HOPKINS, S.C. — Richland County announced that the deadline is approaching for residents interested in tapping onto the Southeast Water & Sewer Project.

Residents have until December 16th to opt in or out of the system. 

The goal is to provide water and sewer services to the rural area of Richland County. 

According to a release sent by Richland County, residents who tap into the system should expect combined monthly rates of about $75, with additional charges for water based on usage.

The Lower Richland sewer has been a topic of discussion for half a decade, as some residents pushed back over the potential cost for homeowners.

The system is supposed to pay for itself. However, Councilwoman Dalhi Myers says there will be an initial bond to pay for the Southeast Water and Sewer Project, that is part of a countywide effort to improve utilities.

"So the initial bond for the county wide system will be $35 million," says Myers. "This is an enterprise bond, which means that the people who use the service will pay for the service."

Residents aren't required to connect to the system, but for residents interested, Myers says the time to tap on is now.

"Anyone who is interested in tying on while the sewer is coming through can do so for free," says Myers. "There's no tap fee and they won't be charged any access fee for essentially the last mile to get it from the road to their house. This is the time to do it if you think you'll ever want to be part of this open system."

Myers says this will also be an opportunity to install high speed internet lines in the area. 

"This will improve the quality of life for the children at the schools and it will certainly improve the whole of the community and provide us infrastructure that is desperately needed to make this part of the county, essentially, on par with the rest of the county."

The project is scheduled to begin at the beginning of 2020 and end in late 2021.