ST. GEORGE - Another plan to lure badly needed industry here is on the table.

Dorchester County would take over the town's sewer plant and run lines toward Interstates 26 and 95. Officials hope to land another plant like Bosch.

Members of county and town councils met last week to talk about the plan. A letter of intent should be ready for both sides to sign by the end of the month, County Administrator Jason Ward said.

Residents and officials have been talking for years about the need for more sewer and water to bring industries to the major traffic corridors near St. George.

Water would come from the Lake Marion Regional Water Authority. The town's sewer plant has the capacity to handle several big industries. But the town doesn't have the borrowing power to expand the sewer plant to service them.

That's where the county would come in. The town would give the sewer plant to the county. In return, the county would give the town a territory that includes 70 water customers outside town limits.

Upgrading the sewer plant would cost between $ 5 million and $ 7 million, St. George Administrator Jason Purvis said.

Officials expect the Upper Dorchester County Economic Development Fund to pay about $ 4 million. State Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, has been building the pot from the state appropriations bill and fees collected from cement plants near Harleyville.

The county would borrow the rest. The loan would be repaid with fees from new industries and new residents, Dorchester County Council Chairman Larry Hargett said.

"We don't intend to put that burden on existing users," he said.

St. George Mayor David Sojourner's biggest concern was that rates not increase for town residents. County officials assured him they would not.

The sewer plant has a capacity to treat another 250,000 gallons a day, Purvis said.

That's more than five times the amount Bosch produces, according to Councilman Jamie Feltner, an environmental engineer at Bosch. The automotive parts plant, which employs about 2,500 workers, sends sewage to the county's North Charleston plant.

Expanding the sewer plant in St. George would take about two years, according to Mike Murphree, chairman of County Council's public works committee. That's about how long it would take to build a new manufacturing plant. " This could get the ball rolling," Murphree said. " That's the idea, to try to hit a home run with a big industry."

"I'm behind it," St. George Councilman Oscar Odom said. " We wouldn't be sitting here if there weren't benefits on both sides."

Reach Dave Munday at 745-5862 or dmunday@postandcourier.com.