A rainy night in Northside

Chapel Hill voters, you did me proud. On a rainy night in a transitional neighborhood with the Yankees on TV clinching the American League East title, you turned out in droves to meet the candidates for Town Council and mayor. You filled Hargraves Center parking lot and every marginally legal parking space along North Roberson and side streets. Were it not for the weather and shorter days, you probably would have taken up every bike rack, too, which would have made a nice contrast to the preponderance of shiny SUVs.

Last night’s candidate forum was jointly hosted by the Sierra Club and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, a combination that discouraged candidates from talking out of both sides of their mouth. Not that some didn’t try. From listening to the responses of some of the incumbents about whether they supported OWASA’s request to stake a larger claim on Jordan Lake water allocation rights, you’d have thought the council agreed unanimously to OWASA’s plan earlier this spring, when Matt Czajkowski was the only one of last night’s panel who actually voted for it.

The joint sponsorship attempted to depolarize the labeling in years past of candidates being either pro-environment or pro-economy. The forum questions – long and poorly punctuated – recognized that people can want to tread lightly on the Earth in very expensive shoes.

All of the candidates for Town Council participated, as did two of the three mayoral candidates (Kevin Wolff was a no-show). The incumbents unleashed no surprises, though the strengthening alliance between Czajkowski and Mark Kleinschmidt showed itself at times. Kleinschmidt repeatedly talked beyond his time limit, which irked moderator Mark Schulz of The Chapel Hill News no end.
The challengers offered some refreshing breaths of fresh thinking. They had different degrees of political savvy. This election in particular it will be important to pay attention to what candidates say and do, rather than how polished they sound. Council candidate Carl Schuler actually used some of his 45 seconds to cogitate before speaking.

All but mayoral candidate Tim Sookram supported the 1/4-cent sales tax increase on the ballot in November. No one wanted to mess with the rural buffer, though council candidate Jason Baker joined Kleinschmidt in saying he’d consider creating a buffer on the south end of town that borders Chatham County.

The brief time to respond to each question afforded candidates little time for much more than sound bites, but the audience did get a flavor of the different mindsets each candidate brings. Good decisions rarely come from pat answers. You’ll have a few more chances to listen to the candidates at the following forums:

Monday, Oct. 3, 7:30-9 p.m., Council Chamber, Town Hall
Tuesday, Oct. 18, 3-4:30 p.m., Carol Woods auditorium; council candidates only
Tuesday, Oct. 25, 3-4:30 p.m., Carol Woods auditorium; mayoral candidates only
– Nancy Oates

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34 Comments

  1. Terri Buckner

     /  September 22, 2011

    There seems to be a lot of confusion about OWASA’s Jordan Lake allocation. OWASA is not planning to ask for a larger allocation. We have the allocation now and have been paying for it annually for many years. However, with our current Level II access, we can only use the allocation to buy treated water from Durham or Cary (which we have done in past years). The proposed change is to install an intake valve so that, in the event that our community needs water above and beyond what is available from our local sources, we will have a direct tap for raw water from Jordan. Durham and Cary can always so no to a purchase request, so having a direct tap reduces our risk in the event of severe drought. In order to change from a Level II (purchase from others) to a Level I (install our own tap) allocation, there is a local document that needs to be modified, and the BOA/TC have not agreed to the modification.

    As I understand it, the issue that is preventing the BOA/TC from authorizing the change is determining ‘when’ OWASA would turn on the tap if the tap existed. The objections I heard in the public discussions this past spring focused on conservation/growth (or ‘when’ to use the allocation). It would be helpful if the candidates could address these as separate issues: 1) should OWASA have direct access to their current allocation (supply) and 2) under what conditions should OWASA plan to utilize that allocation.

  2. Nancy Oates

     /  September 22, 2011

    Thank you for clarifying that, Terri.

  3. Mark Marcoplos

     /  September 22, 2011

    Actually, while an intake on the west shore of Jordan was a key part of the discussion a couple of years ago, the current proposal would allow OWASA to access Jordan water through the existing infrastructure (i.e. through Durham). In effect, the water might not actually always be from Jordan, but could be from Durham’s reservoirs. Durham would then replenish from Jordan.

    The original debate last spring centered around the concept of conservation. The large majority of Council members wanted more clarification and more of a commitment to conservation first. Over the last several months, this issue has been further clarified to the point that many are now more comfortable with the approach. Fortunately, a majority of Council members took the wiser and more contempative approach to this issue that has resulted in a better understanding of the issue and highlighted conservation as the most beneficial approach to water security.

