Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Water Wars: Concord plans to make money by increasing Valdese shortages

Anyone notice this piece of bidness last week?
Water park developer eyeing Fort Mill, Concord, N.C., for resort
Now we know why Concord and Kannapolis want Catawba River water . . . it's the money, stupid. Who cares about the shortages their fun-times water park could be impose on upper Catawba cities and towns. Hey, we want it, we'll take it. You don't need to wash your car.

And it's another example of excellence in reporting when you read how the Charlotte area news folks didn't mention that the water from the water park might mean draw downs of recreational lakes upriver, much less actual household water restrictions.

So Concord folks and Charlotte folks are hearing all this happy news of a water park to play in and to make money off of while Morganton and Valdese folks are reading (and thinking) things like this:
“They can’t sustain growth from their own basin, so they come to ours,” says Jeff Morse, Valdese town manager. “Those are unfair rules of the game because now we have to curtail our development.”

Morse said if the area doesn’t see significant rain in the next 30 days, Valdese will implement voluntary water restrictions. That means asking people to cut back on car washing and lawn watering.

If it stays dry for 60 days, Valdese could implement mandatory restrictions. And Cabarrus County could still siphon 10 million gallons a day, said Morse.

Morganton Mayor Mel Cohen said a proposed water park should end all negations.

“I can’t imagine commissioners allowing our water to be used for that kind of project,” Cohen said.
Here's the kind of thing Charlotte/Concord folks are reading, this one's from
Cabarrus County economic developers are recommending incentives worth $2.7 million to help entice a Wisconsin developer to pick Concord for its $100 million indoor water park and hotel resort.

Great Wolf Resorts has filed concept plans with Concord for a 37-acre site off Weddington and Old Holland Roads near Speedway Boulevard. The company said it is several months away from finalizing a location for its Great Wolf Lodge, but is committed to building in the Charlotte region.

Great Wolf also is considering Fort Mill, S.C., a person familiar with the plans said, although nothing has been filed there. The company hopes to start construction in the Charlotte region late this year.

. . .

Although many Cabarrus incentives have covered three or four years, the EDC is proposing a five-year deal for Great Wolf, with a rebate of 85 percent of their county property taxes. County taxes would total an estimated $3.15 million over that period.

'We are trying to be as competitive as we can possibly be,' Cox said. 'This is a home run for any community.'
Yeah, perhaps for any community that has the water legitimately.

The Catawba River water basin transfer was approved by the NC Environmental Management Commission but is now under appeal. For more background check out this great compilation of articles in the Hickory Record about the transfer, a removal of 22 million gallons of water from the Catawba for Concord and Kannapolis.

Here's Joe Sam Queen's Senate bill 1421 that would make the water basin transfer approval process more just with drought and safe-yield provisions.

Water Commission members and contact info.

City of Hickory Interbasin Transfer Information webpage

Division of Water Resources Interbasin transfer information