Frequently Asked Questions
ReWa or Renewable Water Resources is the non-profit entity responsible for providing wastewater treatment and collection services to the Upstate of South Carolina. ReWa was created as a special purpose district by the State of South Carolina to provide these services to the Upstate and to serve as a steward to our local environment, as well as to ensure clean water for communities downstream from us. ReWa works closely with the area’s 18 sewer subdistricts, to create sustainable solutions for smart growth.
With nine water resource recovery facilities (WRRF) and more than 350 miles of pipe, we serve a broad geographic area, including Greenville County and portions of Anderson, Laurens, Pickens, and Spartanburg Counties up to the North Carolina border.
While ReWa works closely with drinking water agencies, we provide separate services, which are broken down and accounted for on the bills that come from each of these water companies. Most simply put, water companies provide the water that comes out of your tap to drink and use each day, whereas ReWa is where wastewater comes to be treated.
ReWa works closely with our 18 local subdistricts. Subdistricts provide wastewater collection services where ReWa provides both collection and treatment services. Ultimately, when you flush your toilet or pour water down your drain, it flows through the sewer lines in your home, out (usually to the road) where it connects to one of 18 local subdistricts. Then, the flow makes its way through the local subdistrict’s line, eventually connecting to a ReWa line. Once it is in ReWa’s line, it is transported to one of our nine water resource recovery facilities (WRRF) for treatment. Once it is treated, it is released back into the local waterway.
It is important to note that while ReWa was created by the State of South Carolina, it receives no funding from the state. Also, unlike many water utilities and subdistricts, ReWa does not receive funds from local or state taxes. All expenditures are funded through a combination of user fees, state revolving loans and revenue debt issues. As a non-profit entity, we funnel our revenue back into the community by maintaining infrastructure, investing in new lines and equipment as needed, and developing innovative new solutions like solar and our biosolids program to increase our area’s overall sustainability and reduce its carbon footprint.
On the contrary, our rates are comparable to those of other similar localities across the country. It is important to note that ensuring that our water is clean and presents no hazard to the community or the environment is a costly endeavor. It is also important to note that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) imposes more stringent requirements in some areas than others. Because our three rivers – the Enoree, Saluda and Reedy – are smaller rivers with less flow, most of the water in them downstream comes from ReWa effluent. With less natural flow to dilute any possible contaminants, these rivers and what can be released into them are more highly regulated by the EPA. This results in the need for additional and often more costly treatment procedures. We have invested and must continue to invest in state-of-the art treatment facilities and processes, including advanced filtration, UV treatment, etc. to keep pace with these regulations. Our fees are an investment in clean water.
Our rates are higher than those of the local water companies for two key reasons: 1) We are lucky in our area to have a pristine watershed. While the water utilities transport water and treat it minimally, we must extensively treat AND transport wastewater. It is much easier and costs less to treat pristine water from our protected watershed than it is to treat what we flush down our toilets and pour down drains. 2) Many water utilities and subdistricts are subsidized through taxpayer dollars, while ReWa receives no tax payer money.
ReWa works closely with all of the local governments and subdistricts, as well as with local economic development agencies, private developers and the business community to ensure smart and sustainable growth, driving progress and prosperity for our region. We also work closely with state agencies, such as the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and national agencies, such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Water Environment Federation, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, American Waterworks Association and more.
ReWa operates through intergovernmental agreements with each of the 18 subdistricts. ReWa has no direct control over the subdistricts or their collection lines. The subdistricts are responsible for maintenance and control their own rates. ReWa is held to certain permit restrictions by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), as it is our effluent that is dispersed back into our waterways. In an effort to ensure that there are no violations, ReWa works with local subdistricts to safeguard the overall performance of the sewer infrastructure to sustain the quality of life in our community.
Because the local water utilities have the ability to read meters and determine usage, they send bills for both water and wastewater and reimburse ReWa accordingly. Although we realize this can be confusing to users, the water districts and ReWa find this arrangement to be the simplest and most efficient solution, providing convenience to users and streamlining the process for us.
