Compromise met over Edisto River potato farm

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Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Friends of the Edisto, a group that sued to stop a potato farm from trying to withdraw billions of gallons out of the South Edisto River near Windsor, has settled out of court.

Walther Farms offered a settlement compromise earlier this month. Friends of the Edisto has accepted that compromise.

"Comparing the value of these concessions with the potential for success in court where the weight of the law was so decidedly against us, we concluded that negotiating this settlement was the wiser course," the organization said in a release.

Walther Farms, a supplier of potatoes for the Frito-Lay company, originally had plans to pump 9.6 billion gallons of water from the South Edisto River every year for what'll be the largest potato farm in the state.

The compromise plan News 12 has obtained lists a number of changes. The farm will reduce the amount it withdraws from the river by 50 percent, it will work with the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to install a monitoring station that will track flow rates to "promote responsible water use and awareness," it will drill a backup well on the Aiken County portion of the farm to supplement river water during times of drought, and it will drill wells in the portion of the farm in Barnwell County (known as the Wiley Fork Farm) to avoid pumping the 3 billion gallons of water from the river that DHEC was in the process of considering.

In addition to the farms Edisto River protection plan, the farm also plans to "equip all irrigation systems with the highest efficiency technology minimizing evaporation during watering," "use precision and sustainable agricultural production practices," reduce the risk of nutrient runoff through precise metering, "discontinue the hardwood cutting along the Edisto River," "maintain an erosion control plan," and "plant over 60 acres of food plots on the upland acres that will provide supplemental food sources to wildlife."

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