The date for the final hearing on the Asheville water lawsuit: May 23rd. We expect a ruling within 30 days after that. Whichever side loses is almost certain to appeal.


A bit of historical context on the the roots of the Asheville/Buncombe water disputes: Boom and bust real estate cycles going back to the 1920s.


Filed on Feb. 27th: The State of North Carolina's Motion for Summary Judgement in the lawsuit over control of Asheville's water system, makes a very peculiar assertion: that the 'Water Act' applies to Greenville NC, as well. 

The cornerstone of the City's case is that the law is unconstitutional, since it targets only one city's water system - Asheville. Enter the shenanigans we dubbed "The Greenville Gambit". Towards the end of the 2013 session of the NCGA, an amendment to the water seizure law started springing up in unrelated bills, presumably introduced by Rep. Tim Moffitt or his allies. Intended to remove one of the three criteria in the law that make it apply only to Ashevillle, it would have had the effect of making it apply to one other NC municipality: Greenville. The obvious intent of this was to undermine one aspect of Asheville's lawsuit.

The City of Greenville and their reps in the House and Senate were not pleased, and their opposition blocked the amendments. At the last minute, though, they appeared to agree to a compromise, and what got introduced by Greenvile Rep. Brian Brown to the "Amend Interbasin Transfer Act" was a two-part amendment to the Asheville law, that at first made it apply to Greenville, but then under a new set of criteria, made it not apply to Greenville. We all scratched our heads, but given that the two amendments together appeared to leave Greenville off the chopping block, it passed easily and became law. 


Now, seven months later, the next shoe drops:

The State Motion made on Feb. 27th acts as if the second part of that amendment does not exist, and that Greenville will soon be forced to surrender their water system to a forced regionalization, same as Asheville!

"If Greenville's and Pitt County's populations continue to grow at this rate, it is reasonably foreseeable that Section 1(a) of the Act will apply to the Greenville water system in the near future."


No one who has read this Motion can yet make sense of how the State intends to convince Judge Manning that the second part of the Greenville amendment does not mean what everyone else believes it means. And no public reaction as of yet from Greenville or her representatives in the NCGA, but they cannot be pleased. 

A hearing before Judge Manning in Wake County is expected sometime in April, and a ruling at the Superior Court level is expected in May. Stay tuned...



March 17th Save the date! "What Next For Asheville's Water?" Mountain Voices Alliance, SaveOurWaterWNC, Clean Water for North Carolina, Asheville PARC and the WNC Alliance will co-sponsor an educational forum on the Asheville water issue, including an update on the status of the lawsuit and other issues affecting the future of water in our region.

Speakers will include Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer, Clean Water for NC Asst. Director Katie Hicks, and Barry Summers of SaveOurWaterWNC.

March 17th, 6 - 7:30 pm. at Lord Auditorium, Pack Library, downtown Asheville. Download the press release here.


Jan. 28th, 2014 Update on the lawsuit over the seizure of Asheville's Water System: The 120-day discovery period laid out in Judge Howard Manning's order of last October has ended. The date of the next hearing on the lawsuit depends on whether any of the parties (City of Asheville, State of NC, Buncombe County MSD) file any motions related to the case. Each would require a delay to allow the other parties to respond. The window for when the next hearing in Raleigh on the lawsuit could occur is early March to mid-April. It's expected that a Summary Judgment ruling at Judge Manning's Superior Court level would occur no later than mid-May. Whichever side prevails, appeals are likely. Further updates as they happen...

Dec. 19th The Nation magazine has recognized the "Mountain Moral Monday" event in August as the "Most Valuable Protest" in America during 2103. Thanks go to SaveOurWaterWNC members Elaine, Heather, Valerie, Beth, the NAACP, and all the local and regional groups that cooperated to put on this nationally-recognized event of civic activism.

  Nov. 13th: Rep. Tim Moffitt is assigned co-Chair of a new committee, the Public Enterprise System & Use of Funds Study Committee. From his press release:
The Public Enterprise System & Use of Funds Study Committee is charged with looking at the allowable uses of government-owned corporation funds and then making recommendations to the General Assembly to ensure transparency, proper funding and the improved management of public enterprises run by local governments. Public enterprises are business organizations owned by the state (such as airports, transportation systems and sewer or water systems) that are controlled by a public authority.

