A legislative committee in Raleigh, chaired by Rep. Tim Moffitt, is discussing whether or not to force the City of Asheville to surrender its water system to an outside agency.
Committee recommends joint regional water, sewer system
Excerpted from The Hendersonville Times-News, April 13, 2012
A legislative study committee has released a draft report calling for a joint regional water and sewer system to serve Asheville and its surrounding area.
“What we’re doing is making a finding that we think a joint regional water and sewer authority would be appropriate,” State Rep. Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson and a member of the Legislative Research Commission’s Committee on Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System, said Friday.
McGrady stressed that the study committee, chaired by Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, is issuing findings, not preparing a bill for the General Assembly. The findings, McGrady said, are what the five-member committee thinks ought to happen because it would be in the public’s best interests.
At present, the city of Asheville owns the water system that serves most Buncombe County residents, and the Metropolitan Sewerage District treats wastewater for Buncombe County and a portion of Henderson County.
Lawmakers are asking local governments and the Metropolitan Sewerage District to come together and craft a reasonable, regional system, McGrady said. He pointed to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities as an example of a joint regional water and sewer system.
Water report leaves questions about direction of Asheville’s system
Panel report calls for merger, but provides little direction
Excerpted from the Asheville Citizen-Times, April 14, 2012:
ASHEVILLE — Work on handing control over the region’s largest water system to a sewerage district that serves 51,000 customers likely would begin with a mountain of questions and few answers.
Would rates increase for users — particularly business customers who absorbed a 10 percent rate hike last year?
Would improvements to an aging water system continue?
Asheville in the past six years has spent $40 million updating the water system it manages now, replacing lines that in some cases were a century old.
A controversial draft report issued by a state legislative study committee last week calls for merging water and sewer services in Asheville and surrounding areas — but it doesn’t say how.
State Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, has pushed for the change and served as chairman of the Legislature’s Committee on Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System.
Moffitt said he wanted to make sure water customers living outside of Asheville wouldn’t face the possibility of being charged higher rates than city residents.
The report from his committee calls for Asheville and the Metropolitan Sewerage District to work out the details of handing control over of the city water system to the sewerage district, something city officials oppose.
That could leave water customers — based on the sewerage district’s history — facing steadily increasing rates.
And, industrial users probably would not see any rollback of a city government effort to make them pay a greater share of the cost of their water. The sewerage district is doing the same thing for sewer service rates.
The Committee on Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System report contains no legislation mandating the transfer. That could happen in 2013, but there would be no guarantee of passage in the General Assembly.
Nor does the report say how much the city should be paid for the system — or whether it should be paid at all.
LEGISLATIVE RESEARCH COMMISSION REPORTS:
Get the facts and learn what you can do to help Asheville maintain control of its water system by checking out these two documents: