Andrews Water System
Andrews, South Carolina 29510
Comments & History to 1954
by:  S. Paul Harper

Comments on the Water Situation in the Town of Andrews, 1954 

Sometime ago I heard, from general conversation, that the Town of Andrews had under consideration the possibility of abandoning Black River as a source of supply for water in the town, and substitute therefore a deep well system of deep wells.

Since I was thoroughly familiar with the investigations originally made looking to a water supply here, and participated in the final decision which developed the water and sewage system as it was presently installed and has since been operated, I was both surprised and alarmed at the nature of the rumors then current in the town.

In an effort to discover the truth of the rumors, I talked first with Mr. Gross, then with Bennett Ransom, and later with Mr. W. H. Smith, from all of who I learned that the latter had progressed to the stage where a contract had been actually let for the digging of a deep well and that it was expected that the well could be in service by December 1st, next.

I was told at that time that a copy of the contract was not available to be seen, and then queried the Town's attorney, Mr. James B. Moore, about its content.  To my further surprise, Mr. Moore advised me that he knew nothing about any such contract, and had not been consulted on the matter.  I then addressed a letter to Mr. Smith, who, I was informed, was the chairman of the committee of the council having to do with water and sewage, and appended a memorandum thereto, outlining the history of the original water investigations, and giving in detail my objections to the deep well project.

I requested Mr. Smith to read this communication to the council at his first convenience.  I presume that that has been done, but I am including many of the essential facts in the statement following.

History of the Water Supply in Andrews 

In 1918, Dr. D. S. Porter, then Mayor of Andrews, requested me to prepare a tentative of a distribution system for the town, and recommend some form of sewage disposal that might be satisfactory.  At that time practically the entire developed area of the town lay within the boundaries of the Rosemary Land Assn., together with area east of the A.C.L. Shops and the plant of the Overton Mfg. Co., then a very young industry.

I prepared such a plan as was requested, and made up a cost estimate to cover the whole project, which Dr. Porter submitted to his council, obtained their approval in principle, and directed that further research be undertaken, particularly towards a supply of raw water.  At that time there was an artesian well on the street corner now occupied by the filling station being operated by Mr. Maring.  This well was of small diameter, and was about 600 ft. deep, and has been bored by the town primarily as a source of drinking water for teams coming to the Town.  The water was highly mineralized, and very hard, it being an unsatisfactory water for laundering and general household purposes.  This well was eventually sealed off.

The comparative qualities of Black River water were studied, and the advice of the State Board of Health was sought, as a result of which, it was decided to use Black River as a source of supply.  A factor in this decision was that the Seaboard and the Overton Mfg. Co., both prospective users of considerable quantity, agreed to take their supplies from the town if Black River was chosen as the supply.

The State Board of Health also urged the town to use the river instead of deep well supply because of the high mineral content of the groundwater.  The final decision having been made as to the source of the supply, the Council, at my suggestion, borrowed Mr. Tomlinson, water works engineer for the city of Columbia, to go over the tentative plans that I had previously prepared, and made specific recommendation for the installation of the system.  The distribution system as outlined in my plans was accepted with minor changes.

Mr. Tomlinson, however, recommended that flush tanks be installed at strategic locations and that instead of these septic disposal system, (the same system now operating in Kingstree) that an Imhoff tank be installed.  These recommendations were agreed by me in the light of the fact that Mr. Tomlinson was a man of much greater experience in City engineering than I was, and they were incorporated in the final contracts.

The Commissioners of Public Works were elected in 1919, consisting of W. H. Andrews, James L. Grant, and myself.  This commission was in general charge of the construction work until it was completed in 1922, and they operated the system until 1935, at which time the system was turned over to the town, after which, the Council was responsible for the operation.

Operation of the System 

In 1931, shortly after Mr. Clifford T. Bell was elected Mayor, he requested me to check over the system, and ascertain, if possible, wherein lay the inefficiency of the system, since it had come to pass that the pumps were being required to operate almost continuously in order to keep the stand pipe full of water.  The first thing that I found was a leak in the raw water basins from which there was a continuous stream of water, about three inches in size, steadily flowing into the railroad ditch.  The raw water basin was emptied, and a crack in its base was discovered from which this water was leaking.  This crack was chiseled out by me, and caulked with bagging and raw asphalt, which stopped the leak, and to my knowledge, has not re-opened.

I, also, found that not a single one of the seven flush tanks were operating.  These tanks are of 550 gallon capacity, and are so regulated that would fill and automatically flush at twelve hour intervals.  Each of these flush tanks were repaired with new valves and other replaced deteriorated parts.  Many leaks were discovered at other points, and then a 30 day test was put on to compare the volume of water pumped from the river with the volume metered for domestic use.

The comparison being very favorable, the system was again declared to be in excellent operating condition.  I have had no further commitments from the town since that date.

