Imagine for a moment a day without water. A day without one of the most important resources, a day without washing your hands, a day without firefighters being able to fight fires, a day without BMW being able to make SUVs. This list of things we could not do would be longer than this Letter to the Editor. On October 21st, utility companies, aquariums, schools, and engineers will pause to consider how different life would be without water.
In the middle of a public health crisis, water has been one of the most valuable resources in stopping the spread of the Coronavirus. Signs everywhere tell people to wash their hands frequently and for at least 20 seconds. While some employees quarantined at home and businesses closed, Greer CPW’s staff of nearly 20 water and wastewater pros never skipped a beat. Each day, water treatment plant workers churned out close to 10 million gallons of water to 20,850 customers in Greer and the Blue Ridge Rural Water Company. If anything, the Coronavirus pandemic further demonstrated the critical role utilities play in communities and the need to protect water sources.
Each year, Greer CPW identifies old or outdated water and sewer lines for replacement. Replacing pipes not only ensures solid utilities but it allows us to isolate lines when needed, plan for future growth and upgrade pipes with newer technology. The CenterG streetscape project in Downtown Greer is a perfect example. 100- year-old terracotta clay pipes have now been replaced with a pipe inside a pipe or “cured in place” piping. Most recently we replaced sewer lines on Cannon Street and have upgraded our lines on Jason, North Main and Arlington Streets to ensure the incoming hotel, parking garage, apartments and brewery will have sound utilities.
These investments are good and well but we need the community’s help to take care of the pipes. As cleaning wipes flew off the shelves in March, they also flew into our wastewater treatment plant. We have seen a rise in masks, cleaning wipes and rags make their way through our hundreds of miles of pipe and into our system. Greer CPW’s equipment is not designed to handle solid products like these. Not only is this costly for us but it is time consuming to clean. By putting these items in the trash and not in the toilet, consumers help keep our treatment costs down and that means your rates stay low as well. The more we all invest in water and wastewater infrastructure, the more we invest in a future that no one has to imagine a day without water.