Water System: Decision Makers and PerspectiveBy
There are lots of reasons for everyone to keep an eye on this process, and I hope that folks get very engaged. In order to most effectively advocate for your position, it’s important to recognize who holds the decision-making power and to tailor one’s advocacy to persuade those holding the reins.
Who’s calling the shots?
Rep. Moffitt started this entire process on his own, and he’s Chairing this Study Committee.
List of members’ email addresses: Tim.Moffitt@ncleg.net, Bill.Brawley@ncleg.net, William.Brisson@ncleg.net, Tom.Murry@ncleg.net, Chuck.McGrady@ncleg.net
The Study Committee will meet four times and then recommend something. Today’s 2pm meeting will be audio broadcasted here. A meeting will be held in Asheville in late February, and the public will reportedly be invited to offer comments.
If the Committee recommends something other than the status quo, then Rep. Moffitt will need majority support in the House and Senate to pass the changes. The NCGOP controls both bodies. It is unclear whether any proposal will be subject to a Governor’s veto.
From the City’s perspective
The Study Committee will receive input from lots of different folks including the City of Asheville. Here’s a look at the Powerpoint that will be a part of Asheville’s presentation tomorrow.
Looking through this makes it clear that Asheville has consistently been a responsible steward of the water resource while being recognized for fiscal and organizational excellence. No matter what agendas members of the Committee may have, there will be no arguing with the fact that Asheville has done a great job managing this resource while keeping costs low for ratepayers. Some highlights for those of you who couldn’t be arsed to read the powerpoint:
- 20,000 acres of protected watershed in Buncombe County
- Two reservoirs holding roughly 7 billion gallons of stored water
- Average daily demand of about 21 million gallons per day
- Service system area – 183 square miles
- 1,661 miles of water lines
- Number of customers in 2007: 50,903
- Number of customers in 2011: 52,896
- Water system service area includes: three water treatment facilities, forty pump stations, thirty-two storage tanks, 56,000 water meters, 6,650 flushing hydrants
- Water Department has seven divisions with 146 employees.
Estimated value of water system assets: $1.3 billion
Estimated value of Asheville Watershed lands: $719 million
- The City of Asheville has continued to own the water system and its assets, even during the periods covered by the water authority.
Should the legislature seek to convey Asheville’s holdings to another entity, the matter of the $2 billion pricetag is a very important one. Surely the state wouldn’t summarily strip a municipality of a $2 billion asset without reimbursement. Doing so would run afoul of North Carolina law.
Were a new entity to take up ownership and management of the water system…
- they will be responsible for operating costs plus reimbursement costs. These revenues would presumptively come from ratepayers.
- it is unclear to what degree that entity would be accountable to the public.
- it is unclear whether protections against eventual privatization of the water resources would be included in the deal.
The City of Asheville Water System:
1) Has an “appropriate and experienced management team in place”;
2) Has had “consistent moderate growth in water demand”;
3) Is in “excellent financial condition”;
4) Has made “consistent investment in water system infrastructure”; and
5) Has “manageable capital needs and a comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan”.
You can email the Study Committee members by copying these addresses:
Tim.Moffitt@ncleg.net, Bill.Brawley@ncleg.net, William.Brisson@ncleg.net, Tom.Murry@ncleg.net, Chuck.McGrady@ncleg.net