Material and Equipment Used in Original Installation 

Although it was known to the Commissioners at the time that cast iron pipe, if installed throughout the distribution system would have a probably life value of at least a hundred years, in comparison with wrought iron pipe, whose life expectancy was about 25 years, because of the necessity to make the most economical installation at the time, most of the pipe used was purchased from the Federal Govt. at Fort Jackson.  The estimate of the systems life was then presumed to expire in 1947.  A cost price for water for all categories was set up in 1922 which had in mind liquidating the water system by 1947, so that replacements could be made as necessary from reserve funds.  As it happened, this goal was never reached, and the pipe lines began to go to pieces without sufficient funds in readiness to replace them.

Operating Difficulties Experienced 

It was a sad commentary on human nature that everybody's business and it appears to me, as a citizen, that our water and sewer system has felt the full force of this axiom.  First, the Commissioners installed an Alum disseminator, the purpose of which was to correct the color of the water.  For a considerable time, our drinking water was perfectly white, and sparkled like spring water.  We were advised by chemist that the Alum did not add anything to the value of the water except looks, and that we could dispense with the treatment and save that much money.  This the Commissioners did.  Some time after this was done, and after operation was taken over the by town, the chlorinating device went bad, and was not adequately repaired until complaints were heard by the State Board of Health, and the body gave certain directions.

When the system was installed, it was specified that the filter beds should be flushed out at frequent intervals, and that the entire filter plant be discarded and freshly installed at intervals of not more than five years.  I was present when the filter was examined in 1948, and it has the appearance to me that then was the first time it has been treated since at least 1931.  It was in foul shape.

Some time later it became generally known that the main sewer pipe disposal line had broken where it crossed the railroad track, and that raw sludge was bypassing the Imhoff Tank, and flowing from the railroad ditch to the canal that was supposed to carry the outfall water.  I have no idea how long this situation was allowed to exist, but it was more than a year after my first knowledge of it that it was fully repaired.

There are no chemicals in Black River water that will cause pipe lines to corrode.  This was demonstrated by the boilers in the old Seaboard Steam Engine that operated for 22 years without a single replacement.  However, unfiltered water from that source passing through small tubes, such as 1/2 inch and 5/8 inch pipe will deposit suspended material, and eventually clog the pipes beyond efficient capacity.  It was necessary for me to take out all of the pipes in my own home two years ago and replace them with new pipes.  I even had to replace the pipe leading from the curb to line passing from the street.  To me, who has some small knowledge of the behavior of flowing water, this is indisputable evidence that raw Black River water has been passing through the system for a long time.

There were other happenings known to me that are of no further additive value to this discussion now.

Comparative Growth of Andrews, 1918 - 1954 

The developed area of the town in 1918 has been given.  The population then was about 1800 people.  The town reached a population of about 2400 in 1928, recede to a population of about 1800 in 1929, and has now a population, with its suburbs, of almost 2500 people.  The area involved in this expansion has been proportionately larger.

The only area within the limits that has had but little expansion is that beyond the old Seaboard shops and two small areas near West Andrews.  That means that the distribution system must be doubled, at least, to take care of the present population.

It would be very unwise to depend upon individual septic tanks to take care of this alone, the problem assumes large proportions.

A Study of the Deep Well Potentialities 

The chemical evaluation of deep well water will be discussed first.  Any and all water that can be recaptured from under-surface strata along the coastal plane of South Carolina, is of high mineral content, and none of it can or does compare with Black River water.  The first water reached under the ground surface is commonly called surface water, and at Andrews, it is all of that water that may be recovered in the first 35 ft.  The outcropping or recharge of this strata is area in our immediate vicinity, and depends upon local rainfall almost wholly.  There are seasons almost every year that this source of water fails entirely, even if there are no pumps or wells drawing from it.

The next water bearing strata, or succession of strata begin about 35 ft. deep, and extend downward to perhaps 400 ft., and are known geologically as the Pee Dee formation.  This water is universally high in bicarbonates.  The third available strata is that known as Black Creek, that begins about 400 ft. deep and extends to probably 600 ft. deep.  This is the strata from which nearly all of the water at Marion, Conway, Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, Pawleys Island, Georgetown, Kingstree, and much of the water from Mullins, Florence, Lake City, Manning, Paris Island, and formerly of Charleston and Summerville has been taken.

The mineral content of this water is high in several elements, particularly in Fluorine, Iron, and Bicarbonate.  The average content of all waters at Myrtle Beach, Murrells Inlet, and Pawleys Island is in excess of 4.5 parts per million of Fluorine and in excess of one part of iron.  When it is known that the Dental Association of the United States that more than one part of Fluorine is harmful to human teeth, particularly of infants and young children, it significance becomes apparent.  The U.S. Board of Health says that iron in excess of 0.3 parts per million is harmful.  Other values are also given that when added to the outstanding figures mentioned, indicates that it is not by any means good practice to use the water if other and better water is available.

