With persistent drought and neighboring states threatening the supply of local water sources, the Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority is assessing how it will provide water service over the next 50 years.
The authority began the project about a year ago because the Savannah River basin has been in a drought for 10 years, said general manager Dean Moss. Water levels of three South Carolina reservoirs, intended to replenish depleting supplies, have dropped each year.
Last year, levels in Hartwell, Russell and Thurmond lakes nearly reached bottom, something that hasn't happened since they were built in 1954, Moss said.
Beaufort and Jasper counties depend on the Savannah River as a primary source of drinking water.
So do others.
Savannah, for example, pumps about 70 million gallons a day from the river. The Beaufort-Jasper authority pumps about 39 million gallons a day.
Atlanta also poses a threat. Earlier this month, a federal judge ruled that Georgia was illegally drawing water from a federal reservoir. Georgia faces the dire prospect of losing Atlanta's main water source for 3 million people if political leaders can't reach a solution with Alabama and Florida over rights to the reservoir within three years.
If a deal can't be made or Georgia loses rights to that reservoir, some worry the Peach State will turn to the Savannah River to serve its residents.
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