"Essentially, we have a system today where the fox is guarding the henhouse,” commented Rep. Moffitt. “Given the potential for the abuse and misuse of such a system, it’s only prudent that we study this issue and ensure best practices are in place to protect both the ratepayers and the taxpayers." 

Two issues of concern: The argument underlying the intent of this committee is pretty clear – all through the debate about the Asheville water system, we heard that the City is “stealing” revenue from the ratepayers every year, to support it’s general fund. The fact that the amount diverted from the ratepayer revenues goes to cover the City’s cost of managing the water system never seemed to penetrate the talking point, even when GOP Rep. Chuck McGrady tried to stop the spreading of that (in his words) "very bad information".  Continuing that argument on a statewide level suggests that there may emerge legislation intended to prevent municipalities from recovering the full costs of operating enterprise fund activities like water, sewer, transportation systems, etc., placing further economic strain on local governments, and theoretically making the option of privatizing public infrastructure more attractive.

The second, somewhat more worrying issue: "Public enterprises are business organizations owned by the state". Are Rep. Moffitt and others in the GOP leadership preparing to assert that municipalities do not even own the public infrastructure they built and operate? This radical concept was introduced during the Asheville water debate. The argument goes, that since the system was funded almost exclusively through ratepayer revenue, the City could not claim to "own" it - it belongs to the "ratepayers". This concept has never been tested in court, but Rep. Moffitt appears to be asserting it as if it had, and that it applies statewide to any infrastructure operated by local governments as a "public enterprise."

Nov. 13th:  NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources Deputy Director Mitch Gillespie tells the Environmental Review Commission, a joint NC House and Senate body, that there is a "possible basin" for natural gas shale deposits in Western North Carolina and that DENR is "going to go out there" and start exploring. This could represent major news on the fracking front - previously, all potential NC gas shale deposits were believed to be in the central/eastern part of the state. Water usage is a major component of the controversial nature of hydraulic fracturing, and the possibility of fracking coming to WNC puts the fight over Asheville's water system in a new light.


Oct. 9th: As expected, the Judge in the Asheville water lawsuit has persuaded the parties to dispense with the preliminaries and go straight to Summary Judgement. The rulings on motions from the State and the City will be dismissed, and instead we will have a final hearing (on the Superior Court level at least), sometime in Feb. or March.

Read Judge Howard Manning’s “Stipulated Case Management Order” here.


Sept. 14th: Using language similar to the justification of the seizure of Asheville's water system, Watauga County officials and State Rep. Jonathan Jordan confirm they are considering the creation of a regional water system, which would require the Town of Boone to surrender control of their water to the County.
 "There will be opposition," Blust said. "But water is going to be like gold - whoever has the water has the control and the power, and I just don't want that to get in the wrong hands. I'd rather that be in the elected body of the county rather than just one town."


Sept. 6th: Preliminary injunction hearing on Asheville's lawsuit against the State seizure of their water system. Judge Manning has said he will take as many as 30 days to rule on permanently blocking the takeover as the case moves through the courts. The Temporary Restraining Order holds through Oct. 14th.  Listen to Barry's report from immediately after the hearing on Jeff Messer's 880 am radio show (timestamp 3:45)

AC-T story by Mark Barrett

NC Policy Watch/Progressive Pulse story by Rob Schofield
 

Aug. 11 Mountain XPress reports on Rep. Moffitt's comments that leaving Asheville out of the County-wide Culture and Recreation Authority was explicitly in retaliation for fighting back on the water issue.

Barry's remarks on the water issue at the Mountain Moral Monday event.

Mountain Moral Monday was a huge success. Estimates range between 5000 and 10,000 people - the largest political event in WNC in recent memory. See the trailer for the upcoming documentary here.


August 5th Rep. Tim Moffitt tells the Asheville Board of Realtors that he & the other legislators who crafted the Buncombe County Culture & Recreation Authority bill, kept the City of Asheville from joining the CRA explicitly because they filed a lawsuit over the seizure of their water system. This confirms earlier reports that this threat was levied against the City, but was denied at the time by these same legislators.


Update!! For the second time, attorneys for the State of North Carolina have asked for & received a delay in the start of the lawsuit over Asheville's water. The new date is September 6th, 2013. The Temporary Restraining Order still prevents the seizure of the water system and watershed owned by the City of Asheville.


