INTERNET AND WATER FACILITIES: Congressman Clyburn and Biden administration officials highlight infrastructure improvements

ORANGEBURG, SC (WOLO) — According to US Department of Agriculture economic research. more than three-quarters of a million South Carolina residents live in rural areas.

In these areas, the study shows that the poverty rate is higher and there are fewer education and employment opportunities.

Friday afternoon, Congressman Jim Clyburn was joined by guests to the Palmetto State on a tour about how last year’s passed infrastructure bill can help rural communities. They visited the Orangeburg Library to speak about the President’s goals for the bill.

“When [President Biden] says we’re going to build a better America, better to him means equity,” said Mitch Landrieu, senior advisor to the President. “It means seeing underserved communities, white, black, rural, urban, making sure everyone is included, making sure we lift everyone up and making sure we have high-paying jobs.”

Last year, Congress passed a bipartisan infrastructure bill and President Joe Biden signed it into law.

“Everyone deserves opportunity. Everyone deserves a chance. For that to happen, broadband is key,” said Gina Raimondo, US Department of Commerce secretary.

However, Internet is not currently available for everyone in the state.

“Twenty percent of South Carolinians don’t have access to high-speed, affordable broadband. It’s time to change that,” Raimondo said. “You don’t have to come to a library to use broadband.”

The Department of Commerce Secretary says the money will be provided to internet carriers only if they offer an affordable plan. She adds that low-income families will also be given a $30 internet voucher.

“It’s not just about laying fiber, it’s about making sure it’s affordable,” she said.

High-speed internet is not the only positive of creating more broadband opportunities. 

“We’re also going to be putting some of this money into job training,” Raimondo said. “We’re going to be creating a lot of jobs in the process of doing this.”

The more than $1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also hopes to tackle other needs in America, such as improved or replaced water treatment facilities. 

“Clean air. Clean water. Sewer systems. Getting lead out. Dealing with flooding issues,” Landrieu said.

The town of Norway has some of the oldest water pipes in the state. Communities like this Orangeburg County town are part of those that the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act can help.

“I am working with the rural communities to regionalize their approaches. Instead of everyone having their own little water system, let’s come together and see what we can do to regionalize some of this,” Congressman Jim Clyburn said.

The House Majority Whip says this is a cost effective way for rural communities to have good water systems. He points out how important a water treatment plant can be for economic   growth by giving the example of the Lake Marion Regional Water Agency.

“People called it a waste of money,” Clyburn said. “However, when South Carolina beat out Georgia for the Volvo plant, what was the difference? The Lake Marion Regional Water Agency.”

The Congressman says even more can be done for rural communities than just internet access and water facilities.

“I’m a big proponent of getting a community health center within commuting distance of every person in America,” Clyburn said.

The Congressman and guests toured the Orangeburg Water Treatment Plant and Railroad Corner Redevelopment project as part of Friday’s infrastructure tour.

Categories: Local News, Orangeburg