On December 21, 2016, the NC Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Asheville in a long-standing dispute over the City’s right to own and operate their water system, overruling a lower court’s decision. (Read the City of Asheville’s statement). This decision recognizes the inherent connection between water utility governance and human health, and denies the NC General Assembly’s attempt to pass local legislation to involuntarily transfer drinking water assets from one entity to another.
This decision sets a statewide precedent which is good for all local governments who are tasked with responsibly governing vital public resources, assuring them that they will not suddenly lose control of assets they have worked to invest in, and that regional partnerships to provide communities with drinking water come about when local residents support them, not as a result of legislative mandates. CWFNC 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.
Local public interest activist Barry Summers of Save Our Water WNC says “We hope that this puts to rest the notion that the power of the State should be used in this manner. We support and encourage the City of Asheville to reach out to the various political entities of Western North Carolina that have an interest in safe, reliable, locally-controlled drinking water, and find common solutions to whatever areas of friction that may have contributed to this five-year long saga.”
Clean Water for NC is proud to partner with communities to ensure that drinking water remains local and public!