PICKENS – The new director of the Public Works Department for the City of Pickens recently outlined several projects the city is working on and addressed improvements to the city’s infrastructure that will be coming down the pike.
Cory Cox, a graduate of Clemson University and a licensed engineer, started his career in the private sector as a consulting engineer in the Upstate. He has been the director of the Public Works Department for about six months.
“I hope to take my previous experiences with other local governments and make improvements to our current systems that not only meet the needs of the city’s residents and businesses but also fit well with the vision and direction provided by our City Council,” he said.
One of the biggest changes for the City of Pickens has been the merging of the Streets/Sanitation and Water Maintenance Departments into one Public Works Department.
Cox said one of his goals is to bring awareness and educate residents and businesses on what the Public Works Department is currently working to improve and why changes or improvements are needed.
“For example, during the fall when leaves and brush really started to pile up, we developed a leaves, brush and C&D pickup schedule that coincided with the residential trash pickup schedule,” he said. “This allowed us to focus our efforts on a section of town and guarantee your brush and leaves would be picked up during a certain window of time. Prior to the change we had multiple pockets of town that would go several weeks before receiving pickup.”
Cox also addressed improvements to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure, pointing out that the city spent about $4 million to upgrade the water plant, which is about 60 years old.
“Water and Wastewater Superintendent Brian Gravely said the city is currently producing the best water it has ever produced,” Cox said. “One of our goals at Public Works is to insure that high quality water is delivered to your tap.”
Cox said most of the city infrastructure is aged, and major system improvements are needed.
“With that said, we plan to use every dollar allocated by council to make the largest impact as possible,” he said.
This past fiscal year, approximately $900,000 in grants and city utility funds were spent on capital improvements and two sections of old galvanized water lines on Mt. View Road and Ray Drive were replaced.
“The choice to replace these lines made the most sense because we could dramatically improve water quality for a relatively small amount of money,” he said.
For the coming fiscal year, Cox said the Public Works Department plans to improve low pressure problems on Highland Drive and replace a section of old galvanized water line near the intersection of Fox Squirrel Ridge Road and Hendricks Road.
While Cox urged residents to be patient during the work, he also said customers should not become complacent with their water quality.
“If you currently have water issues, please let us know,” he said. “The city is now utilizing a work order system to better track complaints and to ensure they are handled in timely manner. We are also utilizing GIS technology and software to track frequent complaints and breaks in an effort to watch for patterns and prioritize line rehab or replacement.”
With the help of Beeson & Rosier Engineering, the city has developed an extensive capital improvements plan to improve the water distribution system, the water plant, and the wastewater plant. Currently the plan does not address needs to the aging sewer system.
Cox also said the department wants to develop a capital improvement plan for the sewer system. The process will begin with smoke testing of sewer lines. The smoke is harmless and will not affect sewer lines or homes.
“This helps us identify our worst problem areas and gives us a starting point to begin generating a sewer capital improvements plan,” he said.
Call 864-878-6421, visit the City of Pickens’ Facebook page or follow them on Twitter at @PickensWorks for more information.