If the question be raised that people drink and apparently thrive on this kind of water, it can be answered that human beings must have water of some kind in order to survive.  I have personally drunk many gallons of raw river water while engaged in my profession of surveying, when no other water could be had, but even so, I did not like to do it.

I have talked with dentists in Georgetown and Conway.  They tell me that enamel pitting and discoloration of teeth, with the accompanying disease known as caries, is very prevalent in the communities mentioned.

Much more can be said upon this subject of mineralized water, but enough has been given to call to  your attention the probabilities to be expected.

Supply of Deep Well Water 

When water is withdrawn from the ground, the only way that it can be replenished is by underground percolation.  This is a very slow process, and the underground velocity depends on transmissibility of the soil through which it passes.  In sandy soils the velocity is much greater than in clayey soils, but even in the most porous soils, percolation is in the order of feet per day.  In common sense talk, this means that if the water in a reservoir under the surface of the ground is withdrawn faster than it can flow in, sooner or later there will be no more water in the reservoir.  This is a situation that has troubled and is now seriously troubling people all over the U.S.

The greatest reservoir in America is known as the Dakota reservoir, and it covers some eight states of the north central part of the U.S.  The water table, extensive as it is, was being depleted so rapidly that several of the states affected passed regulatory laws governing the withdrawal of water, and at this time all of the states affected have stringent laws governing this matter.  No one can dig a well in this area without first obtaining a license, and cannot draw any water from the well in excess of the quantity permitted.

The large cities along the Missouri and Mississippi obtain their drinking and domestic water from these rivers, and the process of purification is much greater than ours.  The city of Savannah did draw all of its municipal water from deep wells.  The reservoir there was comparatively small, and the draw down was so great that the city has completed investigations for obtaining their water from the Savannah near Augusta.  Available reports in South Carolina indicate that the sub-surface water table formation in our own section has become alarming.

At Georgetown, for instance, the last well dug there, 8" in diameter, had an original flow, two years ago, of 450 g.p.m., but as of this date the maximum amount that can be withdrawn is 200 g.p.m.  The water table in Georgetown had dropped in the last few years approximately 150 ft.  Pumps supplying that city today are operating at a head pressure of 55 lbs.  As one reason of the scarcity of water in Georgetown is at the I.P.C. Plant, the city is giving all available excess water to the Company.  Mr. Robinson, their engineer, tells me that they have had salt intrusion in one of their wells within the last few days, and that he is daily in fear that it may occur in others.  In his words, the city is sitting on a powder keg.

This situation is easy of understanding if one will take the trouble to consult the Geologic maps, and read over the bulletins published by the Research and Planning Board of South Carolina.  The geology of this state, as first explored by Dr. C. Whythe Cook, shows that a phenomena, known as the Great Carolina Bridge extends almost parallel with the state line, just north of South Carolina, and all of the outcroppings of rock strata in this state occurs on this side of that ridge.

The Black Creek formation  outcrop has been mapped as including portions of Dillon, Marlboro, Darlington, and Marion Counties. and its area is approximately 950 sq. miles or about one and one-half the size of Georgetown County. The water falling on this area as rain that is not consumed in "run-off"  into the two branches of the Pee Dee which traverse the area; the transpiration of vegetable matter and the evaporation into the atmosphere, or probably less than eight inches per year all told is the only source from which the reservoir can be replenished.  It must be remembered that the subsurface strata containing the water of this formation extends eastward to the ocean and southward to Walterboro, Parris Island, and thereabouts.  It can be visualized as if one should get a funnel on the ground upside down and poured water on top of the spout.  The water would flow all over the surface of the funnel, and a relatively small portion would accumulate at any given place.

There is another water bearing formation that lies immediately under the Black Creek, known as the Tuscaloosa.  This water is also highly mineralized, but not in the same proportions as the Black Creek.  It is equally objectionable, however.

Construction of Deep Wells 

The purpose of screens in a well is primarily to keep the sand out of the water that is brought up to be used.  A good screen is usually made of a bronze material, and has mesh of a precise size to screen of the sand.  In all hardware stores there are shown for sale well screens of 1-1/2" size, and of different meshes.  When such a screen is connected to a pipe of 10" diameter, it can be readily understood that no great length of such pipe can be placed on the line underneath it, because of its lack of strength.

It follows that there is but one screen in a well as in usual construction.  If it happens that in digging a well the bore passes through several strata of unacceptable water bearing sand before arriving at a location that is sufficient both in volume and quality, such water could be brought to the surface in its pure state only by casing the well down to the pure water.  Most contracts for digging that I have seen have a clause printed in them specifying gravel walls for the wells.  This means that below the depth of the casing, all of the water through which the bore passes, whether good or bad, is mixed in the well and such a mixture is the water that is intended to be used.