August 5th Mountain Moral Monday. Co-sponsored by SaveOurWaterWNC, western North Carolina joins the protests against radical legislation coming out of Raleigh, including the takeover of our water. NC NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II will speak, along with a myriad of local and regional voices (including Barry of SaveOurWaterWNC). Aug. 5th, Pack Square in downtown Asheville, 5 - 6:30. Details here.

July 17th Senate Bill 341 did indeed appear on the House calendar today, and was amended by the delegation from Greenville. However, instead of removing the provision that threatened to draw them into the Asheville water dispute, they added a section to S.L. 2013-50 (the Asheville water seizure law):

 "SECTION 1.(g) For purposes of this section, a public water system shall not include any system that is operated simultaneously with a sewer system by the same public body, in conjunction with the provision of other utility services for its customers."
“SECTION 1.(g) For purposes of this section, a public water system shall not include any system that is operated simultaneously with a sewer system by the same public body, in conjunction with the provision of other utility services for its customers.” - See more at: http://scrutinyhooligans.us/2013/07/15/they-finally-got-their-tax-deal/comment-page-1/#comment-100315
“SECTION 1.(g) For purposes of this section, a public water system shall not include any system that is operated simultaneously with a sewer system by the same public body, in conjunction with the provision of other utility services for its customers.” - See more at: http://scrutinyhooligans.us/2013/07/15/they-finally-got-their-tax-deal/comment-page-1/#comment-100315
Since Greenville does in fact operate a sewer system alongside it's water system, they are now excluded from the potential seizure of the water system. So, the provision that repealed a portion of the Asheville water seizure law, in an attempt to undermine the City's pending lawsuit, is still in the bill. But the new provision still excludes Greenville from future forced consolidation, so it's unclear why the amendment was put forward at all. The Asheville seizure law is unconstitutional, because it applies only to one city's water system. Making Greenville also appear to be vulnerable to forced consolidation, was the intent of the original S341 amendment. Simply changing the method whereby Greenville is excluded, makes no sense.
S341 is on the Senate calendar for concurrence on July 19th. Stay tuned...


July 9th Senate Bill 341, the "Amend Interbasin Transfer Law" bill, has the same amendment that drags Greenville into the Asheville water dispute. It was voted through the House Environment Committee on June 20th, but has not yet been "reported out" to the full House. It can re-appear as a viable bill at any time. A scanned version of the bill, and the summary, can be seen here. Additionally, Senate Bill 112, the companion bill to H94, has appeared on the agenda for Rep. Tim Moffitt's House Govt. Reform Committee. It will come up 10 am Wednesday the 10th. Expect provisions ranging from fracking to the 'Greenville Amendment' to appear there as well. Listen to the hearing at 10 am Wed. the 10th here.


July 8th Greenville Daily Reflector editorial on the resolution of their involuntary involvement in the Asheville water dispute:

"The overreach exhibited in this case cannot be allowed to stand, and this city should be a vocal proponent of Asheville as it continues this fight."


July 3rd Asheville Citizen-Times story on resolution of the Greenville issue. (link here - subscription) (full text here.)

“I think that it is evidence how strong that challenge is to the constitutionality of the Asheville water bill,” said Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer. “When the legislature tries to run over another community in its effort to bolster its case ... that’s telling in itself.”
"Rep. Tim Moffitt, a Buncombe County Republican who is the primary proponent of the Asheville water system transfer, would not say why or by whom the language affecting Greenville was inserted into the environmental amendments bill.

"Rep. Chuck McGrady, a Henderson County Republican who backs the transfer, is a co-sponsor of the environmental amendments bill. He could not be reached for comment Monday or Tuesday."
...
"Manheimer and Barry Summers, an Asheville activist opposing the transfer, both said the attempt to change the water transfer law highlights a problem with the other side’s case.
“It’s very clear the only reason that this has been inserted into this bill is that they know that the seizure of Asheville’s water system is unconstitutional,” Summers said."

July 2nd With the entire leadership of the town of Greenville looking down from the gallery, the Senate voted unanimously to remove the line in House Bill 94 that would have dragged them into the Asheville water dispute. How will Reps. Moffitt, Ramsey, and McGrady make the seizure of Asheville's water appear to be constitutional now? Stay tuned.


June 28th Greenville NC discovers that due to a provision in H94, they too could be subject to a forced surrender of their water system. (original article - subscription required) (full text) (editorial: Hands Off Water System). 

