WaterWorks: EPA Recovery Act funds awarded, Carolina water war, WEF-AWS partnership

May 2009 Vol. 64 No. 5

It is estimated that the awarding of contracts could occur as early as late summer or early fall.

Carolina’s water war rages on

The legal battle over the rights to the Catawba River rests with the U.S. Supreme Court in the form of a two-year lawsuit to prevent North Carolina from hoarding a major water supply from South Carolina.

A win or loss in the Supreme Court would be particularly important as it would establish future rules for river battles that are yet to come. The Catawba River goes through North Carolina before it hits the Palmetto Sate and NC is alleging it can do whatever it wants with the water, but SC is fighting to ensure its supply doesn’t get cut off.

Charlotte is the biggest city along the Catawba and the largest provider of water and wastewater treatment. The city serves more than 800,000 people in six counties and nine towns on both sides of the state line. Charlotte pulls 53 percent of the water drawn by municipalities along the river. And the demand for treated water has grown to 110 Mg/d in 2006 from 57 Mg/d in 1987. The projected need by 2050 is 215 Mg/d.

The Supreme Court will also be deciding whether to allow three parties — the city, Duke Energy Corp. and a local water utility — to intervene.

Duke says it should be a party to the case because neither state will adequately represent its interests since the company’s hydroelectric operations are in both states.

The case threatens Duke’s pending federal relicensing agreement with 70 groups that have a stake in the river. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission oversees Duke’s use of the Catawba. Duke is in the process of renewing its 50-year license with FERC for its 11 reservoirs and 13 hydroelectric facilities on the river.

Duke says it will “face conflicting federal mandates” if the Supreme Court’s decision differs from its FERC license. Duke argues the relicensing agreement “reflects an equitable apportionment” of the Catawba because it sets lake levels and stream flows.

An attorney for the Catawba River Water Supply Project — a bi-state utility that filed to intervene — says Duke’s relicensing agreement serves as an interstate compact.
NC Attorney General Roy Cooper claims that his state has the right to do whatever it wants with the Catawba River.
Siding with South Carolina is the U.S. solicitor general, who represents the federal government’s interests in all litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court.