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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Is Aqua North Carolina in bed with 751 developers?

Posted by on Wed, Nov 28, 2012 at 7:07 PM

The private water company Aqua North Carolina has asked to buy water from Chatham County that could be used for the 751 South project.

Chatham County Commissioners voted 4-1 to direct staff to draft a contract that would allow Aqua North Carolina to buy 850,000 gallons per day from the county. Sally Kost was the lone no vote at the Nov. 19 meeting—the Monday before Thanksgiving.

Kost told the Indy tonight that she specifically asked an Aqua representative if the the water allocation had anything to do with 751. Kost said the Aqua representative responded, "We've talked with them," adding that the company would take a "regional approach," including Durham, to reselling the water.

Here's another twist: Chatham County buys its water allocation from Durham. So in effect, Aqua would sell Durham water to not only Chatham customers, but it could also sell the water back to Durham customers, possibly to those in the proposed 751 development. The water allocation comes from Jordan Lake.

Durham has not finalized an agreement with Chatham County on water allocations.

Kost also blogged about the meeting on her website.

The controversial 751 South development would include 1,300 homes and as much as 600,000 square feet of retail development on 167 acres in the sensitive Jordan Lake watershed. In February, the City of Durham rejected a request from SDD to provide water to the development.

In June SDD and its lobbyist approached a state lawmaker, Tim Moore of Cleveland County, to sponsor a bill forbidding a city from denying water and sewer service to a project in its designated “urban growth area” outside municipal limits.

751 South lies in such an area in southern Durham County. The bill failed.

In July, Durham County Commissioners agreed to provide sewer to 751 South.

Kost told the Indy that she advised her fellow commissioners that "before we do anything we need to talk to Durham."

The Indy has confirmed with a Durham official that Chatham County contacted Durham's utilities department about the issue today.

It's notable that such a significant request was put on the agenda for a meeting just days before Thanksgiving. In addition, Kost noted, the title of the agenda item was vague: "A discussion and vote on Aqua North Carolina's request to purchase capacity in the county's water facility."

Aqua North Carolina has had water quality problems in parts of the state, including Western Wake County and Mint Hill.

This post originally stated that Cal Cunningham, an attorney for SDD, approached Tim Moore. The story has been corrected.

Check back for updates.

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After talking to 751 South developers, Aqua NC asks to buy water from Chatham County for resale—to whom?

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