June 24th Co-sponored by Rep. Chuck McGrady,  H94, "Amend Environmental Laws 2013" amends more than just environmental laws:

"SECTION 34. Section 1(a)(2) of S.L. 2013-50 is repealed." 

S.L. 2013-50 is the 'Seize Asheville's Water' legislation, which is under legal challenge by the City of Asheville. The section that H94 intends to repeal is one of the key criteria that restrict the forced consolidation to only apply to Asheville. Repealing this section after it was put in place to gain the votes necessary for passage, is solely intended to weaken the City's lawsuit.


  Save the Date!! June 24th Save Our Water WNC goes to Raleigh, to join the NC NAACP Moral Monday protest in front of the NC General Assembly!! Tell our legislators Hands Off Our Water!! $20 roundtrip to Raleigh is being arranged - Download the flyer with all details here

ATTENTION. Both our buses are now filled. There's a chance that some seats may open up on the bus, but from this point on, we are no longer taking payments for the round-trip to Raleigh. Come to the departure point at Innsbruck Mall on Tunnel Rd. at 10 am. Monday to see if bus seats have become available, or to arrange carpool/caravans. Questions?  Contact us at saveourwaterwnc@gmail.com


June 6th: E-mails released by the City of Asheville show that NC Reps. Moffitt, McGrady, and Ramsey (sponsors of H488, the bill seizing Asheville's water), have been secretly pressuring the City to, in the words of the Vice-Mayor, "settle the lawsuit or else". Threats reportedly include legislation delaying scheduled 2013 City Council and Mayoral elections for a full year.



June 4th: The General Assembly passes H252, the "Asheville Tranfers" bill. This legislation repeals the City of Asheville's ability to use water revenues to repair streets and sidewalks related to water system maintenance. This takes that amount off the ledger of costs/savings resulting from a merger of the water system with MSD. The last veil is pulled aside: the merger will lead to higher costs and eventually higher rates for water.




May 20th: City of Asheville petitions NC Superior Court Judge Howard Manning Jr. for a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of H488 during trial of civil lawsuit. Read the City's suit against the State of North Carolina and the Metropolitan Sewerage District here.
 


May 14th: H488, the "Regionalization of Public Utilities" becomes law without the Governor's signature. The City of Asheville has filed suit, and has been granted a Temporary Restraining Order to block implementation of the forced transfer of their water system.



May 7th: Asheville City Council passes resolution authorizing legal action if water/sewerage merger bill should become law.


April 24th 1 pm. Listen to the NC Senate Finance Committee discussion of H488, "The Regionalization of Public Utilities" here.



April 9th, 8:30 am NC House Finance Committee considers H488, the "Regionalization of Public Utitlities Act".

April 5th At a breakfast for Asheville area business and political leaders, Rep. Tim Moffitt tacitly acknowledges that studies have shown there will be no savings to ratepayers from a forced transfer of Asheville's water system. (audio clip here)

"Rep. Moffitt... The MSD report clearly suggests that a merger will actually cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $600,000 annually, and that's on top of the $2 million hit to the City of Asheville. Given that, can you still claim that a merger will actually save money?"

"Thank you Barry. The answer to that is yes. But I would tell you that neither you nor I have the gift of predicting the future. So studies are exactly what they are, numbers are exactly what they are, but consolidating these three public enterprises is the right thing to do for our region..."
The bill sponsors now have absolutely nothing to base their claims of "savings" to ratepayers on, and in fact, all of the studies now show that there will be no savings, only red ink, from a forced merger. And that's before any talk of compensation to the City for their 100s of millions of dollars worth of seized assets.


Mar. 28th In a bill that does not mention "Asheville" even once, NC Reps. Moffitt, McGrady, and Ramsey initiate the unprecedented State theft of a municipal water system, and the City-owned watershed that feeds it. After seizing the assets belonging to the City of Asheville, the "Regionalization of Public Utilities" bill sets up a new category of State-chartered agency that could be established in any County in North Carolina: one that municipalities could then be forced to turn over their water or sewer assets to without compensation. Asheville is clearly the test case in a "watershed moment" for North Carolina, one that will determine: do the people control their local water and infrastructure, or does it belong to The State? Ladies and gentlemen, start your lawyers!

