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Beech Mountain Town Council Approves Plan to Draw Water from the Watauga River

By Nathan Ham

The Beech Mountain Town Council met last Tuesday and unanimously approved a plan that would pull water from the Watauga River to act as a water supply for the town as needed.

The discussion came about after the town has been working on putting a plan together in case of drought. The town’s main water supply, Buckeye Lake, has had dips in water levels during dry spells that have forced residents to cut back on water usage during those periods of dry weather.

According to interim town manager Bob Pudney, he felt like the meeting went well.

“The purpose of the meeting was to bring the town council up to speed on the issues facing the town related to water supply. We touched on everything from various options for water including wells, increasing the dam, purchasing water from somewhere else and purchasing water tankers during drought,” Pudney said. “The perception is that it is a water grab and we were doing this for growth. That’s not the case. It’s not a daily supply for the town, it would be used only in drought. We estimated 60 days out of the year that we would draw water out of the river through this intake.”

There have been some citizens that voiced their concern over pulling water from the Watauga River, however, Pudney feels like the meeting did a good job to counter “a lot of misinformation and bad information floating around out there.”

“After we presented all the facts and information, I have heard that people went away much better informed and some of their concerns were addressed. From my perspective, with the outreach to the community, it allowed them to see that we want a transparent process and hopefully answered some of the concerns they had about the Watauga River,” added Pudney. “We tried to address those issues head-on, giving clear and concise answers. This is a huge project for the town and very expensive; it’s going to require the state and county to be involved with permitting. We want nothing but the best for the Watauga River.”

The proposal is to construct a water intake at the Watauga River just off of Guy Ford Road to act as a secondary water source. In addition to times of drought, the water source would come in necessary should there be a chemical spill in the Buckeye Lake reservoir or mechanical failures such as a pump breakdown. Beech Mountain had to deal with an equipment failure at the reservoir in 2018 when the drain valve failed and resulted in major water loss at the reservoir.