The Laurens County Water & Sewer Commission has about 30 customers who have made special arrangements to get caught up on their bills, after cutoffs resumed. A Governor’s Executive Order banned cut-offs for non-payment early in the Coronavirus-COVID-19 crisis.
That order has expired. As a result, the commission has made arrangements with these customers who have made contact about their outstanding bills. For the others, water service was cut off; some accounts are for people who moved away still owing money, the commission’s board was told at its Tuesday morning meeting.
Commission Executive Director Jeff Field said the LCWSC building lobby will not be re-opened “in the foreseeable future.” No employee has tested positive for COVID-19, he said; there have been some exposures through employees’ families.
Those workers who are out in the field work out of a separate building. They have been told not to come into the main building unless it is absolutely necessary. Main building employees have alternated between working from home and coming in to work offices and the drive-through.
Field said it would take several weeks of low new-case numbers in Laurens County before the lobby would be re-opened.
All board members and staff, and a media representative, attending the Tuesday meeting wore masks in the LCWSC training room.
There were about 300 delinquent accounts in the 15,000 accounts managed by LCWSC - mostly water and a small number of sewer customers. LCWSC also manages water service and billing for the Town of Gray Court. It buys water from Laurens CPW, the City of Clinton and the Greenville Water System.
“Our drive-through works well,” Field said. “(To open the lobby) it would take a good trend downward for several weeks in a row. Our folks have done an exceptional job managing all this.”
LCWSC placed a note in customers’ bills in June warning that the non-cut-offs executive order was about to expire, and cut-offs for non-payment would resume in July. “We decided to stick with that,” Field said, “pending an executive order (extending the ban on cut-offs, which was not done).”
LCWSC has a Coins That Care program, that rounds up participating customers’ bills to the nearest dollar, that benefits the Baptist Crisis Center. Any customer having trouble paying a monthly water bill is referred there and to United Ministries in Clinton.