City of Asheville releases analysis of the impact of losing the Sullivan Act Transfers.
  • HB 252 would harm regional economic development efforts
  • HB 252 would limit investment in transportation infrastructure
  • Revenues have been used judiciously for regional investment
  • Water system continues to demonstrate strong financial performance
  • Asheville has not diverted revenue from the water system to subsidize its general fund.


Mar. 26: After criticism by local activists & at least one Council member, XPress issues revised story that acknowledges $4 million annual cost to City taxpayers from forced merger. Still no mention at all of likely compensation or watershed lease costs (previously reported by XPress), which would send merger costs significantly into the red for ratepayers.


Mar. 21: Asheville's Mountain XPress reports on the final report of the MSD impact study, repeats the fallacy that a forced merger will produce "potential net savings to water customers of $1.1 to $2.2 million per year over the next nine years."
The only way such "savings" will occur for water customers is if the City of Asheville voluntarily relinquishes the water system and 22,000 acre watershed for not one thin dime of compensation, and if the City's budget can absorb an annual loss of $4 million revenue without serious tax increases for the 62% of water customers who are also City residents.


Mar. 6th: Reps. Moffitt, McGrady, and Ramsey introduce legislation repealing the 'Sullivan Act Transfers'. The Sullivan Transfers allow the City of Asheville to use up to 5% of water revenues for street and sidewalk repairs related to water system maintenance. Losing the transfers will cost Asheville taxpayers approx. $1.5 million annually. Is this merely one more whack at the City, or is this a sign that Reps. Moffitt & McGrady have abandoned their intention to seize Asheville's water system?


Feb 26th. Rep. Tim Moffitt co-sponsors legislation to create an "Infrastructure Oversight Commission".
If your goal was to set the State of North Carolina on a path to privatize public infrastructure, this is how you would do it. Background, ALEC connections, suppositions, etc. here.

Feb 22nd: Greensboro News&Record Op-Ed by Barry Summers: The time is now for North Carolina towns and cities to adopt the League of Municipalities resolution opposing such seizures, and for citizens to contact their legislators to oppose this radical reshaping of our shared resources.

Feb 6th: Charlotte Airport may be stripped from the City's control by the General Assembly, placed under independent authority. Asheville losing it's airport last summer in a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Tim Moffitt is cited as a clear precedent. Still think the seizure of Asheville's water system will not lead to other seizures?...
The House bill stripping the Charlotte airport from the City of Charlotte is co-sponsored by... a majority of the Asheville water Study Committee members including Rep. Tim Moffitt. 


Feb. 5th: Prominent Asheville Republican and former Mayor Lou Bissette comes out against water merger. WCQS David Hurand interview. Listen here. (timestamp 22:00)


Feb. 2nd: SaveOurWaterWNC goes to NC Dem. Executive Committee meeting, Durham.


NEW! Representative Tim Moffitt confirms that he sees the seizure of Asheville's water system as a statewide precedent:
 "Moffitt, also contacted after the meeting, said that municipalities shouldn’t be concerned about owning water systems. That is because as public utilities, systems should be thought of as independent services for ratepayers. And any debt from building a system would be carried by ratepayers, not city taxpayers, the South Buncombe legislator said."


Breaking: City of Asheville announces temporary water discoloration due to scheduled inspection of water mains. Read the documents describing the process, scheduling, and purpose of this inspection here. Read the August 14, 2012 City Council minutes authorizing this workhere.


Jan. 24th: North Carolina League of Municipalities chooses their #1 Advocacy Goal for 2013: "Oppose legislation that weakens or removes local control over public utility systems, specifically including municipal water and/or sewer systems."



NC Cities/Towns that so far have placed the NC League of Municipalities resolution Opposing the Forced Transfer of Municipal-Owned Water Systems on the agenda and/or passed it: 

