What is in Asheville’s water? Are we going to lose control of it? And how can we plan for drought?
Asheville water experts will answer those questions and more during a forum at the Asheville Chamber of Commerce building, Thursday, July 31, from 6-9 p.m. Representatives from local agencies and organizations will address coal ash and CTS pollution, spills and unusual rain patterns.
The forum is part of an introduction to residents on how to be good water consumers, said Sherry Ingram, professional geologist and lead person on the Water Sustainability Initiative of Western North Carolina. Transition Asheville and WaterLinks, PLLC, initiated the WSI project last year to help encourage residents to implement methods for managing rain water.
“We cannot fix water problems with just industrial engineered applications,” Ingram said. “We really have to engage the population and get them thinking about what they can do as residents. It’s going to take people being better educated and community engagement to help stabilize our water regime.”
Some of those problems include lower water aquifers and more water running off the ground’s surface without much permeation, Ingram explained.
“Over the last couple hundred years, we’ve been draining our water, paving and making our towns impervious,” she said. Helping the water get back into the soil on one’s own property is a way homeowners and even renters can do to for better conservation, Ingram said.
Ivan Thomas, operations manager for Asheville’s Water Resources department, will also report on the status of a lawsuit and bill N.C. Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe, filed in 2011. That bill would force Asheville to give up control over the public water system, but in June, Judge Howard Manning ruled that North Carolina legislators violated the state constitution, Carolina Public Press reported.
“Uncertainty is one of the main concerns for people,” Thomas said. “I am planning to give an update on the merger and lawsuit and will be there to answer questions from citizens.”
“We have spent millions of dollars on capital improvements, and we’ve use that money to fix about 1,300 leaks every year,” Thomas said. “It’s been the case all along.” Thomas has served the city for 18 years.
Organizers plan to address water pollution as well, including the Superfund CTS site, the recent Hominy Creek spill and coal ash pollution into the French Broad River and elsewhere.
“I think coal ash this year has been on the forefront of people’s concerns,” said Emma Greenbaum of the Sierra Club. Greenbaum said she hopes the forum will raise awareness about heavy metal contaminants that are seeping into area waterways daily.
“I always have a call to action when I talk about this publicly, Greenbaum said. “People need to know how to get involved. Right now, there is legislation about coal ash, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.” she said. “Ultimately, a big part of this effort is making sure Duke does the right thing.”
For more information, go to waterlinkspllc.com.