Boone water intake opponents to host meeting May 13
by Anna Oakes
A meeting of citizens opposed to the town of Boone's water intake project will take place at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13, at the Riverside Restaurant, located at 7181 Railroad Grade Road in Todd.
Frank Packard, a concerned citizen who has spent six years researching the project and attending the Boone Water Use Committee meetings, will be the featured speaker.
The town has planned to build a 4 million-gallon-per-day intake on the South Fork New River near Todd since 2005, with costs estimated at $25 million. Several setbacks have delayed the project, which Boone Public Utilities Director Rick Miller recently said would be completed by 2018 at the earliest.
Although 73 percent of Boone voters approved a 2008 bond referendum to finance a new water source, the project has faced vocal opposition from other groups, including residents of the Todd area and Ashe County.
Opponents say the project endangers the water quality and flow of the New River and that the town would control too much of the region's limited water resources. The town, however, says that treated water will be returned to the river upstream of the intake site, maintaining river flow "close to original levels."
Opponents also say the town has overstated and exaggerated its need for the additional water.
"The proposed intake will adversely affect farming, tourism, fishing, canoeing, tubing, kayaking and other river recreation," an announcement about the meeting said. "Research shows Boone does not need anywhere near this amount of water."
Materials published by the town in support of the project noted that the town's water demand hit 80 percent of its permitted capacity of 3 million gpd in 2006 and projected that 2009 demand would hit the 90 percent mark -- the point at which the state requires water system expansion to be under way.
But instead, Boone water usage has been on the decline, according to figures presented by Miller at a March 26 Water Use Committee meeting. After peaking at an average maximum daily demand of 2.1316 million gpd in 2008, average daily demand has not topped the 2 million gpd mark since then, and in 2013, the figure was 1.7921 million gpd -- the lowest in 10 years.
Town leaders have attributed the decreased demand to the economic recession and to the town's conservation efforts. And they say the additional 4 million gpd will be needed for future growth of the town. The town's original calculations included 1 million gpd for currently unincorporated areas and 500,000 gpd for the town of Blowing Rock.
If weather permits, meeting attendees will tour the proposed water intake site. Attendees are asked to bring a chair. For directions or more information, call (828) 308-1803 or (336) 877-4847.