What’s the story, Xpress?

On Sept. 18, at a joint Legislature/City Council meeting, Rep. Chuck McGrady made it clear that a committee, led by Rep. Tim Moffitt, is considering seizing much more than just Asheville's water system. He described an area covering all of Buncombe County and most of Henderson County (including, specifically, the city of Hendersonville), that might be made part of a “combined water and sewer” under the control of Metropolitan Sewerage District.

These comments echoed those he made in June, during the debate on the MSD Amendment bill, after persistent questioning by Rep. Patsy Keever: “If we're talking a water/sewer district, potentially, Hendersonville could be part of a water/sewer district where the two water systems join." (Full audio and transcripts at ashevillewater.blogspot.com.)

This raises many questions, beginning with: What did Hendersonville do to deserve the same treatment Asheville is getting? We've been told repeatedly that Asheville had to be stripped of its water system because it raised commercial water rates in 2011, or it wants to charge county users higher rates, etc.

What happens to that justification when you realize that Rep. Moffitt and the powers in Raleigh are considering seizing Hendersonville's water also (the only other major water system in the French Broad River basin), for no comparable reason? What are the implications of putting control of practically all the water and sewer systems in two counties under one unelected board?

But perhaps the most nagging question for me is this: Mountain Xpress has known about this for weeks, if not months, but has chosen not to report it. Why?

— Barry Summers
Asheville
Managing Editor Margaret Williams responds: Thank you for being a community watchdog and raising important questions. Xpress is charged with evaluating tips and potential news in a fair and balanced way, considering as many angles as we can and trying to keep things in context without speculating or offering our own interpretations. Since Moffitt's committee took shape, we’ve had four reporters investigating and reporting on this issue. The story and our coverage of it are far from over.

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