The Greenville Chamber has called for the consolidation of the county’s wastewater districts since 2017. This week, both the Greenville County Council and Greenville Legislative Delegation will begin debate on the issue.
We’re happy to see the county’s decision-makers embracing this call. When we talk infrastructure, it is easy for the public to focus on roads because we see that infrastructure every day. Our community, our state, and our nation face a crisis in infrastructure that goes way beyond roads, and our wastewater system could be even more important to the long-term development of our region.
Created in a time before we had county governments, our special-purpose sewer districts are a relic. Dozens of these districts cover sewer, fire, streetlights, and more. For our purposes, our advocacy focuses on only sewer and wastewater.
Consolidating our outdated and inefficient wastewater structure is a transformative project that will benefit the county for decades to come when considering economic development, transparency, efficiency, and environmental protection.
- Economic Development: Consolidation is critical to support economic development currently burdened by a plethora of small special purpose districts whose processes are confusing at best and counter-productive at worst.
- Cost: The Chamber is concerned about the cost of basic services for our county that are inflated by overlapping administrative expenses from multiple agencies. Our county’s small businesses and entrepreneurs shoulder a significant property tax burden that can be simplified through consolidation. Some of our small special-purpose districts have higher property taxes than our municipalities.
- Transparency and Accountability: Over the past decade, the Chamber has called for more transparency at the state level, but the lack of efficiency for business and transparency for the taxpayer with our special purpose districts is especially troubling. Our investors frequently tell stories of job creation placed on hold for bureaucratic finger-pointing among unaccountable officials.
- Environmental Protection: The Chamber is concerned about the environmental impact of a potential lack of investment by these districts that impacts the safe collection, transmission, and treatment of wastewater. ReWa holds the discharge permits with the EPA and thus is responsible for the safe handling of wastewater, no matter which special purpose district may be causing a problem.
The Chamber thanks our county’s decision-makers for taking this week’s initial step. We believe it is prudent that we evaluate our wastewater systems to ensure their safe and efficient operation at the least cost to the taxpayers. We urge our leaders to act in a deliberate fashion on this issue – something that we believe will have an immeasurable positive impact on the economic health of our community. The Chamber is working with both ReWa and MetroConnects on this issue with a keen eye towards making Greenville’s basic sewer systems more efficient, accountable, and environmentally responsible.