The governing bodies of Montgomery County and the Town of Mount Gilead are among those who have filed with the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR) a document opposing a plan to transfer water from Lake Tillery to Union County, N.C.
The Oct. 3, 2016, letter to DENR’s Division of Water Resources was prepared by Smith, Moore & Leatherwood law firm of Greensboro. In addition to the governmental entities, the letter also represents the concerns of three local businesses: J5 Development, Inc. (doing business as Lilly’s Bridge Marina), New South Realty, Inc., and Uwharrie Cabins, Inc.
Under a proposal filed earlier with DENR, Union County would draw as much as 23 million gallons of water per day from Lake Tillery and transport it by pipeline to be used by customers of the Union County water system. The plan, known as an “interbasin transfer” (IBT), was developed in conjunction with the Town of Norwood.
In June 2016, DENR’s Environmental Management Commission (Commission) issued its preliminary findings of fact, which were favorable to Union County’s IBT request. The Commission is expected to make a final ruling in early 2017.
Union County currently uses water from the Catawba River in South Carolina through a previously-issued IBT that allows as much as 5 million gallons per day to be transferred.
Union County also purchases some water from Anson County. The water also comes from the Pee Dee River below Lake Tillery, but totals less than 2 million gallons per day and does not require state approval.
While the City of Monroe is not a party to the IBT, it does have a contract with Union County to purchase as much as 1.99 million gallons of water per day from the county.
In their opposition to the IBT, the parties represented say:
“Montgomery County is directly impacted by this IBT request but has been unlawfully excluded from the process.
“Failure to provide adequate legal notice to the people within Montgomery County is a statutory violation that has fundamentally flawed the entire Interbasin Transfer process.
“The Commission’s draft Findings of Fact are erroneous because they did not consider any information that would have arisen from public participation within Montgomery County.
“The evidence that the Commission relied upon to draft the Certificate is incomplete and unreliable since it failed to gain participation from the people of Montgomery County in which Lake Tillery is located.
“Notice and Comment on the Draft Certificate is short-circuited by a failure to provide means to view the model that was used to evaluate the direct impacts on the source basin including Montgomery County.”
The letter calls on DENR to deny the IBT request as currently drafted. The full text of the letter can be seen by clicking here.