Approximately 25 people attended a discussion on the potential of water intake from the city of Boone on the Ashe County and Watauga County border on Tuesday, April 22.
The discussion, hosted by We the People of Ashe County, started at 6 p.m. at the Faith Fellowship in West Jefferson.
Leading the discussion was Frank Packard, who has been to multiple meetings involving the town of Boone and followed the issue of the potential placement of a plant along the South Fork New River.
“Frank has been very active in this issue,” said Donald Nelson, who was introducing Packard to the audience. “He’s been following it, is very intelligent and knowing all the facts.”
Packard, a Todd resident read the opinions of the Ashe County Board of Commissioners and then followed with his insight on the subject, one he has been following since moving to a property near the New River.
Packard said a similar movement was started by the people around Beech Mountain, in Watauga County, to prevent the intake of water for the town of Boone by that area. Packard believes Ashe County could build that same resistance.
“What I’ve been trying to do, is I describe myself as a concerned citizen,” he said. “I’m very concerned because the intake is close to where I live. I needed to find out what was going on, was it necessary and if it was something that needed to be done.”
Packard said referring to Boone’s reasons for needing the water, the needs the town were claiming, he said were “water wants.”
“I didn’t like what I was seeing,” Packard said. “I saw a project that in my opinion was a project that was supported by inaccurate information and misleading information.”
In January 2013, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) terminated the project because the town of Boone did not submit all of the data requested by the agency. Boone was required to gain signatures by surrounding communities, including the Ashe County Board of Commissioners on a MT-2 form, which is used for map revisions by the federal agency.
Right now, the town of Boone is allowed to take up to three million gallons a day from either the South Fork New River or Watauga River. The new proposal would allow for four million gallons to be taken from the South Fork New River.
Before any water can be taken out, the town of Boone will once again have to take out forms to receive Ashe County’s signature for the intake. The proposed plant location is in Watauga County between Brownwood and Todd.
“At some point they are going to have to resubmit that FEMA MT-2 form-1, which is for flood mapping changes,” Packard said. “If they do that, Ashe County is going to be directly involved because (commissioners) will have to sign off on that… It’s not a dead issue and I think there are some things Ashe County can do.”
Packard said it was important for the community to get the opinions of the Commissioners relating to the issue, because he believes the issue will come before the Board after the upcoming election.
For more information on the organization, visit http://www.wethepeopleofashecounty.com/
Wil Petty can be reached at (336) 846-7164 or on Twitter @WilPetty.