Okatie, SC (April 24, 2015) — With a vision for continued environmental and community stewardship, Beaufort-Jasper Water and Sewer Authority celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Chelsea Water Treatment Plant in Okatie May 1.
“Our mission is to inspire trust and enhance public health,” said Ed Saxon, general manager. “It’s as important today as it was then, and we work daily to provide our customers high quality water and wastewater products and services in a manner that protects our pristine water resources.”
The authority has its origins in the search for a reliable source of drinking water for Beaufort County. Before the mid-1950s, the Floridan Aquifer was a plentiful high-quality source of drinking water for all of Beaufort County. But as local farmers converted more land to irrigated agriculture and the military’s presence in northern Beaufort County grew, so did the demands on the Floridan for drinking water. To ensure that the area would have a long term reliable supply of drinking water, the Beaufort County Water Authority was created by the South Carolina Legislature in 1954 to bring treated surface water to local military installations and sea island residents.
Through community and military collaboration, a project was developed to construct a surface water treatment plant near the Broad River in the Chelsea community and bring
Savannah River water 18 miles over land via canal to the plant for treatment. The groundbreaking ceremony for the Chelsea Plant occurred on November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was assassinated, and after 17 months of construction, deliveries began April 24, 1965.
From the plant, the treated water was pumped eight miles under the Chechessee and Broad Rivers to Port Royal, Beaufort and the military installations. BJWSA’s charter was changed several times by the legislature to allow the Authority to provide both water and sewer services to Beaufort and Jasper counties.
Today BJWSA is the regional provider of water and sewer, serving a population of more than 170,000 in the two-county service area, and encompassing more than 1300 square miles. They currently operate two state of the art water plants, eight water reclamation facilities and maintain more than 3600 miles of pipe.
“Our employees remain committed to our mission, and are proud to serve our community,” Saxon adds, “Our best asset is our employees and the BJWSA Team looks forward to many more years of providing safe drinking water and environmentally sound wastewater services to our valued customers.”