Columbia has many attributes that form a strong foundation for the local economy. The headquarters of state government, the University of South Carolina, and the site of one of our nation’s leading military bases — Fort Jackson — all play a huge role in providing high quality jobs and economic activity. Most people who live here realize this, but they may not be aware of another great attribute we have — water.
Columbia is blessed with a tremendous amount of water. Thanks to Lake Murray and its 763 billion gallons of water, as well as the confluence of two rivers, Columbia possesses an abundance of an important commodity that many metropolises do not.
Access to a large, clean water supply is becoming more and more important to economic growth and quality of life. The recent construction and operation of Mark Anthony Brewing Co.’s White Claw plant is a case in point; Columbia was chosen largely because of our abundant water supply and the city’s ability to provide it to the factory. The White Claw plant uses 3 million gallons of water a day to make its products.
According to Jeff Ruble, director of Richland County Economic Development, “In many communities across the country, this would have a major negative impact, and in most communities out west this would be impossible.”
As the United States continues to grow in population as well as economic activity, access to this finite resource is of critical importance. Columbia is well poised to capitalize on our water supply for business growth and expansion as well as providing recreation that plays so heavily in corporate decisions on the location of plants and offices.
Water skiing, sailing, fishing, pontoon boating while watching the purple martins, and even pretty good scuba diving are all to be had on Lake Murray. Some of the best smallmouth bass, trout, and striper fishing are easily accessible on the Broad, Saluda, and Congaree rivers, not to mention whitewater kayaking on the Saluda and a wonderful trail system along its banks.
On page 110, Richard Breen examines the surprising importance of watery resources to our state’s economy as a whole, as well as to our local economy in the Midlands, from boat manufacturers — six of the top 10 ranked nationally are in South Carolina — to fishing tournaments.
Quality of life is enriched in Columbia by the multitude of activities available on our lakes and rivers. The city of Columbia and other local governments need to continue improving the infrastructure required for ample water supply and wastewater so as not to squander this incredible resource.