  4. Brandon Rector

     /  September 22, 2011

    Kevin Wolfe always runs for mayor (seemingly) without actually “running.” Is he laundering money or something?

  5. Wolff not Wolfe (as in “You Can’t Go Home Again”). I believe it’s a matter of principle with Kevin. When he first ran he said he thought it was best for democracy if then mayor Foy didn’t run unopposed.

    As far as OWASA, there are already a number of agreements in place providing water in emergency circumstances. There has been no formal change or even suggestion of change in Chapel Hill’s access rights (which, as Terri notes, OWASA pays for each year). Right now it is speculative whether the State will do anything.

    As far as the “debate” on the inter-local government agreement – the Water and Sewer Management, Planning, and Boundary Agreement (WSMPBA) – it twists on what constitutes an “emergency”.

    Without Lake Jordan we still have easy access to more than double the daily consumption of water based on the 2010 Long Range Water Plan. Lake Jordan water, unlike other supplies, will come with a number of downsides.

    No one, at least from what I know, has suggested giving up access to Lake Jordan in the case of an extraordinary crisis. Building too many East54 type developments, to me, doesn’t constitute an emergency – it’s just bad planning.

    The long range water report projects a range of scenarios – the high side based on the following criteria:

    “Expected Demand” Assumptions:

    • The pace of local development activity will return to the 20-year average of approximately 560 new meter equivalents (MEs) per year within the next two to three years and will continue at this linear rate through 2060. (One ME represents the water demand exerted by a typical single family residential customer. A non-residential or institutional customer with greater needs requires a larger meter, and therefore represents multiple MEs.) Although this may be an unrealistically high projection of future growth, none of the long-range planning documents of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Orange County, with planning horizons that end in 2035, provide any further guidance.

    • The future development profile of OWASA’s service area will follow recent trends with respect to the overall mix of single versus multi-family residential, commercial, and other uses.

    • UNC Central Campus and UNC Hospitals building space will increase by 4.6 million gross square feet (GSF) (per the 2006 UNC Campus Master Plan), at a constant rate of approximately 0.16 million GSF per year through 2028, which is the projected Central Campus buildout date.

    • Carolina North will build out to a total of 8 million GSF at a constant rate of 0.17 million GSF per year through 2060. Until more detailed information is available, demand projections assume the same mix of water use and consumption rates (gallons per day per GSF) as currently observed on the Central Campus and UNC Hospitals. The “Expected Demand” projection assumes that 25% of the total water needs at Carolina North will be met with reclaimed (RCW) or other non-potable water (NPW).

    • RCW demand by UNC/UNC Hospitals will increase through 2028 (the estimated date of Central Campus buildout) per previous estimates provided by UNC.

    • Water consumption rates assumed for major user groups are based on actual OWASA averages observed from 2004-2007, when annual demand remained stable. (Consumption during 2008 was 11% less than the preceding 4 years.)

    “Higher Demand” Scenario – Same assumptions as for “Expected Demands,” except for the following:

    • One new high density mixed use development project – similar in scale to the East 54 project currently under construction in Chapel Hill – with water demands equivalent to approximately 150 new single family homes added each year through 2060.

    • New non-residential (non-UNC) development through 2060 is 25% greater than expected.

    • UNC Central Campus and UNC Hospitals growth through 2028 is 25% greater than expected.

    • Carolina North water demand is 25% higher than expected and no RCW or non-potable water use occurs.

    One new East54, alone, moves us to the high side of the demand curve. There will still be adequate water in that case. The question, though, is how many of those type developments will the “rah rah growth at any cost” crowd try to shove through?

    Last night a few candidates, notably Donna Bell, demonstrated a nuanced view of this issue. Just as the SAPFO (school adequate public facility ordinance) is supposed to serve as a feedback loop on residential development – ratcheting down when the school system can’t handle the influx of students – there needs to be a new awareness of the constraint water plays in local development decisions.

    There is lots of water available today with plenty more to meet a sustainable growth pattern over the next 50 years – all without tapping the 5MG/day Lake Jordan allocation. Why, then, is the Chamber, UNC’s Real Estate and Facilities folks pushing so hard for less than emergency (at least as most folks would define it) use of that water?

