Judge’s decision blocks transfer of Asheville’s water system

North Fork Reservoir, the main water source for the local water system managed by the city of Asheville, is part of a 22,000-acre watershed.
North Fork Reservoir, the main water source for the local water system managed by the city of Asheville, is part of a 22,000-acre watershed. Courtesy City of Asheville

Last evening, June 9, the city of Asheville released the news: Judge Howard Manning has ruled that North Carolina legislators’ move to take over the local water system violates the state constitution. “The Water Act,” he ruled, “is not a valid exercise of the sovereign power of the legislative branch.”

Kirk Ross, with Carolina Public Press, reported:

RALEIGH — In a strongly worded ruling issued Monday, Wake County Superior Court Judge Howard Manning found that last year’s move by the N.C. General Assembly to shift control of the Asheville water system to a new regional authority violated the state constitution’s limits on legislative power.

Manning said that although it passed as a statewide bill, the legislation mandating the change was a local act, despite its sponsors’ assertions that it was not.

Unless overturned on appeal, the ruling prevents the state from “implementing or attempting to implement The Water Act.”

The 2013 bill, entitled “Regionalization of Public Utilities” was sponsored by Buncombe County Reps.Tim Moffitt and Nathan Ramsey and Henderson County Rep. Chuck McGrady, all Republicans, and passed on mostly party lines with only one Democratic vote in the House. …

His ruling also backed the city’s contention that changing who has authority over the water system without compensating the city for it constituted a “taking” for which the city received no compensation. Asheville is entitled to the same constitutional protections as an individual or corporation, Manning wrote in his ruling.

For more, go to carolinapublicpress.org.

Here’s the ruling:

WaterRuling20140609171008315

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