Pumping of Wells 

When water is being pumped out of a well, the water immediately surrounding the shaft assumes the shape of an inverted cone.  The turbine must be placed at a depth so that it will always be under the water table, else it will not pump.  As the water in the well is depleted, the surface of the water becomes lower and lower, which necessitates the lowering of the turbine.  This is exactly what has happened in Georgetown.  It is not only possible but it is quite probable that a deep well, heavily pumped, might furnish a given supply of water until the artesian head is lowered to that point that does not supply the necessary water.  The volume must then be reduced.  That also is what has happened in Georgetown, where the last well dug there at first produced 450 gallons at the surface, and now only produces 300 gallons 150 ft. below the surface.

In comparison with these figures, the actual head against which our present pumps work in Black River is 32 ft. plus the friction head at the pipe line, and never will be more than that.

Surface Streams 

I have before me a reproduction from the 1952 Code of Laws, Title 70, Chapter 3, Paragraphs 70-101 through 70-139, Volume 6, entitled "South Carolina Water Pollution Control Law."  This law sets up a board to deal with all matters pertaining to stream flow.  Their work is now getting under way, and on Aug. 26 last the board held a  public hearing in Moncks Corner for the purpose of gaining information to be used in the classification of river waters.  At the request of the Georgetown County delegation and at the further request on the International Paper Company, I together with Dr. Sims, the company's chief technical advisor, attended the meeting.  Incidentally, I saw no representative there from Georgetown except two of Dr. Sims associates, and non whatever from Williamsburg.  I prepared a report of that meeting which was given to Senator Morrison.

Mr. Linton, executive secretary of the Pollution Board conducted the hearing and placed under discussion, consecutively, all of the streams from the Ashley to the Pee Dee.  As a result of an argument by our group, a tentative assignment of class "0" of Sampit River was withdrawn, and the probability of a classification "B" by the board was deemed probable.

On the subject of Black River, Mr. Linton publicly stated that the Town of Andrews, having used Black River as a source of supply for 32 years, had acquired rights in its waters that made it necessary to classify it at least "B", through its length that affected Andrews.  Since "C" water is not acceptable to the International Paper Co., our group made representations to that effect, and the final probable classification "B" was promised.  Should the town of Andrews, for any reasons, cease to use Black River water as a source of municipal supply, it would immediately lose its riparian rights in the river, and it would be barred from further use of its waters for any purposes without first having obtained permission to do so.

Moreover, such action  would open the door for a re-classification of the waters of the river into a category that would be hurtful to the community.

It should be understood that the classification of flowing streams is made on a basis of the amount of contamination that it may be permitted to carry.

So long as we use Black River water, we are sitting in a very happy position, but if we lose our present rights, or deliberately give them up, we shall have lost something that it will be most difficult to regain.

The Disposal System of Andrews 

As has been mentioned heretofore, the disposal plant in Andrews has passed through a succession of unsatisfactory circumstances.  In the light of the present pollution law, we may be sure that the Town will be required to do two things, and if they, who are administering the Town's affairs are wise, they will undertake to do these things immediately, and save the town considerable embarrassment and expense in the very near future.  First, see that the accumulation of sewage is adequately carried to the disposal plant, and properly treated.  Second, see that the effluent from the disposal plant is properly and adequately filtered before it is released to the waters of Black River.  It must be remembered that the Pollution Board has been given, and they have indicated that they will assume the absolute authority to abate any practice that might not be consistent with rules that they have laid down.


What has been written in the foregoing six pages represents my personal views in the water situation in Andrews.  My most important concern is the continued good health of our infants and growing children, and in my opinion, it would be a terrible thing to perform an unnecessary act that would even tend to jeopardize that good health.

There are not many people in Andrews today whose recollection goes back as far as mine, and there are none here who have a greater pride in the remarkable growth of the community, and who have struggled in the dim past to make the town what it is today.  Were it not for the effort put forth in the first few years of the town's history, it is very doubtful that Andrews would be today the community that has been chosen by many of its present citizens to make their home.

The effect of fast changing time has relegated most of the elderly people into a  category of "Old Fogies," but one must remember that an overdoes of strychnine will kill one as surely and as quickly today as it would have 70 years ago.

I sincerely hope that the Council of Andrews can and will find a method by which it can abandon its intention of using deep well water in lieu of the present supply of Black River water.

Reference substantiating the statements herein made are easily available, and will gladly given if desired.

Andrews, SC
S. Paul Harper - Signature

A copy of this original report can be found at:
Andrews Public Library
105 N Morgan Ave
Andrews, SC 29510
Tel:  (803) 264-8785 
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