Local government’s key role in ensuring citizen involvement and source water protection
Clean Water for NC supports public, locally owned drinking water for many reasons. Local governments are usually responsive to residents’ concerns, knowledgeable about local problems and resources, and accountable to their constituents when it comes time to make an important decision. This cannot be said for private utilities or levels of government that are too far removed from a local community.
Last year, the General Assembly attempted to transfer the City of Asheville’s water system to a regional authority. This raised concerns that state government will begin arbitrarily transferring local government assets across the state, with hardly any local input! Meanwhile, the City of Asheville itself has taken several actions that exemplify why local government control – and decisions – make the most sense.
In November, Asheville’s government asked its citizens for their input on a ballot referendum. 86% of city residents voted no to the sale or lease of the water system. Taking this guidance from the public, City Council this week passed a strong resolution opposing the transfer!
Also this week, the Council voted to strengthen the conservation easement which protects the North Fork watershed (pictured), prohibiting commercial logging, commercial recreation and introduction of invasive species.
The Principles of Environmental Justice demand “the right to participate as equal partners at every level of decision-making.” With the future of NC’s drinking water systems in question, we think local governments will do the best job of implementing this principle and keeping water safe for people – not for profit.