  6. Whoops – left out a phrase in the above, that’s one new East54 a year – “One new high density mixed use development project – similar in scale to the East 54 project currently under construction in Chapel Hill – with water demands equivalent to approximately 150 new single family homes added each year through 2060.”

  7. Terri Buckner

     /  September 22, 2011

    Land use planning is an important consideration, but we also have to factor in changing weather patterns. In 2002, the OWASA supply was down to 30-40% full. How we plan in such a changing environment has to take into account more than just numbers of occupants. We can’t predict weather patterns so all we have to go on is history and the droughts are becoming more prolonged and intense.

    Also, we need to look at how much of a role conservation can really play. It’s taken over 20 years to reach the county’s waste reduction goals, and those reductions have occurred in a stair-step pattern as new industries have developed to utilized the waste. With water, we should plan for a similar incremental conservation pattern. I personally have serious concerns about using reclaimed water for anything other than a closed-loop system (such as the UNC chillers). Eventually we will figure out how to remove the chemicals and pharmaceuticals to make reclamation safer, but we don’t know when that will be. We also have to factor in sludge management. As with waste, disposal is expensive and may touch on social justice issues.

    The bottom line for me is that our community dialogue on land-use planning needs to be more nuanced. We need to be modelling population growth, water/sewer capacity, and school capacity as well as the economics that tie it all together. Numbers for any of these factors in isolation of the others are superficial and suspect.

  8. Scott Maitland

     /  September 22, 2011

    I think the Chamber and UNC are simply for the idea of claiming a right that is ours in case some future situation – from development to economic development to global warming to something we don’t even know about yet – changes water availability and/or use.
    Water is a complete game changer. Like air, you don’t realize how important it is until you don’t have it. Isn’t it just smart policy to keep all options open when it doesn’t cost us to do so?
    Using water policy to force a specific development pattern is a stupid and dangerous game that also bypasses the democratic institutions and processes we have put in place to handle development.

  9. DOM

     /  September 22, 2011

    Well said, Scott. It really is as simple as that.

  10. Wish I could have said it as well Scott! Bravo.

  11. Scott, if you add the 5mg/d allocation from Lake Jordan for typical use then what do you do when that runs out?

    As far as global warming or “things we don’t know about”, surely that will affect Lake Jordan as much as our secured resources.

    Which brings us to what are our secured resources? At least 3-4 times, if we’re willing to go deep into the quarry, as what we’re using today (6+ mg/d). The 5mg/d Lake Jordan allocation is almost what we use now.

    DOM, it is rarely “as simple as that” when it comes to balancing growth against costs. Right now water isn’t a major component of the development discussion. I believe that the Lake Jordan issue is changing that – which is for the better.

  12. One last point. Look at what water is available in a 100 mile radius (which is 15 miles shorter than the main aqueduct into NYC). Every source that could feed Chapel Hill in that radius either is already completely conscripted or has multiple allocations already secured. At some point we will have to learn to develop within our water capacity. The 5mg/d Lake Jordan allocation only delays that day at a cost (it isn’t free). While the water is drinkable, at least now, with treatment it is no where near the quality of OWASA’s secured supplies. If OWASA decides to participate directly in tapping the Lake, there is a capital and carrying cost. And as development continues in Chatham and Wake, the supply and quality only stands to be diminished. On top of that, it is directly adjacent to a nuke plant, is within the shale basin that folks want to frack in and is susceptible to many more ills than any of the wisely acquired resources that OWASA has secured.

  13. OK, this really is the last comment. OWASA has been paying to keep our allocation for years. OWASA will continue to pay to keep our allocation. The State has no plan to take away our Level 2 rights if we don’t move to Level 1.

    Level 1 mandates withdrawals within 5 years irrespective of conditions (in other words, in less than emergency conditions).

    To quote the Mar. 2010 NC Division of Water Resources Lake Jordan overview:

    Level I allocations are made based on 20-year projections and when withdrawals are planned to begin within five years of receiving the allocation.

    http://www.ncwater.org/Permits_and_Registration/Jordan_Lake_Water_Supply_Allocation/JL4-Information-Meeting-2-24-2010-Water-Supply-Allocation.pdf

    Here’s what OWASA called for in changing the WSMPBA:

    In its present form, we believe the WSMPBA may be construed as impeding OWASA’s
    access to Jordan Lake by its broad prohibition of all cross-jurisdictional water transfers except in times of emergency. In fact, our Long-Range Water Supply Plan identifies OWASA’s Jordan Lake water supply allocation as an important insurance policy for times of special need, but some of those circumstances may not qualify as “emergencies” under current language of the WSMPBA. The purpose of the proposed clarifying language is to avoid any future misunderstandings or disagreements that might impede the timely access to our Jordan Lake allocation, and to provide greater certainty for OWASA’s water supply planning and management efforts.

