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LETTERS / Why Attendance At Tuesday’s Watauga County Commissioners Meeting Is Important

Dear Editor,

A Watauga County Commissioners’ meeting will be held on Tuesday, 17 December, at 6 PM.  The meeting is for the purpose of voting on a Beech Mountain water intake proposal, known as Watershed IV.  The meeting will take place at the Watauga County Administrative Office.  If the crowd is large the meeting may get moved to the 2nd floor courtroom at the Courthouse Building.

This Beech Mountain watershed reclassification request and water withdrawal is unwarranted, and the real aim of the request is opaque—as is by now the norm in Watauga County political shenanigans. 

Beech Mountain is currently consuming about four times per head more water than most other entities in Watauga County. The reason is that the water pipes in Beech Mountain leak like sieves. It definitely makes more sense to spend the money to repair the pipes; rather than tapping more water from the Watauga River. This is so obvious as to make one wonder about the real reason for tapping into the Watauga River. Beech Mountain has old, poorly maintained water lines that leak 67.2 million gallons per year,

They also have failing sewer lines that routinely pollute creeks with raw sewage. In 2013, they allowed at least 168,925 gallons of raw sewage to pollute public waterways.  If the Watauga County Commission agrees to reclassify the Watauga River and support the Beech Mountain water intake, it will increase the volume of water they can put into their leaky water lines. If more water is used by more people and businesses in Beech Mountain, it means more sewage will get put into a system that is already failing at current water use levels. So the bottom line is that more water equals more sewage spills.

Beech Mountain has 53 miles of leaking water lines and a failing sewage collection system.  They need to repair these before they are allowed to tap the Watauga River.

According to a 2012 estimate conducted by Beech Mountain itself, Beech Mountain has a water supply of 2.0 million gallons per day from 2012 through 2060.  Again, in 2012 Beech Mountain estimated that it would be using 18 percent of their current water supply in 2012.  Likewise, in 2012 Beech Mountain estimated that it would be using only 42 percent of the current water supply in 2060.  Lastly, Beech Mountain estimated in 2012 that it did not need additional water to meet their growth projections.

If Beech Mountain repaired their water distribution infrastructure—i.e., pipes—it would consume even much less water from current supplies than the 18 percent and the 42 percent.

The burning question is why Beech Mountain is pushing to tap the Watauga River.  This is where Watauga County shenanigans come into play.  We can add to this the Town of Boone shenanigans.  Has anyone noticed how silent Boone politicians have been on this issue?

In point of fact, both Boone and Watauga have been itching to tap into area rivers for a long time, for the purpose of increasing and controlling economic growth in Boone and its surrounding areas.  The plan is to have Beech Mountain sell the excess water to Boone and Watauga developers.  Boone would gain and Watauga developers would gain. 

Dear reader, guess who would lose.  Why the rural areas of Watauga County, including farmers and outdoorsmen.

Nate DiCola