Boone water intake project dismissed by FEMA

James HowellStaff

February 10, 2013

The Boone water intake project has been terminated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) because the Town of Boone didn’t submit all of the requested data.

The Town of Boone was notified by FEMA in a Jan. 30, letter.

“Review of the submitted data indicates that not all of the the requested data was received from our previous letter dated Aug. 21, 2012 before the FEMA deadline on Nov. 19, 2012; therefore, this request was terminated,” said the letter.

The four million gallon-per-day water intake facility was planned to be located on a 10-acre site on the South Fork of the New River between Todd and Brownwood in Watauga County. Water was planned to be transported to Boone’s water treatment plan using a transmission line that will follow along Brownwood Road.

However, before the project could proceed, the Town of Boone needed to gain the signatures of all the surrounding communities that would be impacted by the project on an MT-2 form, including a signature from the Ashe County Board of Commissioners.

Mitchell said Ashe County’s representation tried to work with the Town of Boone, but Boone did not answer a few important concerns that Ashe County’s leadership had about the project. Namely, Mitchell said a possible change in the floodplain could hurt property owners who reside in Ashe County. Also, part of the project would cross onto Ashe County land.

“The Board of Commissioners will not sign the MT-2 form for the above-referenced project and are opposed to having any portion of the project located in our political jurisdiction,” said Mitchell in a letter sent to Steve Garrett of the N.C. Department of Public Safety on Sept. 24.

The hesitation to sign the MT-2 form caused the case’s eventual dismissal.

Mitchell described this process in an email to Rep. Jonathan Jordan and N.C. Senator Dan Soucek. Mitchell said the following:

“After several attempts to obtain updated information from the Town of Boone, Patty Gambill (Ashe emergency management director) and I participated in a conference call Nov. 13, with FEMA and the State Division of Emergency Management regarding the issue. As a result of that phone call, FEMA directed the Division of EM to go back to Boone and obtain updated maps/plans/information and provide them to my office.”

Mitchell’s email went on to read “three additional emails followed with no response, and then a request was made to the deputy secretary of the Department of Public Safety – the attached letters are the result of that contact. The letters, in summary, state that FEMA is not moving ahead with the water intake project as the Town of Boone has not provided the information that Ashe County needs to make an informed decision about signing the MT-2 form, and Ashe County’s signature, as an ‘impacted community,’ is necessary to move ahead.”

Mitchell later determined the water intake project “would have changed the floodplain for several Ashe County residents.”

The FEMA notification doesn’t mean the project is completely terminated, just this particular case is dismissed.

“Any additional data submitted for this request will be treated as a new submission and will be subject to all submission/payment procedures, including the flat review and processing fee for requests of this type and will be assigned a new case number,” read the FEMA letter.

Mitchell said it is possible for the Town of Boone to submit the project once again, but also said this is a setback for the project.

“If they do that, they have to start from scratch,” said Mitchell, meaning they would be required to re-submit their fee’s only to, once again, try to capture Ashe County’s signature.