Intake opponents developing action plan
by Anna Oakes
The newly formed New River Advocates will hold a meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29, at the Riverside Restaurant in Todd, where organization leaders will present an action plan for opposing the town of Boone's water intake project.
The coalition of citizens from Ashe and Watauga counties formed as a nonprofit organization in June following an organizational interest meeting in May. Initially called New River Keepers, the organization's name changed to New River Advocates Inc. because of a trademark conflict.
The mission of New River Advocates is "to protect the New River Basin's rivers, streams and tributaries through study, education and advocacy for the benefit of all those who depend on and enjoy these waters," the group's website states.
The group is currently focused on "providing data and information in an open and transparent manner regarding the town of Boone's proposed water intake, actual and future projected water usage of the town, as well as environmental and private property rights issues that have failed to be adequately addressed openly," it said.
Boone has planned since the mid-2000s to expand its water supply by building a 4 million-gallon-per-day intake on the South Fork New River near Todd and a transmission line back to Boone. The intake would increase the town's supply from a current capacity of 3 million gpd to 7 million gpd.
The New River Advocates say the town does not actually need 7 million gpd, however, pointing to the town's own Local Water Supply Plan, which in 2013 projected that town water demand would reach 3.6 million gpd by the year 2060. Intake project opponents suggest the town could get by with an increase of approximately 1.5 million gpd, which they say would open up water source alternatives that are better for the environment.
The town's treated wastewater discharge site is located upstream of the proposed intake. Although the town has insisted that the water returned to the river will be safe and have little effect on the river level, opponents continue to express concerns about these issues.
"The effects of such a project on water flow and water quality in an already stressed and relatively small, shallow river are largely unstudied and unknown," a statement from New River Advocates said.
Meeting attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair, as the event will be outside. Food and drinks are available inside the restaurant.