Washington water system in “pretty good shape”

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022

By KAREN THIEL / For the Washington Daily News

City leaders approved an updated report from the architecture firm that has worked with Beaufort County’s towns and cities for several decades, this time to predict and prepare for improvements that might be needed to maintain or potentially rehabilitate portions of the town’s wastewater collection system.

According to the two engineers who presented that information, the City of Washington is not in any immediate danger, and now has a more complete picture of the condition of its water system functions, attributes, and future needs.

“This is a big thing for analysis purposes regarding the town’s hydrants, specifically their ‘fire flow studies’ because those influence the town’s insurance rates as well as its firefighting efforts,” said Stephen M. Reece, a design engineer with the Greenville-based firm of Rivers and Associates.

Reece presented most of the report during this week’s meeting of the Washington City Council, aided by design engineer Kevin Cooper, who explained several infrastructure projects, which would “help the water system maintain functionality and continue providing service to the city.” Reece said the hydraulic analysis presented by Cooper will help city leaders provide the required demand to customers, as well as evaluate future needs.

System assets reviewed in the report included Washington’s regional water treatment plant, eight groundwater wells, three elevated and two ground storage tanks, and approximately 709 fire hydrants, 1,767 in-line valves, and 132.7 miles of water lines.

The report comes at no cost to the town, paid for by a $150,000 grant awarded in 2020 by the State Water Infrastructure. According to Reece, the completion of this process gives Washington leaders newly elevated placement within the statewide “scoring system” that evaluates the readiness and commitment of a city or town government to receive funding for future project proposals.

“This basically means that Washington’s leaders are taking good care of this town,” Reece said, explaining that the purpose of the actual report is to “work out what Washington has and what condition it’s all in. That information will feed the council’s decisions.” Reece called the report a “living document because it references what projects the town will need in the future, something they will discuss, reference, and sort out themselves.”

Town leaders expressed their approval of the presentation with a unanimous vote of acceptance during the meeting. Council member Mike Renn called the study a “great foundation document that allows us to have a really nice, comprehensive view of the system. This gives us a tool for monitoring over time and reacting more effectively when problems arrive. It looks like things are in pretty good shape,” he said.