South Carolina Rural Water Assists Short-Handed Utility

LORIS, S. C. – When the long-time city administrator and city clerk of Loris, S.C. retired, the small town of 2,400 the public water system was left with no experienced city officials to manage the utility. They contacted the South Carolina Rural Water Association to assist in putting procedures in place and getting the staff appropriately trained.

The problem in Loris is common to small towns and rural water districts. Small systems with tight budgets often cannot afford a large staff that can withstand several employee departures. Loris was left with several workers in temporary positions, none of them with experience maintaining a water system.

Jesse Miller, an SCRWA circuit rider, arrived at Loris and began reviewing the utility’s needs.

“I prepared some written compliance programs for the city,” Miller said. “We spent the day reviewing each program and discussing how each program related to properly operating a public water system.”

The written procedures included programs for cross connection control, distributing system flushing, hydrant maintenance, valve maintenance and leak detection. Even with the programs, Loris still needed a licensed system operations specialist to legally operate their utility. At the time, neither of the public works employees had the appropriate license.

“I explained the licensing process and helped them complete the application forms,” Miller said.

Miller also contacted a contract operations specialist to could operate the system until the staff could complete their licenses. The system requested continued assistance and Miller made an appointment to return in two weeks before he left.

“I’ll return and continue to offer any assistance to keep the system operating appropriately,” Miller said.