By Rebecca Gitlen
June 18, 2012. State Rep. Jonathan Jordan, of District 93, Ashe and Watauga counties, filed a bill in the N.C. House of Representatives to “Disapprove New River Basin Rule.” The rule refers to the state’s classification of water that would be used on the New River for Boone’s water intake project as Water Supply (WS) IV.
The WS IV rating means the water is high quality resource water eligible for intakes. That area of the river wasn’t classified before, said Councilman Andy Ball.
House Bill 1227, proposed Thursday would stop the four million gallon-per-day water intake project at the South Fork of the New River.
“We’ve been working at this for about six years,” Ball said. “The permit process has taken four years and several public hearings.”
Currently there are at least two intakes already on the river, but those against the intake project don’t want the river disturbed any further, Ball said.
People that are for the project, or against the bill, recognize the need for new water intakes.
The National Committee for the New River has endorsed the idea of the intake project because the reclassification comes with protections for the river and water quality. Waste retention centers, cows and other harms to the river would be subject to a buffer zone.
Water taken from the river would be used, treated and put back in the river, Ball said.
The only discussion of contaminants is a national one: pharmaceutical pollution. This issue is being addressed with the county’s Drug Take-Back day to get citizens to dispose of expired prescriptions in an environmentally safe way, Ball said.
The city is currently at about 63 to 65 percent of water usage as a result of economic downturn and conservation measures like Every Drop Counts to get people to quit watering their lawns and running the sink while brushing their teeth.
In the next three to five years, the town should be at the 70 to 80 percent mark for water usage, Ball said.
“This intake is vital to the town’s goal of bringing potable water to citizens,” Ball said.
On Friday, Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson issued a statement calling on citizens to ask their state representatives to withdraw the bill.
“If this bill passes, we will not be able to satisfy the future water needs of the town,” Clawson said. “It would be a shame for this project to end here when so much has been done to ensure a healthy future for this area. This would have an economic impact on the entire High Country.”
Here is an excerpt from the ‘Please support N.C. “KILL BILL” HB 1227 – Rep. Jonathan Jordan sponsor’ petition on change.org, petitioning the NC State Senate, the NC State House and the North Carolina State General Assembly Representatives. The petition was created by Friends of The New River in Todd and currently has 410 signatures.
“As it stands now, the Blowing Rock and Boone Waste Water Treatment Plants and the very antiquated and non-functional storm water systems of Boone and Blowing Rock and other permitted effluent discharge points have contributed to, have caused pollution and continue to pollute the Headwaters of the New River and these facts are extremely relevant to this rule change proposal. The withdrawal of up to 4 million gallons per day, along with the introduction into the Town of Boone and Blowing Rock’s waste water treatment systems will further create harm to these Headwaters of the New River. These two townships are not able to clear the waste water discharges of pollutants and chemicals as it is, a problem that will only be increased should this project be allowed to be constructed. Thus creating an open cesspool in a class “C+” river and one that is designated as an American Heritage River, a National Scenic Waterway and believed to be the 2nd oldest river on the earth. “