Utility companies devising plan to manage water consumption

by: Stephanie Coueignoux Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The 2 million people who rely on water from the Catawba River could see some big changes in where that water is stored and how customers pay for it.

Public water utility companies in North and South Carolina, along with Duke Energy, are developing a plan to make sure water supply keeps up with demand.

Officials started discussing a plan to manage water consumption after the devastating drought in Charlotte from 2007 to 2008 and with a growing population -- they said they need a plan now.

Jeff Lineberger with Duke Energy said, “This plan looks at the next 100 years. How are we going to collectively share this resource and share in the responsibility in managing it.”

One way they plan to do that is to require customers to use less water.

Jimmy Bagley, Rock Hill's deputy city manager,  said, “It might cost you a little effort and time but it's going to pay off.”
Some critics feel customers can only scale back so much.

“That buys you a little bit a time.” said Sam Perkins with the Catawba Riverkeeper, “I think this plan needs to look at a few more options.”

The plan also includes raising lake levels but Perkins opposes that idea saying it could affect property values.

“That also creates flooding issues when they keep lakes higher,” Perkins said.

Channel 9 asked how much this plan will cost and who would foot the bill.

Lineberger said, “Right now, it is too speculative to even determine that.”

The group is currently getting feedback from local cities and businesses.

Channel 9 asked if customers would be able to share their opinions about the plans.

Officials said they welcome public opinion but in the end, the group will make the final decision.

Bagley said, “To be honest, there really is no approval needed.”

Perkins disagreed and said, “I think you need the public's input. The public is very much affected.”

The group said it will spend the rest of this year receiving feedback and revising their plan.

They do not have a deadline to move ahead with the plan.

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