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Boone plans special session to discuss water intake project

Originally published: Mar. 21, 2013
Last modified: Mar. 21, 2013

Adam Orr

On March 28, the Town of Boone’s Water Use Committee will hold a public meeting to discuss concerns surrounding the town’s proposed water intake project on Brownwood Road in Todd.

The meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. in the town council chambers at 1500 Blowing Rock Road, and include discussion of anticipated legislative action, and permit status, of the proposed New River water intake project, as well as discussion of the actual versus predicted water usage numbers.

In February, federal authorities halted Boone’s proposed water intake project after Boone failed to provide Ashe County with documents authorities said the county needed to make an informed decision on the water intake project’s impact, according to emails provided by Ashe County Manager Pat Mitchell on Feb. 10.

The action came after several attempts by Mitchell to gain information on the project from Town of Boone officials, following a Nov. 13, 2012, conference call that also included Ashe County Emergency Management Coordinator Patty Gambill, and officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the North Carolina State Division of Emergency Management (NCDEM).

“As a result of that phone call, FEMA directed the NCDEM to go back to Boone and obtain updated maps/plans/information and provide them to my office,” said Mitchell.

Mitchell said she later contacted NCDEM on Jan. 10 that she had received no information from Boone in the nearly two months since the conference call. Mitchell also said three emails were also sent to NCDEM with no response.

“A request was (then) made to the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Public Safety - the attached letters are the result of that contact,” according to Mitchell. “The letters, in summary, state that FEMA is not moving ahead with the water intake project as the Town of Boone has not provided the information that Ashe County needs to make an informed decision about signing the MT-2 form, and Ashe County’s signature, as an 'impacted community,' is necessary to move ahead.”

In October 2012, Mitchell contacted Boone Town Manager Greg Young in an attempt to clear up uncertainty surrounding the intake project - including a proposed access road that could enter Ashe County.

Mitchell requested a meeting with Young to obtain current maps and plans for the intake project, according to an Oct. 19 email, including the access road, and the route of the plant’s proposed transmission line.

Young’s response came six days later in an Oct. 25 email.

“At this time, the rights-of-ways on Brownwood Road are still in the early stage of acquisition,” wrote Young. “As far as your remaining questions go, I'm unable to provide any definite responses at this time other than reiterating that the town of Boone does not own any real property or any property interest in Ashe County, and would not attempt to acquire one without the Ashe County Commissioner's approval.”

Young further wrote, “I'm not sure that meeting will be beneficial to you as I don't think I would be at liberty to provide the information you're seeking. Is the county reconsidering their position on this matter? I don't understand why you're asking these questions now.”

The 4 million gallon-per-day raw water intake facility is planned for a 10-acre site on the South Fork of the New River between Todd and Brownwood in Watauga County and will transport water to Boone's water treatment plant via a transmission line along Brownwood Road and Highway 421.

The deed for the sale of the 10-acre property guarantees the town a 45-foot-wide, 3,000-foot-long right-of-way and easement on adjacent land owned by the Cooper family from the water intake property in Watauga County to Cranberry Springs Road in Ashe County for an access road to the water intake site.

For more information and stories, see Ashe Mountain Times.