    Note, the issue outlined is not the loss of the Level 2 allocation but the fear that cross-jurisdictional transfers for less than emergency needs will be impeded by the agreement. In other words, the elective boards would have a say in whether conditions merited tapping Lake Jordan and – the scary part it appears – might actually exercise that right.

    Here’s the 2009 Hazen/Sawyer analysis of developing that tap into Lake Jordan under a joint agreement (which is the only way it will be done now).

    http://www.owasa.org/client_resources/whatwedo/appendix%20vii.pdf

    It isn’t cheap by any stretch – the cheapest option at $45M+ – which, presumably, would be borne by a coalition of partners. The more partners, the more entanglements.

    Compare that to the less than $40M option of expanding deep access at the quarry – which is totally under OWASA’s control.

    On so many dimensions, going to Lake Jordan doesn’t make sense.

  14. John Kramer

     /  September 23, 2011

    I thought it was OWASA’s job to keep water coming out of the tap. They have a whole building full of planners and engineers. If they are hooked up to Jordan Lake you can bet it is for sound reasons, all related to keeping the water flowing. I am glad that they know it is not their job to play Development Jesus.

    Like Mr. Maitland said, Orange County needs to quit trying to control its resident’s behavior through social engineering efforts. It doesn’t work. And it is annoying.

  15. Terri Buckner

     /  September 23, 2011

    It does sound simple to say that we should keep all of our options open. But if you listen to the objections from the Carrboro BOA when revision of the WSMBPA came before them, they were asking for OWASA to provide feedback on supply in order to maintain water quality and live within our natural boundaries. Chapel Hill withdrew their support for the policy modification, and I assume it was for similar reasons. The towns control land use policy and certain iterations of elected officials choose to impose strict controls to ensure the future looks the way they want it to look. I think that’s the issue with Jordan, meaning this really isn’t as simple as keeping all options open.

    Personally, I think it’s a good conversation for the community to have. We just all need to understand the issues before making decisions that could have serious impact on the future. I’m not sure we all understand the nuances associated with the choices at this time.

  16. Scott Maitland

     /  September 23, 2011

    Unfortunately, I buried the lead in my original post.

    “Using water policy to force a specific development pattern is a stupid and dangerous game that also bypasses the democratic institutions and processes we have put in place to handle development.”

    Will and Terri, although you make good points about the merits of water usage etc., I don’t think that our electorate understands the far reaching implications of this rather arcane (to most ) issue and to use it as a de facto land use and management decision truly removes it from the vigorous and democratic processes that both Carrboro and Chapel Hill have to decide land growth.

    By the way Will, your straw man approach to this issue (“the evil development power axis will use all the water it can”) doesn’t fit with the history of both towns and, although a legitimate idea to consider, should not be the driving force in any intellectual decision.

  17. Terri Buckner

     /  September 23, 2011

    Since it is the rural buffer agreement between Orange County, Hillsborough, Carrboro and Chapel Hill that imposed water supply as a development issue, I’m not sure I understand your point, Scott.

  18. Scott, I have never said anything like “evil development power axis” at any time in the last decade let alone during this discussion. Please don’t put those words in my mouth.

    I also have been quite clear about OWASA’s role in this – it isn’t OWASA’s job to control land use policy – that’s the domain of the local governments but OWASA does have a role in reminding those governments of the real constraints water imposes on growth and also the promises we made to the wider community in securing the best sources of water in the region.

    As far as growth over-running our ability to support it – there are many examples of where that is already the case- from running over the SAPFO limits, to the multi-light delays around East54, to the growing impairments of our watercourses (which, if continuing at our current pace, will require expensive remediation efforts to comply with the Lake Jordan rules), etc.

    The costs of dealing with many of the consequences of over-running our infrastructure limits get shoved off on the local taxpayer, some who are really struggling to keep their homes and stay in this community.

    I’ve always tried to be clear on this, so I’ll try again.

    Water is a constrained resource. Whether we tap Lake Jordan or not, there is a natural constraint to growth based on the amount of water we have locally as OWASA’s 2010 Long Range Plan, noted above, outlines without tapping Lake Jordan, there is plenty of capacity,to build out Chapel Hill).

