BEECH ISLAND, S.C. (WJBF) — Following a business fire, the Beech Island Water District is seeking a grant to fix its aging water system following a fire at Dollar General.

“Often wondered why we don’t have any. I guess it’s never really become an issue until recently with the tragedy at Dollar General,” Glenn Stringfield told NewsChannel 6’s Aiken Bureau Chief Shawn Cabbagestalk. “I always wondered why that bag would be on top of the fire hydrant because it looks like you can’t gain access to it. I thought they were fixing it,” Rodney Matthews added.

There are nearly 300 fire hydrants in the Beech Island Water District. Two of them near Dollar General are still not working. “We’re gonna try to get a contractor to come out and fix it because it’s got water pressure on it now, and we can’t cut it off,” Jerry Martin of the board of Directors of Beach Island Water shared.

The closet one was not in a convenient location. “They did find a hydrant that was 1,800 feet away, but there was a hydrant across 125 that was a lot closer, but they did not want to shut down Highway 125,” he added.

The hydrants are more than sixty years old. That makes it difficult to make repairs. “So if you tear those up, you lose 80% of your water system,” Martin said.

A grant from the state could fix the issue. It would replace water lines and add new tanks and emergency features. “Right now, we’ve got two different systems, a high-pressure system and a low-pressure system. We’re gonna put a PRB to tie those two together, give more water on the low-pressure side. That’s expected to improve the volume and quality of water.

If the water department is approved for that grant, those changes will take about a year to be in place. “We’ve had an engineering group work on the paperwork for at least a year to get this grant,” Martin said. If the grant is not secured, the water system will need to take out a loan for the project.

“You don’t realize, you don’t really know how bad you need something until you don’t have it, you know, and it’d be nice to have it in advance,” Stringfield said.