By Brian Sherman, The Island Eye News Managing Editor
Work is about to get underway on a water line that will run from Toler’s Cove in Mount Pleasant to Middle Street near Sullivan’s Island’s wastewater treatment plant.
The $8.5-million project, the cost of which will be split evenly between Mount Pleasant Waterworks and the Charleston Water System, is scheduled for completion in June 2021, according to MPW General Manager Clay Duffie.
Sullivan’s Island is providing space for the heavy equipment that will be needed to pull the 18-inch pipe under the Intracoastal Waterway. The town already is using part of its soccer field for equipment involved in a $16.3-million renovation of its treatment plant; the remainder of the field will be taken up by the MPW/CWS project.
The Ben Sawyer Intracoastal Waterway Water Main Connection Project, to be completed by Quality Enterprises USA of Naples, Florida, is “a win-win” for everyone concerned, Duffie pointed out. Mount Pleasant currently buys some of its water from the Charleston system.
“When we updated our 30-year contract with Charleston in 2016, we added a third connection so we can get water when our demands are high,” he said. “And if we need to send water to the islands in an emergency situation, that becomes available.”
Sullivan’s Island Water & Sewer Department Manager Greg Gress said the connection might not be able to help the islands in an emergency.
Sullivan’s Island’s water currently comes from the Charleston system, through a 20-inch pipe that runs under the harbor.
“The purpose of the project is to get more water for Mount Pleasant, not to provide a redundant supply for Sullivan’s Island,” Gress said. “The line could be used as a backup. The issue for me is that I haven’t seen the hydraulic modeling that Mount Pleasant can push water back through that line to us. In my opinion, there will be no huge benefit to us.”
Gress said Sullivan’s Island has had an agreement with the Isle of Palms since March 2006 to purchase water in an emergency. He noted that the last time that happened was in 2008, when a water line near Fort Johnson failed. Sullivan’s was supplied by IOP for about a month, he said.
Duffie explained that the equipment necessary to pull the line under the waterway, a horizontal directional drill, requires about an acre-and-aquarter of space. He pointed out that the mile-long piece of pipe will be assembled along Ben Sawyer Boulevard in Mount Pleasant. During that time, the bike and pedestrian path on the road to Sullivan’s Island between Center Street and Toler’s Cove Drive will be closed. He said there might be lane shifts but that at no time will traffic to the island be completely shut down. He noted that some Mount Pleasant water customers might lose service for a short time.
“This work will provide redundancy to Mount Pleasant and also to the Charleston Water System,” Duffie concluded. “It’s a great project.”