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County Requests Extension for Water Reserve To Market Old WHS, Boone Asks For Verification on GPD Figures

By Jesse Wood

Sept. 27, 2013. With the Town of Boone’s proposed intake project taking much longer than projected, the Boone Town Council will likely extend the expiration date of Ordinance 11-01, which controls the amount of water allocated to new projects within the town and is set to expire at the end of the year.

The expiration date coincides with the expiration date of the amount of water that the Town of Boone has allocated for the old Watauga High School property, which is owned by Watauga County and has been on the market for several years. Currently, the town allocates 150,000 gallons per day for the site.

Recently, Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque sent a letter to Boone officials, inquiring about the status of the allocation and the “possibility of increasing the 150,000 gallons per day allocation.” Geouque noted that the water reserve for the property is instrumental in selling the old WHS site.

On Wednesday, the Water Use Committee and the Boone Town Council addressed the letter at a Water Use Committee meeting and unanimously voted to direct staff to draft a letter requesting that Watauga County “verify” how much water is actually needed for developers to build out projects on the old Watauga High School in the future.

Committee Member Patrick Beville noted that the committee was willing to assist the county in making the property more marketable by extending a reasonable allocation but before moving forward they would need to see how the county calculated future water needs for proposed developments on the old WHS site.

Beville noted that he had a conversation with county personnel that Watauga County “calculated wrong” and didn’t need nearly 150,000 gallons per day allocated. Beville said, from his conversations with personnel, that the county didn’t apply a 60 percent reduction to water usage numbers of N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ discharge rate schedule.

“How much does the property need realistically?” Beville asked, noting that to have an arbitrary water reserve that wouldn’t be used would be “crazy.”

“We’ve got to be careful,” Beville said.