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N.C. Representatives on study committee considering the seizure of a city’s water system

March 11, 2012

March 13, 2012


ASHEVILLE, N.C. – State Representatives Tim Moffitt (Buncombe), William Brawley (Mecklenburg), Chuck McGrady (Henderson), Tom Murry (Wake), and William Brisson (Bladen/Cumberland) sit on a five-person state committee set to consider a proposal to seize the Asheville water system and turn it over to an unelected regional water and sewage authority. The Committee meets again on March 14 in Raleigh.

“If the General Assembly is successful in taking the city water system, it will be one of the biggest thefts in the world,” said David Gantt, Buncombe County Commissioner.

The situation began last year when Buncombe County State Rep. Tim Moffitt introduced a perplexing bill that called for the seizure of the Asheville water system, a well-managed, efficient utilitythat delivers pure mountain water to ratepayers in two counties. Following a backlash, Rep. Moffitt turned the bill into a “study” committee that will have the power to endorse his proposal before moving on to the state legislature.

This proposal does not have the support of Asheville/Buncombe officials or Buncombe County’s other state representatives. The committee lacks 68% representation of actual water ratepayers.

“Everyone is wondering what are the motives behind this ugly business,” said Heather Rayburn of Asheville, an opponent of the proposal. “Is this a first step in trying to privatize our water? Is it a maneuver by the county next door to have Asheville subsidize their sewer system? It’s a scary business that such a thing could even be considered by the state.”

Citizens working on the issue are contacting media outlets across the state in an effort to publicize this abuse of political power. Questions to consider, especially for those in the committee members’ districts, include the following:

  • If Raleigh succeeds in seizing one water system against the will of both the people and public officials of a region, then what is to stop the state from taking anything without good cause or moral authority?
  • We’re urging municipal bodies across the state to consider the enclosed resolution in support of keeping all water systems within local control.
  • Could this happen to a publicly-owned resource in your county?
  • How much has this invasive and unnecessary process already cost state taxpayers?

For more information on what is happening in Buncombe County, please visit:

Important supplemental documents:

1)  “Mapping Asheville’s Politics,” brief presentation from Joe Minicozzi, Asheville Downtown Association
2)  Video statement from Buncombe County Commission Chair David Gantt
3)  Video statement from N.C. Buncombe State Senator Martin Nesbitt
via the Asheville Citizen-Times
4)  Video presentation from Barry Summers on “Privatizing Asheville’s Water

Sample resolution supporting local control of public water systems for municipalities

Fact Sheets
1)  “Connecting the Dots“: A fact sheet about the water issue & how you can take action!
2)  A one-page flowchart showing “What’s at Stake.”

Background Stories
1)  “Public gives legislators an earful on water system” Mountain Xpress, 2/23/12
2)  “Fate of Bent Creek may play unspoken role in water system dispute” Mountain Xpress, 3/9/12
3) “As several WNC communities debate water control, public utilities have ready private buyers” Carolina Public Press, 3/12/12

Special Reports
1)  “Privatizing NC’s Water, Undermining Justice (2011)” from Clean Water for N.C.
2)  Water Resources Department Presentation – City of Asheville, updated February 16, 2012. Our water system is not broken. Moffitt is creating a “solution” without a problem.

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