First look at MSD’s water merger study delayed

Due to the far-reaching effects of Hurricane Sandy, the planned November 1 discussion of the draft water study contracted for by the Metropolitan Sewerage District of Buncombe County has been delayed.

MSD’s general manager, Tom Hartye, told the Xpress by email that Thursday’s planning committee meeting was cancelled late yesterday because two leaders of the consultant team who are based in New York had been affected by the storm. The completion of the draft study was also held up but is expected soon. Hartye said he hopes to reschedule the meeting for November 9, but will announce the date and time when it is confirmed.

Al Root, chairman of MSD’s planning committee, noted to Xpress that the upcoming study is expected to “shed light on how the productivity of the water and sewer functions would be impacted by a merger.” MSD contracted for the study with Malcolm Pirnie/Arcadis following a legislative study committee’s recommendation that the Asheville water system be merged with MSD, which is an independent authority (see “MSD Awards Contract,” Xpress, 7/19/12).

“We’re trying to be very open,” said Root in an email. “The purpose behind the study is to make sure it is feasible for MSD to become involved in our region’s water production process without harming our present core responsibility of sewerage treatment.”

“We will very much welcome folks reviewing the study as soon as it becomes available on our website, and attending our meetings and providing input on the content,” Root said. “MSD and the city of Asheville are both trying to gather this information so that we can respond to the request from our legislature that we study how any merger would affect water and sewer rate payers, and how it would impact economic development prospects.”

A separate study being pursued by the city of Asheville recently missed its deadline for an Oct. 30 public meeting, which has not yet been rescheduled (see “The Ayes Have It,” Xpress, 10/23/12).

by Nelda Holder, contributing editor





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