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Carol Elliott, a Wastewater Professional Pioneer

March 23, 2023

  • MetroConnects General Manager Carol Elliott entered the wastewater field more than 30 years ago, breaking barriers in the traditionally male-dominated industry.
  • This month, Elliott was honored with the Water Environment Association of South Carolina’s Golden Manhole Award.
  • Elliott’s achievements include leading MetroConnects through historic consolidation beginning in 2020 that grew Metro’s customer base from approximately 46,000 to more than 99,000 active accounts.

Women in wastewater: Carol Elliott

Carol Elliott, Recognized as A Woman in Wastewater Pioneer

This Women’s History Month, MetroConnects is recognizing the contributions of our very own Women in Wastewater. Today, we celebrate Carol Elliott, MetroConnects’ General Manager! There were few women in the industry when Elliott began working in wastewater more than 30 years ago. Her insight and dedicated leadership has kept MetroConnects running in top condition, including through recent years of historic growth and county-wide infrastructure improvement projects.

Elliott has a long history in public service. She came to MetroConnects from the Gantt Fire, Police and Sewer District, where she served as the operations and maintenance manager. Prior to Gantt, Elliott worked with engineers and surveying consulting firms to provide sanitary sewer design for private development and public utilities. She joined in 2002 as a project manager. In 2012, she was promoted to assistant general manager, and named general manager in 2017. Elliott said she is drawn to the wastewater industry because of the value it provides. It serves a greater purpose through its impact on public health and the environment, she said, all while providing customers with reliable wastewater collection services.

Recently, Elliott’s contributions to the wastewater sector were recognized formally when she was honored with the Water Environment Association of South Carolina’s Golden Manhole Award. The award recognizes extraordinary efforts to promote professionalism and pride among those involved in water collection systems. “Every employee at Metro takes our responsibility to our customers and the environment very seriously,” Elliot said. “We work tirelessly to protect our public health and downstream drinking water sources and to do the best job we can to maintain infrastructure and keep wastewater in the pipes, flowing to treatment.” Join us in thanking Elliott for her service and congratulating her on a job well done.

Leading Historic Consolidation Across Greenville County

One of Elliott’s most outstanding achievements has been her deft management of the transfer and regionalization of six special purpose districts and one municipality into MetroConnects over the course of the last several years, with much of the work having been completed during a global pandemic.

The process began with a long period of public discussion with the Greenville County Council and the special purpose districts. Elliott was instrumental in bringing together a team of industry experts to provide a high-level overview of the individual sewer system conditions and financial investment required. This helped the Greenville County Council make an informed decision about the need for sanitary sewer collection regionalization, otherwise known as consolidation. The aim of consolidation is to allow for MetroConnects to capitalize on its assets and the knowledge and skills of its workforce to improve the wastewater infrastructure in Greenville County, ensuring safe, reliable, and environmentally sound wastewater collection. “Realizing the benefit Metro would bring to the county by providing our expertise and abilities to the other systems supported our readiness to ‘go to work’ in the other areas of the county,” Elliott said. “Our team has worked very hard to make it look easy because it was the right thing to do!”

Bringing Customers and Crew Together, New and Old

With the addition of the six sewer collection districts and the City of Travelers Rest, MetroConnects’ service area and customer base more than doubled since 2020. Metro’s gravity sewer system increased from 680 miles to more than 1,400 miles and from 46,000 customers to more than 99,000 customers. “We have realized so many economies of scale and we are providing a higher level of service to the customers, especially in those areas where the utilities did not take responsibility for the public laterals,” Elliott said of this growth. “We are also very thankful the employees have found a new home at Metro.” Since June of 2021, MetroConnects grew from 47 employees to more than 100 today. The merger of these sewer systems into Metro’s system, and the pace at which Metro’s system, customer base, and staff have grown, are unprecedented in South Carolina, and perhaps the nation. Elliott has welcomed both new and existing staff to the new era at MetroConnects, fostering a can-do attitude, a sense of connectivity, and a willingness to continue an excellent level of service. “Every member of our team is valuable and brings a special contribution to our work. MetroConnects has the best team in our business!” Elliott added.

This has been a historic moment for MetroConnects and for Greenville County, culminating years of continuous learning, perseverance, and patience by Elliott and her team. Elliott has ensured that the districts transferring their assets and the employees who begin service at MetroConnects were treated fairly and respectfully throughout the process. She works tirelessly with MetroConnects staff and consultants to preserve the integrity of MetroConnects’ provision of service and to build a plan that effectively enables MetroConnects to expand its service in Greenville County. “I am so excited to be a part of the amazing service we provide our customers. Together, Metro is making an incredible difference in the future of Greenville County by protecting our environment and public health as we proactively maintain our system.”