 2021.
There also are major water capital projects scheduled on Rock Hill roads, such as Eden Terrace and Mount Gallant, to install larger water lines. The improvements, which total about $62 million, can help tie services together to strengthen the system and ensure all customers have equal pressure, including outlying areas of the city.
Those projects are being completed on separate contracts and could be completed as soon as September 2019, according to the city’s latest estimates.
City staff will submit an application to the South Carolina Water Quality Revolving Fund Authority for a $17.6 million loan to help finance the costs of the water filter plant improvements. Bagley said it is a long-term loan on 2 percent interest.
15 York County’s population has jumped by nearly 15 percent since 2010, according to U.S. Census data.
The remaining cost will come from last year’s $90 million Utility Bond, Bagley said.
Among the upgrades will include a new chemical feed building at the raw water intake on Lake Wylie, as well as new pumps, generators and filters.
“It’s a big project and big money,” Bagley said. “We want to make sure people know why we’re doing it.”
The city’s wastewater plant, on Red River Road, will see improvements later. City officials want to help boost the plant’s capacity from 20 to 30 MGD while making it more energy efficient.
Overall, the city estimates the upgrades could cost around $118,530,000.
The city plans to apply for approximately $89 million worth of loans through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a federal-state partnership that provides communities loans for water quality infrastructure projects. The rest of the money would come from the 2018 Utility Bond.
$2.90 Rock Hill currently projects that the average Rock Hill homeowner who uses 6,000 gallons of water per month could pay an extra $2.90 per month in water and sewer fee increases next year to support the upgrades.
The City Council unanimously approved the initial project concept and design for the upgrades. Any future updates, including contracts and bond issues, will come up for the council’s approval.
The last major upgrade to the wastewater plant was in 1991.
“That $118 million will give us the additional capacity to do what we need for the next 5, 7, 10 years,” Bagley said.