ST. GEORGE, S.C. – A senior congressional representative, a federal agency, a local county and others gathered together at a construction site near the Winding Woods Commerce Park on Jan. 26 to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Winding Woods Reach and Elevated Water Tower.
The new water infrastructure project is yet another example of the power of partnerships and what strong relationships can accomplish. Among the several agencies involved include the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, Lake Marion Regional Water Agency, Dorchester County, Santee Cooper, and Congressman James E. Clyburn’s office.
The future water distribution site includes a 500,000-gallon water tank located in the Winding Woods Industrial Park, 7.8-miles of water transmission pipes stretching from Harleyville to St. George, and 28 new fire hydrants along the way. Together, these aspects of the project will serve current and future industries at the Winding Woods Commerce Park, Woodland High School, Dorchester County Courthouse and residents of the greater St. George area.
What exactly is the Winding Woods Commerce Park?
It’s a 624-acre $100 million industrial site located in Dorchester County with access to I-95 and I-26. Phase one of the commerce park is estimated to create more than 450 jobs in the coming years and will have over 3.25 million square feet of industrial space. With a Norfolk Southern Rail line across the street and located less than 50 miles to the Port of Charleston, the site is poised to become an economic catalyst for the area.
Lt. Col. Andrew Johannes, district commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District, spoke about the importance of the project and the federal-state partnerships that helped to make it possible.
“This groundbreaking is yet another example of the immense benefits from federal, state and local governments working side-by-side,” said Johannes. “This strong partnership, which we have maintained for the better part of two decades, continues to strengthen the communities and people we all work so diligently to serve.”
Winding Woods Reach is the seventh project of its kind for the region and is a direct result of the partnership between the Charleston District, Lake Marion Regional Water Authority, associated counties and Santee Cooper. The first project of the partnership began back in 2008 with the Lake Marion Water Treatment plant. Since this initial project, over 50 miles of water transmission lines have been laid over the last fourteen years allowing for growth and prosperity in this rural area.
While this is the seventh project, it will certainly not be the last, as plans are currently underway to extend the state-of-the-art system further into the region once federal and local funds become available in the future.
The cooperation between agencies is clear when you look at the breakdown of work to be done. Federal appropriations allow the Charleston District to fund 75% of the project and Dorchester County picks up the other 25%. Santee Cooper owns and manages the system and helped the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency acquire the property. Charleston District will construct the reach.
Congressman Clyburn, the congressional representative for the area and one of the project's most influential partners, spoke to the project’s lasting and critical impact on the region.
“Today’s groundbreaking for the Winding Woods Reach builds on the tremendous progress the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency has made over the last two decades,” said Clyburn. “It will help ensure that current and future generations continue to benefit from this life-changing project.”
As the speeches concluded, golden shovels were at the ready for the best part: breaking ground. A smile, flash of the camera and digging of a shovel kicked off what would be the start to another in a long line of partnerships helping rural communities.