At its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, February 4, Aiken County Council discussed a resolution to send to South Carolina state lawmakers requesting action to improve its law concerning removal of water from the state's waterways. The resolution had been introduced at Council's last regularly scheduled meeting in January but had been placed on the table to permit additional review by the members.
On being removed from the table (parliamentary procedure rules,) discussion was initiated by Councilmember Rawls, in whose district a recent withdrawal approval occurred resulting in considerable controversy. This approval, lacking any public input, and being seemingly against the interests of numerous Aiken County residents, is the reason for the resolution.
Councilmember Rawls began her comments by introducing a change to the previously tabled resolution. She began by stating she would like to introduce a resolution to replace the resolution currently under consideration. Her resolution follows:
"Aiken County Council expresses its collective concern (with flaws in?...) and the messages that have recently come to light regarding the implementation of the South Carolina Surface Water Withdrawal Act. And Aiken County Council expresses its appreciation for the leadership of Aiken County's legislative delegation in seeking reform of the Act consistent with the principles of fairness, equity, the public's right to know and participate in decisions affecting the public interest of the public trust and the conservation of the (cough...) natural resources within the iconic Edisto River basin and in other river courses throughout South Carolina. And Aiken County Council wishes to urge the Aiken County delegation to continue to work diligently towards this end and not cease in its efforts until these critical issues are resolved in favor of the public interests of the citizens of Aiken County and the great State of South Carolina.
Now, therefore be it resolved by the Aiken County Council, that the Aiken County Council urges the Aiken County Legislative Delegation, and the South Carolina General Assembly to amend the South Carolina Surface Water Withdrawal Act to reflect the desires of the citizens of Aiken County and of South Carolina to protect our vital water sources."
Councilmember Rawls then asked that this revised "resolution be put in the place of the resolution from last meeting."
The request received a second, and when discussion was requested Councilmember McKenzie asked Council to consider an amendment to the revised resolution. Discussion ensued concerning what should be done when with regards to the revised resolution and the proposed amendment to the revised resolution--more parliamentary processes.
Councilmember McKenzie then explained the reasoning for her amendment which was, essentially, that while she was "behind Councilmember Rawls' resolution 100 percent," she just didn't trust (the process?) to act sufficiently in support of the resolution (or something of that nature.) This was a result of the way ethics legislation from the previous year was handled. "If someone had told me last year," she said, "when they were working on the Ethics bill that I would not support that ethics bill, when it came out, I'd have told you you were crazy...When that bill came out it was weaker and it protected certain people." This apparently was not to Councilmember McKenzie's liking.
The reasoning behind her amendment being so stated, she then presented that proposed amendment, i.e., to add the following to Councilmember Rawls' resolution:
"The Aiken County Council, while recognizing the need to (review and?) potentially amend the Surface Water Withdrawal Act, reserves the right to comment further on any suggested amendments to the Act and to offer additional amending language...(where it is?) necessary and effective."
The amendment was then approved by Council as was the revised resolution (with one abstention.)
The remainder of the meeting had nothing to do with the resolution or the perceived problems with the Surface Water Withdrawal Act and will not be discussed here.
Those interested in a good review of reasons for the above County Council actions, in addition to reviewing the last few Examiner articles, should go to Amy Banton's article in Aiken County's principal local newspaper, the AikenStandard. Ms. Banton's article should help the reader better understand happenings on this subject and provides a list of recent past articles for review. Ms. Banton also reported on this Council meeting, but she did not report the details of the resolution found in Examiner (and Examiner did not report on other items found in her article.)
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