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Originally published: 2014-05-20 17:13:46
Last modified: 2014-05-20 17:14:31

'Save the New River' group meets Wednesday

by Anna Oakes

A group calling itself Save the New River will hold an organizational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday to form a new nonprofit to fight the town of Boone's water intake project.


The meeting will take place at the Riverside Restaurant in Todd. A notice about the meeting invites citizens to volunteer to serve as directors and officers, vote for officers and help create the new organization's bylaws. The contact information for the new group is listed as (savethenewriver@gmail.com)


"The purpose is to protect the New River in Watauga and Ashe counties from a proposed -- but ill-conceived and potentially highly damaging -- water intake project," the notice stated.


Area residents announced plans to form the new nonprofit at a citizens' meeting on the intake project held May 13, attended by about 60 people. The meeting was organized by a group of citizens who oppose the project, a plan to build a 4 million-gallon-per-day intake on the South Fork New River near Todd and a transmission line back to Boone.


Frank Packard -- the featured speaker at last week's meeting who lives near the proposed intake site -- outlined several concerns about the project, including what he characterized as an inflated estimation of Boone's future water needs, a lack of transparency about the project from Boone officials, hidden costs, environmental impacts and infringement of private property rights.


Town leaders maintain that the additional 4 million gpd provided by the intake is necessary for future growth of the town and that treated water will be returned to the river upstream of the intake site, maintaining river flow "close to original levels."