ReWa, the local cities and counties, the Greenville Area Development Corporation (GADC), Upstate Alliance and various local and state governmental groups, along with local chambers of commerce, work closely to constantly evaluate challenges, needs and opportunities facing our area. We have developed comprehensive plans for projected growth throughout the Upstate, working 10-20 years out in most cases, to create an atmosphere of progress and prosperity. We are excited to announce that the Upstate Roundtable, a community collaboration which had previously established a 20-year vision for the future of Greenville, has recently reconvened to continue to pave a path to ensure proactive planning and a high quality of life here in our area.
Internally, ReWa recently developed our own internal strategic plan, which outlines goals and metrics for the next five years. ReWa also has a schedule in place for routine maintenance, as well as a comprehensive plan for expansion of our lines to accommodate additional capacity needs over time. In fact, each line has its own maximum gallon-per-day limit which we constantly measure. Any main line approaching roughly two-thirds of its capacity triggers a closer look, study and possibly an upgrade. We begin this process by hiring an outside firm to conduct a formal analysis and any anticipated change in capital funding needs is figured into rate studies. As with other development, these changes are generally planned years in advance and require South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) approval.
It’s important to note that what many may see as “new” sewer lines are not an expansion, but rather a planned repair or replacement of existing lines to ensure they remain in good working order.
In areas where an expansion happens, lines are added based on collaboration, careful planning and community needs. We invest based on future and current growth demands and careful planning done years in advance in partnership with all relevant state and local agencies to ensure smart and sustainable growth.
Four big challenges that ReWa faces:
- The aging wastewater pipes that ReWa and the subdistricts own and the related need for more frequent maintenance/repair/replacement.
- Sustainably managing the rapid growth and resulting need for additional capacity in our area with finite resources and budget.
- The more stringent environmental requirements and related higher treatment costs faced by our area because of the limited natural flow of the Reedy, Enoree and Saluda rivers.
- Increasing community awareness of ReWa’s role in shaping and impacting quality of life in our area through innovative sustainable solutions in wastewater treatment and management practices.
We have technologically advanced filtration and cleaning systems in place and employ advanced technology and redundant processes to ensure that the water that leaves our facilities is safe and clean for our own use and for release into our rivers and streams. Drinking water is not affected by wastewater treatment processes or conveyance.
Despite our extensive efforts, we have occasionally experienced sanitary sewer overflows (usually from heavy rains) that have resulted in overflow from sewers going directly into rivers and streams. We monitor this closely with sampling and testing and notify downstream uptakes. These issues are typically seasonal and do not affect the potability of water.
Hauled waste is accepted from SCDHEC licensed haulers who operate within the local service area of ReWa. The hauler must apply for and receive a permit from ReWa before he or she can dispose of their hauled waste. There are Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for using the ReWa hauled waste disposal site which includes: times of acceptance, locations for the disposal of grease versus septage, properly filling out disposal forms and sample collection of each load received. SOPs are communicated verbally during the permitting process and written procedures are posted at the hauled waste receiving office. Further details concerning the hauled waste program including fees and billing can be located in the ReWa Sewer Use Regulation attachment A at Sewer Use Regulation.
At ReWa, we recognize that community is fostered through involvement, and we are committed to giving back. In addition to our dedication to treating wastewater, we integrate the community into our efforts in a multitude of ways: through recognizing environmentally-conscious companies, updating the community on ReWa projects and capital improvements, partnering with Greenville County Parks and Recreation to create community facilities, and giving back to our community by hosting educational events and supporting local charities. We are involved in many local organizations that offer educational, environmental, recreational and development opportunities for community members.
Our company and its employees also support many community programs, organizations and events, including but not limited to: Conestee Foundation, local Chambers of Commerce, student mentoring, apprenticeship and internship programs at area schools and local universities, and downtown recycle bins through Metropolitan Arts Council.
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