The legislative study committee examining the Asheville water system’s fate will hold a public hearing here on Thursday, Feb. 23, at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher.
Details of the hearing have not been finalized, but the event is being planned to take place in sections, according to an email notice from Rep. Tim Moffitt of Buncombe County and chair of the Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System Study Committee. “Public comment will be taken by area so that no one has to wait all day to be heard. They will know when their time begins and ends and will be able to plan accordingly,” said the Buncombe County legislator, who was primary sponsor of the study committee bill in the 2011 legislative session.
The committee’s first hearing took place in Raleigh on Jan. 23. Testimony on that day included an economic overview presented by Deputy State Treasurer Vance Holloman; perspectives on water and sewer history presented by Asheville Vice Mayor Esther Manheimer and Metropolitan Sewerage District board chair, Steve Aceto; and legal perspectives presented by Asheville attorney Robert Long. (Documents from the Jan. 23 hearing are available online here.)
The committee will hold a total of four meetings before preparing its April report to the Legislature. An agenda and further information for the Feb. 23 meeting will be posted at the committee’s website in the next few days, according to Moffitt.
A related event takes place on Monday, Feb. 13, planned in advance of the study committee’s public hearing in order to provide information on the history and issues involved with the local water system. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County and co-sponsored by the Mountain Xpress and the Urban News, the Asheville Water Forum will be held at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 789 Merrimon Ave. Panelists include Manheimer and Aceto, who both presented at the Raleigh hearing; Rep. Chuck McGrady of Henderson County, a member of the study committee and former member of the one-time Regional Water Authority locally; and Dr. Gene Rainey, former chair of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners.
The informational forum takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, 789 Merrimon Ave., and is free and open to the public. From 6:30 to 7 p.m., Steve Shoaf, director of the Asheville Water Resources Department, and Tom Hartye, executive director of MSD, will be present in the lobby to provide information on their operations.
Nelda Holder, contributing editor
(Holder is a board member of the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, and is on the coordinating committee for the Feb. 13 forum.)
Editor’s note: A transcript of an earlier interview with Rep. Moffitt regarding the study committee is available here.