To serve you better, we've assembled a list of our customers' most frequently asked questions. If you don't find your answer here, feel free to contact us.
What is included when I pay for new water tap?
Residential taps typically include a 5/8” x ¾” meter, a backflow prevention check valve, a cut-off valve to be used by the water company only, a pressure regulator, and a customer cut-off valve. The pressure regulator and customer cut-off valve are on the customer side of the meter and are warranted for one year from installation. The customer cut-off valve is for customer use in case of emergency and is typically a quarter-turn ball valve. The customer cut-off valve and the pressure regulator are located in either in two separate round turf boxes on the customer side of the meter near the meter box or a single rectangular box located on the customer side of the meter. It is the customer’s responsibility to run the service line from the CCRWC installed cut-off valve to the residence. Maintenance of the service line is the responsibility of the customer.
How long does it take from the time I pay for my tap until it is installed?
Typically residential (5/8” x ¾”) taps are installed within ten (10) working days from the date that the tap is paid for. CCRWC must submit an SC811 locate ticket before any digging can commence. The various utilities have 72 hours (3 business days) to locate and mark their assets in the excavation area. Obviously, inclement weather and other factors beyond our control can impact this time. If you are completely out of water and need a tap on an emergency basis, please let us know when you submit your application and we will do what we can to expedite the installation.
How is my water meter read?
Chesterfield County Rural Water Company uses a fixed based meter reading system known as FlexNet. A number of antennas are strategically located throughout the county that automatically collect meter readings and relay them to the central database at our office. The water meters report hourly readings to the main office every six hours.
What is the most common cause of high water bills?
Far and away, the most common cause of high water usage is leaking toilet valves. Even very small toilet valve leaks can use over 6,000 gallons of water per month.
Toilet leaks can be hard to detect. They are normally caused by a problem by one or more of the following issues: a bad flapper valve, a bad flapper seat, a faulty ballcock valve, a bad float arm or overflow tube. To help determine of you have a leaking toilet, you can put a couple of drops of food coloring in the commode tank (upper part of the commode where the valves are located), wait ten to fifteen minutes, and if the food coloring appears in the bowl down below, you have a toilet leak.
Faucet leaks are much easier to detect. If a faucet drips or continues to keep running after it’s shut off, it needs to be fixed. If the dripping or running water is hot, you’re not only losing water but paying to heat it as well!
Water dripping from the shower head when the shower is off, or running out of the spout when the shower is on, is usually caused by bad washers or seats which need replacing.
How do I know if I have a leak?
The fixed based meter reading system is designed to detect leaks and unusual usage. CCRWC uses a customer interface system called AquaHawk to help our customers monitor usage, leaks, and detect unusual usage. This resource is available to all of our customers at no cost at https://ccrwc.aquahawk.us/login.
You can define the parameters you’d like to be notified about and also how you’d like to be notified – text, email, or phone call. You can also check your account balance, daily, weekly, monthly, and annual water usage along with a number of useful features. Our office staff will be glad to assist you in setting this up if you need assistance.
Why do I have a previous balance when I know I sent in my payment?
We may have received your last payment after the due date or we may not have received it at all. Call our office and we will help you solve the problem.
Can I pay my water bill and monitor my account from a mobile device?
You can monitor your account and make payments with Apple and Android mobile devices through CCRWC apps. Just look up "CCRWC" in the iTunes or Android store for a free download.
On my bill, I see a Monthly Access Fee
The Access Fee is an amount specified by our creditors to cover the long-term debt on the water system. It has been on the monthly bills since 1998.
Does the water company give a discount for filling a swimming pool?
CCRWC does not offer any discounts for water used to fill a swimming pool.
Why don't I have a fire hydrant near my house?
SCDHEC regulations require three (3) primary criteria for the installation of fire hydrants: 1) a water line of at least six (6) inches in diameter, 2) continuous flow of at least 500 gallons per minute, and at least twenty (20) PSI of residual pressure. A significant number of water lines on most rural water systems are unable to meet these criteria due to low water usage and cost. CCRWC has hundreds of hydrants installed throughout the county in areas that meet the criteria. These mandatory criteria are taken into account in the planning of new projects, and when feasible, hydrants are installed.
Sometimes I see a pink or gray substance in my toilet. What is it?
It is common to see a pinkish or light gray color substance forming around a drain, the waterline of a toilet bowl, inside a washing machine or on a shower head. Because the substance is observed near a water outlet, many people conclude it originates from the water itself. This is not the case.
The substance is a biofilm which is comprised of microorganisms and bacteria that thrive in moist environments and are transported through the air. The availability of food sources such as phosphates from soaps, allow the biofilm to grow.
The most effective means to prevent it from constantly recurring is to wash the area frequently and disinfect the surface using household bleach. In addition, it is best to keep surfaces as dry as possible to preclude future growth.
Why are rural water rates higher than some others?