1 Albemarle, City 15,903 01/07/2013
2 Asheville, City 83,393 12/11/2012
3 Bald Head Island Village 162 01/18/2013
4 Banner Elk, Town 1,046 01/14/2013
5 Bessemer City, City 5,340 01/14/2013
6 Black Mountain 7,848 01/25/2013
7 Bladenboro, Town 1,627 01/14/2013
8 Blowing Rock, Town 1,241 01/08/2013
9 Boiling Spring Lakes, City 5,506 03/05/2013
10 Burgaw, Town* 3,898 02/12/2013
11 Butner, Town 6,344 01/03/2013
12 Carrboro, Town 19,582 01/15/2013
13 Carthage, Town 2,269 01/15/2013
14 Chadbourn, Town 2,117 01/08/2013
15 Chapel Hill 57,233 02/27/2013
16 Claremont, City 1,114 01/07/2013
17 Concord, City 79,066 01/10/2013
18 Conover, City 8,165 01/07/2013
19 Elkin, Town 4,211 01/14/2013
20 Foxfire Village 572 01/08/2013
21 Franklin, Town 3,882 01/07/2013
22 Goldsboro, City 36,437 01/07/2013
23 Greensboro, City 273,425 04/03/2013
24 Havelock, City 20,735 01/14/2013
25 Haw River, Town 2,052 01/14/2013
26 Henderson, City 15,386 01/28/2013
27 Hendersonville, City 13,137 Tabled on 01/03/2013
28 High Point, City* 105,753 On 04/15/2013 Agenda
29 Jacksonville, City 70,145 01/07/2013
30 Kannapolis, City 44,104 01/15/2013
31 Kill Devil Hills, Town 6,683 01/14/2013
32 King, City 6,599 01/07/2013
33 Kure Beach, Town 2,200 01/15/2013
34 Lexington, City 18,931 01/14/2013
35 Maggie Valley 1,152 02/12/2013
36 Maiden, Town 3,433 01/07/2013
37 Matthews, Town 28,634 01/28/2013
38 Montreat, Town 714 Tabled on 01/10/2013
39 Mooresville, Town 32,711 01/07/2013
40 Murphy, Town 1,632 01/07/2013
41 Newton, City 12,968 01/08/2013
42 North Wilkesboro, Town 4,176 01/08/2013
43 Ocean Isle, Town 564 01/08/2013
44 Oxford, City 9,426 01/08/2013
45 Ramseur, Town 1,702 02/04/2013
46 Reidsville, City 14,473 03/13/2013
47 Rutherford College, Town 1,305 01/07/2013
48 Seven Devils, Town 146 01/08/2013
49 Smithfield, Town 10,966 01/03/2013
50 Spindale, Town 3,865 01/21/2013
51 Statesville, City 24,532 01/14/2013
52 Tarboro, Town 10,383 01/14/2012
53 Topsail Beach, Town 374 02/13/2013
54 Troutman, Town 2,392 01/10/2013
55 Winston Salem, City 299,617 03/25/2013
*Pending City Clerk confirmation


Raleigh/Durham's Indyweek includes Asheville situation in rundown of emerging State Govt. trend: "The Environment Could Take a Beating", by Lisa Sorg.
 

MSD breakdown shows that City of Asheville comprises 60% of MSD customers, pays 80% of the bills, yet if Rep. McGrady follows through on plans to give Henderson County 3 seats on MSD Board, Asheville representation will drop to 20%.

Rumor Control: Rep. Chuck McGrady urges people to stop spreading "very bad information" ie, that the "City of Asheville is robbing their water system, even now, after Sullivan." After acknowledging that the City has presented verifiable water revenue accounting that disproves this, he says that "we need to get some group of people to stop talking about that." Is he talking about you?


Barry interviewed by Ned Ryan Doyle for Our Southern Community. Download entire show here.

Greensboro News & Record Editorial: Asheville Water Fight Bears Close Watching
"Asheville is fighting to keep its municipal water system and avoid a soaking. But the state legislature has the last word. Other cities should tune in to this drama playing out in the water-wealthy mountain community." 



NC League of Municipalities: Sample resolution opposing the forced transfer of municipal-owned water systems.
 




Barry on Local Edge Radio 880 am, 12/27/12
  • Thanks are due to Local Edge host Blake Butler for years of service to the Asheville community - we wish him luck in all his future endeavors.

City of Asheville staff release memo that suggests: "if Cane Creek merger happens, City/MSD will end up subsidizing Henderson development."


video courtesy Jerry Rice
NC Governor-elect McCrory promises to

come to Asheville immediately after his

inauguration to "help resolve" the water 

issue.  





MSD Board acknowledges

possible $26 million costs in

upgrading/integrating Henderson

County sewer with Buncombe

County sewer. Costs will likely

be paid by Buncombe ratepayers.






Asheville City Council unanimously

passes resolution opposing forced

transfer of water system. 




City of Asheville releases two studies:

WLOS coverage of the 'Defending Our Water' 

Action, including reaction from Governor-elect Pat

McCrory.


Asheville Citizen-Times coverage, including

 reporting on City's financial analysis.

