How do I shut off my water in an emergency?
If there is a plumbing emergency, you should shut off your water at the main water valve to protect against water leaks and damage to your home.
The most likely locations for your main water valve are:
- Where the water supply pipe enters your home
- Beside the water meter, on the “customer side”
If you cannot find a shut off valve, you should have one installed as soon as possible, before you have a plumbing emergency. Call a plumber if you are unable to make the installation yourself. If you need your water turned off to install a shutoff valve, please call our Customer Service Department to have that scheduled.
Beaufort-Jasper Water & Sewer Authority (BJWSA) works closely with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) as well as with local fire departments to ensure both water quality and fire safety.
Every hydrant within the BJWSA service area is flushed annually. Hydrant flushing is necessary to test the hydrants to make sure adequate flow and pressure are available for fire emergencies. Flushing is also done to help maintain water quality in the distribution system. The quality issue could be either a taste, color, or odor complaint. We also monitor disinfection residual and at times have to flush to increase this.
It may seem as if there is a significant amount of water that is wasted, or that is going into local storm sewers or waterways. The impact of this water is substantially less than the average rain event.
Information regarding hydrant flushing can be obtained by calling 843-987-9200.
Why is it necessary to have a backflow prevention device
on my meter?
Backflow prevention devices are installed with customer water meters to prevent any foreign chemicals or substances within the customer’s property from back-siphoning into our regional water system.
“Cross-connection” means any actual or potential connection or structural arrangement between a public water supply and any other source or system through which it is possible to introduce into any part of the potable system any used water, industrial fluid, gas or substance other than the intended potable water with which the system is supplied. By-pass arrangements, jumper connections, removable sections, swivel or changeover devices and other temporary or permanent devices through which or because of which backflow can or may occur are considered cross-connections.
Backflow or backsiphonage can happen accidently through a cross connection, where a pipe or hose that contains polluted water is connected to the water supply pipeline. If the water system loses pressure, harmful pollution can seep backward into the water system. Backflow from a yard irrigation system could accidentally contaminate our precious drinking water supply with pesticides, fertilizers and other potentially harmful chemicals.
What can I do to prevent sewer back-ups?
A little grease can cause big problems!
Fats, oils and greases are not just bad for your arteries and your waistline; they are bad for sewers, too. When washed down the sink, grease sticks to the insides of sewer pipes on your property and the pipelines under the street. Over time, it can build up, harden into a plug and block an entire pipe, causing sewer overflows and backups.
Home garbage disposals do not keep grease out of the plumbing system. Products, such as detergents that claim to dissolve grease, may pass the grease down the pipeline and cause problems elsewhere.
Never put grease down the drain!
- Scrape grease and food scraps into a can or the trash for disposal (or recycling where available)
- Whenever you have a greasy pan to wash, wipe it out after use (while it is still warm, not hot) with newspaper or paper towels
- Put baskets/strainers in sink drains to catch food scraps and other solids, and then empty them in the trash
- Encourage your friends and neighbors to keep grease out of drain
Trash in the toilet can cause big problems too!
While trash such as baby diapers, plastics and even cigarette filters and chewing gum may seem to disappear when flushed down the toilet, they can form a messy mass and clog your plumbing system and BJWSA pipelines. The result? Sewage back-ups that can be unhealthy for you and the environment.
The toilet is NOT a trashcan – never flush down anything but toilet paper.
What is the pink stuff on my bathroom fixtures?
That “pink stuff” that you may be seeing around your sink drains or in your toilets is naturally occurring airborne bacteria that has nothing to do with the quality of your water. Once airborne, these bacteria seek moist environments to grow.
Always keep bathtubs and sinks wiped down and dry. Frequently clean your sinks with a cleaning solution that contains chlorine. Three to five tablespoons of chlorine bleach can be periodically stirred into the toilet tank and flushed into the bowl itself. Cleaning and flushing with chlorine may not eliminate the problem, but will help control the bacteria growth. If you have a septic tank, use a non-chlorine cleaner, such as borax to avoid damaging your septic system.
Important! Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for your plumbing fixtures and countertops; chlorine cannot be used with some designer products. Use care with abrasives to avoid scratching fixtures, which will make them even more susceptible to bacteria.
Is the water safe to use in my fish tanks?
Our water treatment process uses chloramines for disinfection. Chloramines, like chlorine, must be removed from water that goes into fish tanks. Pet stores can provide aquarium owners with a dechloraminating chemical or granular activated carbon filter to remove chloramines effectively from fish tanks.
Trash pick-up and recycling are included on my water bill.
Do I call BJWSA with questions about these services?
For Port Royal and City of Beaufort customers only, BJWSA includes the cost of garbage and recycling pick-up services on monthly water and sewer bills. However, we do NOT provide these services. If you have questions or concerns about your garbage and/or recycling service, please contact:
- Town of Port Royal Public Works at 843-986-2211
- Waste Pro at 843-645-4100
How does BJWSA determine our service rates?
Determining rates is an annual step-by-step process conducted by BJWSA staff, working with an outside rate consultant and the Board of Directors’ Finance Committee. BJWSA’s budget and rates are reviewed, evaluated, and approved initially by the Finance Committee and finally by the full Board of Directors. The goals of the rate-making process are to ensure that rates are fair and equitable and generate enough funds to reliably operate and maintain the water and wastewater systems. In addition, rates are designed to promote water conservation.
For more details, DeterminingRates (pdf)
What affects BJWSA rates?
BJWSA is investing carefully today in technology, training and equipment, so that the superior quality of drinking water and wastewater treatment systems will hold down future costs. However, certain characteristics of the BJWSA system and our lowcountry community impact our water and sewer rates:
BJWSA is a non-profit, non-taxing, public utility that depends solely on the money received from customer payments, capacity fees, connection fees and wholesale services for providing water and wastewater services.
- We have been a rapidly growing community, rather than a stable population. To meet this growth, BJWSA has built major facilities in the last twelve years, requiring new debt to be repaid. Community growth also has meant road widening and bridge building, which has resulted in the costly moving of pipelines by BJWSA.
- In order to protect our sensitive local waterways and the environment, BJWSA’s water reclamation facilities (wastewater treatment) must use expensive, very high level treatment to safely recycle the cleaned water and meet state standards.
- Your water comes from the Savannah River. Treatment of surface water is more expensive than well-water treatment.
- BJWSA’s large service area includes a number of islands. Crossing rivers with pipelines involves very expensive construction. With a dependency on bridge travel to reach islands, we must duplicate some labor and emergency equipment on different islands in case of hurricanes or other crises.
- The service area is flat; without gravity to move wastewater, BJWSA must build, operate and maintain almost 400 pump stations that use costly electrical power.
- More stations are added every month. We also must have large portable generators for back-up power supply in the event of a hurricane or terrorism.
Why are sewer rates higher than water rates?
Sewer charges are higher than water costs for several reasons. Wastewater treatment is a more complex process than water treatment. Regulations require a high level of wastewater treatment for environmental protection, including sophisticated biological systems for removing organic materials, complicated filters and modern disinfection methods. Our advanced systems are costly to build and operate, increasing the overall cost of wastewater service. However, the water we return to the environment is almost drinking water quality.
Another reason for wastewater treatment costs being higher is that there are more people using our water service than wastewater service. Having a larger customer base to share the costs of operating the water system lowers the cost to individual customers. Wastewater costs are shared by fewer people, making sewer rates higher for each customer.
Is there a maximum sewer service rate?
BJWSA has a cap of $57 per month on wastewater bills. In other words, $57 per month is the highest wastewater charge a residential customer can receive, no matter how much water they use.