BAMBERG – A Bamberg utility provider on Wednesday celebrated its receipt of $12.7 million in federal funding for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

The Bamberg Board of Public Works received $12.7 million in grant funding from the American Rescue Plan Act. The money was distributed through the S.C. Rural Infrastructure Authority as part of the S.C. Infrastructure Investment Program.

A celebratory event was held at the BPW headquarters on Main Highway.

The money includes an $8.5 million community impact grant for the Hunters Chapel Road, Family Circle water line extension; Bridge Street sewer system upgrades and the modernization of the city’s wastewater treatment facility. The Lower Savannah Council of Governments helped write the grant.

About half of the $8.5 million grant will go toward a county water line, giving about 75 county homes access to a public water source.

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The project area for the water line extension is located outside the southeastern Bamberg city limits and includes Hunters Chapel Road to its intersection with Crosswinds Road, as well as Family Circle Drive.

Bamberg County Councilman Larry Haynes said he started working on the project in 2010, but discussions about the need for water improvements go back two decades.

“We walked from Springfield Boulevard all the way back down to 362, all the way back to town talking to the people,” Haynes said. “People would say, ‘Come in and look at our showers and our showers are black.’”

Residents in the area have complained about smelly brown water that stained their clothing and damaged appliances. Many residents tested their well water and discovered high levels of iron.

“They are very, very appreciative of having this project to come through,” Haynes said. “They will have clean water and they will be able to wash their clothes without coming to town, getting their clothes washed.”

The water lines will be constructed within existing right-of-ways, and changes include upsizing four-inch water lines to six inches. Fire hydrants will be spaced along the length of the area as part of the distribution system.

“We did some preliminary engineering about ten years ago to look at adding water out there, but of course a $5 million project … it was just a hard thing to do without the infrastructure and the money to get there,” BPW Compliance Director Camden Kittrell said.

Construction on the water line project is expected to begin in 2025.

In addition to improving water quality, the new lines will also help increase water pressure to allow for better fire protection, which in turn will mean better home insurance rates for residents.

Bridge Street sewer upgrades

The grant money will also go toward sewer system upgrades on Bridge Street.

Kittrell said the sewer upgrades are the second phase of a project that began five years ago on Pine Street. The project wasn’t completed at that time due to lack of funding.

“We are going to hit that one first and we are going to hit the ground running,” Kittrell said.

The Bridge Street sewer improvements will include new pipes, line extensions and better flow rates to the city’s wastewater plant.

The project will be put out to bid in a couple of months.

Kittrell said the town has to contend with rainwater seeping into the wastewater system. He said the upgrades will hopefully mean a cost savings for wastewater users.

Wastewater treatment plant

Finally, the town’s wastewater treatment facility will be modernized.

“We have some immediate needs at our wastewater facility,” Kittrell said, noting the upgrades to the wastewater facility will ensure it is viable decades into the future.

Kittrell said the modernization of the wastewater treatment plant will entail the placement of a new, 24-inch gravity sewer line; replacing the current manual bar screen with a mechanical bar screen; the replacement of the grit collector; and the expansion of the chlorine contact chamber and effluent flow meter.

The project will be put out for bid by the end of the first quarter in 2024 with completion in 2025.

Kittrell said thanks to the grant, customers will not have to contend with wastewater rate increases to pay for modernizing the system.

BPW and Orangeburg DPU

The other $4.2 million grant will be used to connect the water system with the Orangeburg Department of Public Utilities.

In August of this year, DPU announced it would enter into an agreement with the Bamberg utility with the aim of improving water services for BPW customers.

The agreement will allow a connection between the BPW water system near U.S. Highway 301 and Richard Carroll Elementary School and DPU’s water system near U.S. Highway 301 and Slab Landing Road.

The connection will provide Bamberg with an emergency source of water, according to the agreement.

The project includes tapping into an existing 12-inch water line at Slab Landing Road and then running about 12,440 linear feet of line along U.S. 301 South. The line will go under the South Fork of the Edisto River near Bobcat Landing, then run an additional 9,890 linear feet to connect to a 12-inch water main in front of Richard Carroll Elementary School.

DPU Water Division Director Eric Odom said the two utilities have had many discussions about connecting the water systems over the past couple of decades, with questions about funding at the forefront.

Odom thanked the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority for choosing the project for funding out of many applications submitted.

DPU will be responsible for paying a $375,000 impact fee for the project while BPW will be responsible for about $145,000. BPW will oversee the project.

Engineering work for the project has been completed, with surveying expected to begin in the near future, Odom said.

Construction is targeted to begin the first quarter of 2025, with completion by the second quarter of 2026, Kittrell said.

Odom said DPU’s water system master plan included BPW and serving the city of Bamberg.

“We look forward to partnering with you guys going forward, especially on this project,” Odom said.

Kittrell thanked DPU for introducing the project to Bamberg.

“I think it will make Bamberg viable for a long, long time,” Kittrell said.

BPW General Manager Gregg Griffin said the utility has had a “long-standing and reliable relationship with DPU over the years.”

“The SCIIP grant process has now blessed us with a very, very unique opportunity to draw even closer to our neighbor,” Griffin said. “The success of any community’s business development efforts is reflected in the infrastructure capacity of a local utility and levering its strength with the efforts of both the city and the county.”

Funding praised

Bamberg County Administrator Joey Preston praised the partnerships that made the funding possible.

“We are not rich enough to do it on our own,” Preston said. “We have to have that assistance. We could not build that water line unless we had that assistance.”

BPW Board Commissioner Buzzy Bunch said, “It is a big deal here with the SCIIP grant.” He expressed his thanks to all those who helped make the grant possible.

“This is just a great day in Bamberg to get this grant,” Bamberg Mayor Nancy Foster said. “It is really exciting. I am happy to be a part of it. The Board of Public Works is really Bamberg’s jewel. I’m so happy to have you and what you all do. I don’t know where the city would be with them.”

“This opportunity that we have now with these grants probably will not come back around,” Kittrell said, stressing the importance of taking advantage of the opportunity at the current time.

Kittrell said the town was aggressive in the grant process and did not think it would get the grant money, as there was only a limited amount of funding available.

Kittrell thanked the LSCOG, engineering company Brown and Caldwell, and the SouthernCarolina Alliance for their partnership in making the grants possible.

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5551. Check out Zaleski on Twitter at @ZaleskiTD.

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