Mountain XPress coverage.


Barry on Local Edge Radio 880am, 12/03/12 


Barry on Pete Kaliner Show 570am, 12/03/12  (starts at 15:10) 



Defending Our Water’ Action: Taking It to the GOP
 
Saturday, Dec. 8 starting at 4:30 pm

Last month on Election Day, 86% of Asheville voters said 'No' to the idea of selling or leasing the Asheville water system. In fact, as AC-T op-ed writer John Miall commented after the election, "I can't remember a time when 86% of Asheville voters agreed on anything. Talk about a mandate."  

In spite of these results, the NC legislature is sharpening knives in anticipation of carving up the water system come January.  If allowed to happen, this would be an unprecedented state government action that should send fear statewide into every community. 

On Saturday, December 8, the leaders of the North Carolina GOP, including Governor-elect Pat McCrory, will be gathering at the Grove Park Inn for the annual Charles Taylor Republican fundraiser. 

Join us beginning at 4:30 pm as we gather in protest on the corner of Charlotte St. and Macon Ave. to raise the visibility of the water issue before the very legislators who will be voting on this matter. This is your chance to be seen and heard – as well as provide a citizen face in opposition to the taking of Asheville's water system by legislative fiat. We will create a line of voters stretching up Macon Ave. with signs and messages relating to the water issue. We expect to conclude once the Republican fundraiser begins between 7-7:30 pm.

You are welcome to create and bring your own signs or some pre-made ones will be available. Please keep your messages strong, focused and on the high ground without mentioning specific legislators names. Let’s be the change we want to see. Some ideas include:

86% Say NO to Water Grab or Hands OFF Buncombe Water

PLEASE reach out to your personal networks and invite them to join the rally by forwarding this message to your e-mail list, Facebook friends, and neighbors. Families with children are welcome and encouraged. Numbers count!

SUGGESTIONS: chairs are welcome; bring flashlights and signs; wear reflective or light-colored clothing; water if needed.



Previous posts moved to History page.

The Process





The first meeting of this committee is Jan. 23rd, in Raleigh. Public comment will not be allowed. The City Council of Asheville and the MSD have put together a Task Force to present the current state of the water system to the 'water committee', at this first meeting. A total of four hearings are allowed under the General Assembly's mandate - at least one will happen in Asheville, with the first potentially in February.

It could happen pretty quickly after that - they have until April, but they don't have to take that long. Anytime after the fourth hearing, the committee could put forward legislation for the full House to consider, and it could become law by summer 2012.


The 'water committee' led by Rep. Tim Moffitt: Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System Committee.

These are the issues that the 'water/study committee' has been charged (pg.5) to look at while deciding the future of Asheville's water system:
 
  1. Financial stability of the current systems on a historic basis and the anticipated financial stability of a combined system.
  2. Cost-benefit analysis of a combined system, including a review of assets and liabilities; personnel needs; equipment and infrastructure replacement schedules; facilities leased and owned; and fee schedules.
  3. Debt obligation.
  4. Taxpayer investment in the systems.
  5. Audit of current financials.
  6. Comparative analysis of the current system to existing public and private systems.             (emphasis mine)
  7. Conservation and water efficiency practices.
  8. Best management practices.
  9. The disposition of property in Article 12 of Chapter 160A of the General Statutes as it relates to the conveyance of a water system.
  10. The transfer of permits when a water system is conveyed.
  11. Any local acts applicable to the city or metropolitan sewerage district.
  12. Other items the Commission deems relevant to the study.



Raleigh News & Observer article re: NC Legislators who attended the American Legislative Exchange Council's annual conference in 2011
SourceWatch page on the activities of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance and Economic Development Task Force 
From the 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting Program: "A few of the issues that the Task Force will be considering at Annual Meeting include: public-private partnerships, a national infrastructure bank, long-term asset management, and multiple award schedule contracts... the Task Force meeting will (also) host a panel on effective privatization: 'Tapping the Private Sector to Save Money and Improve Performance.'"
"Model" Bills introduced at the meeting include:
  • Member, Private Sector Chair of Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, proposed "Establishing a Public-Private Partnership (P3) Authority Act" (adopted) at Commerce, Insurance & Economic Development Task Force meeting and Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee meeting at 2011 ALEC Annual Meeting, August 5, 2011

 Read more on the Privatization? page.

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