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News & Press: Awards

ReWa Recognized as WEF Water Hero

Tuesday, July 25, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Heather Beard
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Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) is a regional special purpose district utility charged with providing wastewater conveyance and water resources recovery to a multi-county area in upstate South Carolina.  In November, 2016, ReWa received a seemingly odd mutual aid request from the Greenville County Office of Emergency Management (GCEOM) to respond to the Pinnacle Mountain Fire, which ultimately consumed over 10,000 acres of mountain forestland.  Wildland firefighting is not one of ReWa’s legislated responsibilities.  However, the utility has two large sewer cleaner trucks that are constructed similar to rough-country heavy duty brush fire trucks.  These trucks are equipped with 1,500-gallon water tanks, high pressure pumps, hose reel, water drafting capability, all-wheel drive, winches, and heavy brush guard cages.  The GCEOM was aware of these resources because of an interagency relationship that ReWa had previously established.


ReWa’s staff members are not trained in wildland firefighting.  Nonetheless, recognizing that this fire was consuming a pristine area, including the Greenville Watershed, Table Rock State Park, and the Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, five members of ReWa’s staff volunteered to respond on what would become a multi-day assignment.  This assignment spanned the Thanksgiving holidays and meant missing holiday time with family, yet these staff members stepped forward to provide an emergency service that was not within their scope of responsibility.  Even though this fire was outside of ReWa’s service area, ReWa as an organization was willing to put portions of its core business programs on hold and risk damage to its equipment in order to help stop the spread of this fire.


Only a month earlier, Hurricane Matthew had made landfall on the coast of South Carolina.  ReWa responded under the SCWARN program with 18 staff, four generators, four pumps, one hose trailer, two fuel trucks, a fleet maintenance truck, and seven service trucks.  These ReWa crews provided assistance to Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority, Fripp Island PSD, Hilton Head PSD, and South Island PSD for a period of one week.  In a true spirit of public service, the ReWa crews responded on short notice, worked long hours under adverse conditions, and sacrificed time away from their families to help restore both water and sewer services to the customers of other utilities over four hours away.  As a critical infrastructure provider, ReWa has the legal authority to order employees to emergency duty at any time.  However, not one single order was required; all 18 employees on this mission volunteered to accept the assignment.


Both as an organization and through its staff, ReWa has displayed a willingness in multiple incidents to clearly go beyond the call of duty to serve and protect the public.

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