As General Manager of the Hilton Head Public Service District (PSD), it’s my pleasure and honor to congratulate our community on the occasion of the PSD’s 50th anniversary this year! The PSD was created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1969 to provide public water and sewer on Hilton Head Island. The past half century has seen remarkable achievements in the provision of drinking water and sanitary sewer on the island. Today’s PSD is a continuously advancing organization working on dynamic and complex systems that protect public health and our environment, through the stewardship of our most precious natural resource – water.
Providing clean drinking water and recycling wastewater 24/7/365 on a barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean comes with its achievements and its challenges. The PSD has introduced advanced water treatment and storage methods to replace our traditional water supply that is being lost over time to the phenomenon of saltwater intrusion into the fresh water underground aquifer. We’ve also introduced cutting-edge technologies to better track water consumption and find water distribution system leaks. This year, we completed the island’s first-ever satellite-based leak detection, using satellite technology to inspect our entire water distribution for leaks at one time.
We’re still completing the build-out of our sanitary sewer system. In recent years, we’ve partnered with the Town of Hilton Head Island and the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s Project SAFE (Sewer Access for Everyone) charitable fund to extend the sewer system into many neighborhoods that previously lacked access. We are committed to continue our work to extend the sewer system into private subdivisions and private mobile home parks that remain on septic systems.
The PSD is a 100% recycled water utility. Recycled, or reclaimed, water is a wastewater treatment concept that in many ways was pioneered on Hilton Head Island. Our Recycled Water Plant treats wastewater from our sanitary sewer system and turns it into beneficial reclaimed water that is then sold to golf courses for irrigation or sent into existing wetlands to nourish those habitats. This program helps conserve our treated drinking water supply, provides an affordable irrigation supply for our golf courses, and sustains vital plant and wildlife communities in our natural wetlands.
Renowned biologist Todd Ballantine, author of the local classic Tideland Treasure, spent decades monitoring the PSD’s recycled water program in our wetlands. As Ballantine once wrote, “Reclaimed water, highly treated and supplied by Hilton Head PSD, has restored Cypress and Whooping Crane conservancies, and it has preserved and restored rare ecosystems in Palmetto Hall.”
The PSD also needs your help in fostering stewardship of our water resources and environment. Did you know that about half of the demand for drinking water on Hilton Head Island is used for residential irrigation? Our treated drinking water is procured at great expense, requiring multi-million-dollar capital projects and annual budgets to both develop supplies and treat and distribute our water. Yet we all have seen this precious natural resource being used to irrigate asphalt and concrete, or to over-water turf and plants that don’t need it.
Hilton Head local law limits irrigation to two-days a week only, and requires a working rain sensor on all irrigation systems. We strongly urge our customers to not only follow this law, but also to be thinking about ways in which we can as a community move past this water-intensive residential irrigation paradigm to create a more sustainable future for the next generations.
We are so thankful for the support of our customers, our elected Board of Commissioners, and our entire island community for the successes of the past 50 years. We look forward to meeting the future’s challenges and being a part of sustaining Hilton Head Island’s top-notch quality of life for generations to come. We invite the community to come by and see us some time at our Recycled Water Plant on Oak Park Drive, or schedule a tour of our Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Facility on Jenkins Island. Like our motto says, We’re Always Working for You!