Save Our Sandhills Hosts Expert on Water Conservation
Thursday, July 30, Save Our Sandhills will host guest speaker Bill Holman to give a talk on the topic "Water, A Valuable Resource in the 21st Century Does North Carolina Need a Plan?"
Concern about water needs in North Carolina has long been a problem for a state that has been growing in leaps and bounds, and has faced severe droughts and water shortages in recent years.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Carolina will grow to a population of 12 million by the year 2030, which is an increase of more than 50 percent from the tally made in the year 2000. And North Carolina is one of only three states -- North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama -- that doesn't currently require big water users to obtain permits to make withdrawals.
According to some, this is equivalent to North Carolina having its head in the sand. Senator Dan Clodfelter, co-chairman of the Environmental Review commission, has said, "We don't really have a comprehensive set of water policies. . . . We have to get ahead of the curve . . . or we'll wind up in the kind of water wars they've had for generations out West."
There have already been cross-border water demand conflicts. South Carolina has sued North Carolina in the U.S. Supreme Court, contending that taking water from the Catawba and Yadkin rivers is leaving less water downstream for South Carolina towns and industries.
Realizing that North Carolina needs to determine how much water will be needed to accommodate future growth, the legislature commissioned the North Carolina Water Allocation Study to be written by Richard Whisnant of the University of North Carolina's School of Government and Bill Holman of Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.
Holman is the former Secretary of the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources and former executive director of the N.C. Clean Water Management Trust Fund (CWMTF). Richard Whisnant is associate professor of public law and government, teaching environmental and administrative law as well as public policy analysis.
Both Whisnant and Holman have taken a pragmatic view of the situation.
"We use water the same way a government or home that has no budget spends money," said Whisnant. "We have no water budget. We just hope everyone will be reasonable in how they use it. . . .It will be a big problem for us in the future."
And Holman offers an additional perspective to the state's problem of burgeoning growth.
"In the last century, we had a lot of water and not too many people," he said. "We're moving from an era of cheap and abundant water to an era of scarce and more valuable water. Water needs to be priced more appropriately."
Realizing that much water information has been fragmented, Holman and Whisnant noted in their study that "Water systems and their managers are often excluded from local land decisions and regional economic development planning, including construction of public schools, that increase demand for water, wastewater and stormwater services, increase operating and capital costs, and affect the ability of water systems to assure adequate water supplies and wastewater treatment for the future."
Therefore, they solicited comments from planners and made revisions to their draft report to be as comprehensive as possible. Their recommendations include:
n Developing water budgets for each of the state's 17 major river basins.
n Setting up a state permit system for all large withdrawals of water (large withdrawals being considered 100,000 gallons of water per day or more).
n Establishing state goals for water conservation.
n Charging rates sufficient to operate and maintain water systems properly.
In his talk, Holman will discuss the Duke-UNC-CH Water Allocation Study Team's report and recommendations to the 2009 General Assembly. The General Assembly has decided to carry over Senate bill 907 and House version 1101 of the Water Resources Policy Act (WRPA) of 2009 until the 2010 legislative session; the Assembly does not plan to act on it this year.
"This is certainly a timely issue that each of us needs to understand," says a spokesman. "Our future welfare will be affected. Join us for this informative evening; refreshments follow."
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Southern Pines Civic Club at the corner of Ashe Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
More like this story