Okatie, SC; April 21, 2021 – Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority (BJWSA) is moving ahead to improve the flow of water to the growing area in and around the Town of Bluffton, BJWSA’s Director of Engineering Rebecca Bowyer, P.E. reported to council at their quarterly workshop last night. A proposed elevated storage tank (EST) will also deliver lower operational costs and a more reliable supply of drinking water, as well as meeting emergency needs and storage requirements as prescribed by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC). Councilwoman Bridgette Frazier and Mayor Lisa Sulka were encouraged that residents would benefit from this project, including better water pressure.

The overall project includes a new 24” water main on the east side of Okatie Highway, and a new 36” water main along Bluffton Parkway to Buckwalter Parkway, where the new 1.5-million-gallon tank will be sited. Construction is expected to begin with the water main in September 2021, with the completion of the tank anticipated for March 2023.  Council members supported the efforts to minimize impacts to local traffic and minimize tree removal during construction.

The Authority has performed a rigorous process to determine a site for the tank, including criteria such as zoning, ground elevation, visibility, hydraulic performance, acquisition and environmental concerns.  Of the four areas evaluated, the area at the intersection of Buckwalter and Bluffton Parkway received the highest ranking.  Councilwoman Frazier was in support of the tank at this location and its ability to “improve quality of life of our residents.”

Additional steps include stakeholder outreach, design and permitting then construction. Potential impacts will involve lane closures along Okatie Highway, Bluffton Parkway, and Buckwalter Parkway and minimal tree clearing and wetlands impacts are anticipated.  Additional investigation is needed to determine a specific tank site location, and follow-up information will be provided to Council members in regards to their questions about the other areas evaluated.  Public meetings will begin in May to solicit community input.