Rural Water System Rates
Many rural water systems such as CCRWC are private, not-for-profit water utilities and as such, are not eligible to use tax money or issue bonds. Our source of revenue is solely from water sales and water related services. Some others are Special Purpose Districts (SPD’s) or formal governmental entities and abide by the same rules as non-profits but can issue bonds and they also have their governing boards appointed by the local delegation rather than voted on by the membership (like a non-profit).
Municipalities are governmental entities and are therefore eligible to collect and use tax money for operation expenses. Therefore administrative duties, management, and indirect costs can effectively be spread over a number of other cost centers rather than just water and sewer revenues. A town is also eligible to issue bonds to cover capital expenditures such as upgrades or expansions.
By Ordinance, towns require all residents to use municipal water and wastewater services versus using a private well or septic tank. This evenly distributes O&M and debt costs among the entire municipal population and guarantees consistent revenues. Conversely, rural water systems, by law, cannot require this. Members are on the rural water system by choice and not by mandate. Members are free to come and go as they choose although our infrastructure fixed costs remain constant.
Municipal water systems are typically much smaller in area than rural systems – often by a factor of ten or more. In addition, there population density per mile of waterline is much greater – often by a factor of one hundred!
As an example of the differences in a town system and a rural system, a local town’s service area is approximately 4.6 square miles. They have about twenty (20) miles of water lines. Their population density is 1,254 people per square mile. Their number of taps per linear mile of water line is approximately 400. CCRWC’s rural water system’s service area is slightly over 800 square miles and has over one-thousand (1,000) miles of water lines. The population density is approximately 46 people per square mile with number of taps per linear mile of water line at 11.
Municipalities typically have only one source of water. They have their own processing plant. They pump water one time from the plant to elevated tanks over a short distance.
Rural water systems often have numerous elevated tanks and multiple pump stations to maintain system pressure. Tanks and pump stations are expensive to build and maintain.
CCRWC has four separate possible sources of water. Unfortunately, we must buy all of our water. Producing our own water is not an option. We have nine (9) elevated tanks (not counting the two in Chesterfield). We pump our water from the McBee area to Pageland and from McBee to Chesterfield through five (5) pump stations. There is 600-700 feet of elevation difference from Wolfpond in the northern end of our system to Society Hill in the southern end of our system. Pumping water is expensive and utility rates continue to increase annually. It is nearly 55 miles from one end of our system to the other end. The O&M costs on pump stations and elevated tanks are substantial.
Because we have redundant sources of water and diesel generator back-ups throughout our system, water outages are almost non-existent. Our availability rate exceeds 99.8%. Before 1999, we had no diesel back-ups and virtually no redundancy in our system. When we have power outages due to ice or hurricane, the county still has water. That wasn’t always the case.
Our water system is automated and programmed to run as efficiently as possible and still meet peak demands. We gravity feed water when possible and pump only during times of high demand.
The primary contributor to our high rate structure is our debt. Prior to the CCRWC management change in 1999, we bought all of our water from Lancaster County, the Town of Pageland, and the Town of Chesterfield. At that time, CCRWC, along with at least two other towns in Chesterfield County all shared the dubious distinction of being on the EPA’s Federal Watch List of systems with the worst water quality in the nation due to excessive levels of THM’s and HAA’s. All three systems were under numerous SCDHEC Consent orders for poor water quality and not meeting the Safe Drinking Water Act federal requirements. The CCRWC Board of Directors approved an ambitious expansion plan to allow us to expand the system and procure water from Alligator Rural Water in McBee. It was a good thing they did, because in 2002 and 2003, both the Town of Pageland and the Town of Chesterfield literally were at the point of running out of water due to drought and had to buy water from CCRWC. Once our project was completed, both towns agreed to buy water from us and shut down their water plants due to recurring water quality and capacity concerns. In essence, had we not done this expansion, the majority of the county would have been without water – literally. We incurred approximately $12 million dollars in new debt to install this expansion. This does not include the previously existing debt. Our debt drives our rates.
Our debtors, USDA-Office of Rural Development and CoBank, determine our minimum rate structure based on our ability to meet the terms of our loans. We are at the minimum rate they allow.
This does not mean we are satisfied. We are constantly looking for ways to save money and increase revenues other than by water sales. In 2014, we refinanced our debt by moving the vast majority of it from Rural Development to CoBank. This move took our outstanding debt from 40-year term loans to a consolidated 20-year loan and will ultimately save the company nearly $6.0 million. In so doing, we are also positioning ourselves financially to begin a structured total replacement of the water system as the original system approaches 50 years of age at the time of maturation of the long-term note.
The board members of CCRWC make decisions for the long run and not for the short term. We are regarded by SCDHEC as one of the highest performing water systems in South Carolina. We have received the highest SCDHEC Annual Sanitary rating obtainable for the past 17 consecutive years. Yes, we are more expensive than some other towns and systems in SC, but hopefully the above provides the basis as to why that is. We value our members and our reputation. We are here to provide uninterrupted, quality service to Chesterfield County and we take this responsibility seriously.