The Oconee Joint Regional Sewer Authority
In the late 1960s, Oconee County stakeholders identified the need to study the necessity and scope of a county-wide sewage collection and treatment system in order to improve the water quality in the county by eliminating the sewer lagoons operated by Walhalla and Westminster as well as Seneca’s treatment plant. Act 950 was signed into law in October 1971 that created the Oconee County Sewer Commission, which was the forerunner of what would become the Oconee Joint Regional Sewer Authority (OJRSA). With 60% approval, the voters of Oconee County passed a resolution to approve the acquisition, construction, maintenance, and operation of a sewage waste disposal system, as they understood the endeavor would benefit the community as well as enhance economic development opportunities.
Originally a division of county government, the OJRSA became its own entity on December 19, 2007, when the South Carolina Secretary of State issued the Certificate of Incorporation to the OJRSA, which was made possible by the passage of Act 59 (Joint Authority Water and Sewer Systems Act) earlier that year. The governmental agency is overseen by nine commissioners appointed by the councils of the three Member Cities—Seneca, Walhalla, and Westminster—with Seneca having four representatives and Walhalla and Westminster with two each; Walhalla and Westminster also “share” one commissioner that represents the interests of both cities.
The 5.0 million gallon per day (MGD) Coneross Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility began operations on February 4, 1980. The original treatment plant was upgraded to 7.8 MGD in 1996 in order to accommodate the industrial and commercial growth Oconee County experienced during the early 1990s. Along with the treatment plant, the OJRSA also owns, operates, and maintains a wastewater conveyance system that includes approximately 60 miles of gravity sewer, 18 pump stations, 20 miles of force mains, and three permanent flow monitoring stations.