Water Worries Evaporate, Giving Winding Woods Another Selling Point

Post and Courier  | February 23, 2020

Dorchester County is betting on a new water line to help attract industry to a rural industrial park that’s attracted little development to date.

The Army Corps of Engineers set aside $5.12 million in this year’s budget to build a 7.7-mile water transmission line linking the Winding Woods Commerce Park in St. George to service from the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency, which pulls water from Lake Marion. The agency is operated by Moncks Corner-based utility Santee Cooper.

While news of the project is recent, John Truluck, Dorchester County’s economic development director, said it’s been more than a decade in the making.

“The western part of the county historically has suffered from not having the infrastructure to support development,” Truluck said. “So about 12 years ago, the county did a study about getting water to that part of the county. The Lake Marion Regional Water Agency was the answer.”

Engineering and right-of-way acquisition has already started and Truluck said it will take 12 to 18 months to construct the water line. The line, originating in Harleyville, will tie into a 500,000-gallon water tank under construction at the 1,300-acre Winding Woods.

With electricity and wastewater already in place, Truluck said water “is the last big piece we’ve been working toward.”

A nearby natural gas line will also be extended to Winding Woods.

The park’s only construction to date is a 100,000-square-foot speculative warehouse the county built in 2017.

“It’s getting some traffic, but nothing close to being a done deal,” Truluck said of the building.

Marketing the property will be easier when the water line is in place, he said.

“We won’t have to make that case any more that we’ll eventually get it, we can say it’s there,” Truluck said. “When a water line is several miles away, it’s a little harder to convince people.”

The county last year announced that DHL Supply Chain, a division of the German shipping giant, will build a $100 million distribution and warehousing center at Winding Woods. The company is a third-party logistics provider that leases space and manages warehouse operations for other companies. Groundbreaking for the first phase of that project is expected during the first half of this year.

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn said the water line is part of his ongoing efforts to expand the Lake Marion water agency’s reach in the state’s 6th District, which he represents.

“After years of laying the groundwork, today we are beginning to realize the promise of this regional water agency,” Clyburn, a Democrat, said.

The water line “will help attract commercial development to the upper part of Dorchester County, which already enjoys access to highways, railway and the Charleston port, but lacks sufficient water infrastructure,” he said.

The extension to Winding Woods follows a water line reach to serve the Volvo Cars manufacturing campus off Interstate 26 in Berkeley County and the Ridgeville Industrial Campus in Dorchester County.