    There are a range of options to deal with that constraint. We should be discussing that constraint as part of the land use policy framework.

    There is additional nuance, of course. When OWASA was, as some of our rural neighbors see it, seizing their farms and property to expand our water supply, it and the local governments assured the community it was for the public good – that the expansion would secure enough water to fuel growth for a very long time. The 2010 Long Range plan reaffirms that under the caveat that we can only build so much (which is still quite a bit).

    With the two lakes and the quarry, we have wisely secured a tremendous amount of water which is solely under OWASA’s control. There is incredible value in that.

    Tapping Lake Jordan, with all its problems and entanglements FOR LESS THAN EMERGENCY NEEDS just doesn’t make sense.

  19. DOM

     /  September 23, 2011

    CitizenWill

    “If words were pennies you’d be a billionaire.”
    – Henry David Thoreau

  20. George C

     /  September 23, 2011

    “Scott, I have never said anything like “evil development power axis” at any time in the last decade let alone during this discussion. Please don’t put those words in my mouth.”

    Will, I agree I have never heard you use those words. I just assumed Scott was putting his own interpretation on your earlier statement:
    “The question, though, is how many of those type developments will the “rah rah growth at any cost” crowd try to shove through? ”

    Since you didn’t identify who you see as the ‘rah rah growth at any cost’ crowd you did leave it open to interpretation.

  21. Nancy Oates

     /  September 23, 2011

    Part of this discussion comes down to trust: When OWASA execs say they want the allocation as insurance for emergencies, do we trust that their definition of emergency is the same as ours, or do we trust council members’ definition of emergency more?

  22. George C

     /  September 23, 2011

    It seems to me that the BOA (Carrboro), the Town Council (Chapel Hill) and OWASA should be able to work out a definition of emergency that all three can agree to, or at least be willing to live with (compromise, anyone?). If not, we’ve probably got an awful lot of work ahead of us.

  23. Terri Buckner

     /  September 23, 2011

    I agree completely George.

  24. Nancy, George – at the risk of becoming a multi-billionaire, there is already defined water emergency conditions by Chapel Hill encapsulated in ARTICLE X. WATER CONSERVATION STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS of the Town’s ordinances.

    I disagree that it is a matter of trust – it is a matter of policy Nancy which is quite different.

    OWASA’s stated policy is to provide water/sewer as per the needs of its customers.

    The municipalities have a lot of competing and complementary policy that surrounds consumption of that water.

    For instance, OWASA make recommendations on the water restriction policies but creating the policy and enforcing it lies squarely in the local governments hands.

    A few reiterated points, as it appears folks keep returning to some misconceptions.

    1) OWASA currently has access to emergency water supplies including Jordan Lake.

    2) I’ve asked OWASA and the Town for examples where the current language of WSMPBA impeded access to emergency water supplies since it was enacted. I’ve been told consistently and repeatedly that it hasn’t.

    3) Local elected folks for our municipalities must have oversight and control of their own growth and water management policy – it is not the domain of OWASA and the responsibility for determining appropriate set points for tapping Jordan Lake lies squarely in their purview.

    4) While the change to WSMPBA continues to be couched in terms of a POTENTIAL impediment to access to emergency supplies, the actual language change opens up a range of cross-jurisdictional transfers of water which currently fall outside the municipalities policy guidelines.

    5) There has been no formal policy changes at the State level that puts our 5mg/d Level 2 allocation at risk. Every comment I’ve heard from OWASA on the matter is couched as speculation – or anticipation of such a change sans any formal motion to do so.

    6) The requested ordinance change has doesn’t couch the change in terms of emergency access but does highlight that this is to streamline Hillsborough’s and Orange County’s access to Jordan Lake.

    http://chapelhillpublic.novusagenda.com/AttachmentViewer.aspx?AttachmentID=7067&ItemID=1300

    7) Here’s the actual language of the change:

    “The provisions in this subsection do not apply to the treatment of and
    transfer of water available through OWASA’s, Hillsborough’s, or Orange
    County’s Jordan Lake water supply storage allocations for use by OWASA,
    Hillsborough, or Orange County customers. Nothing herein shall be
    construed to prevent OWASA, Hillsborough, or Orange County from
    entering into agreements as necessary to provide for water transfers to
    afford OWASA, Hillsborough, or Orange County access to their respective
    Jordan Lake allocation.”

    This change applies to both the emergency and non-emergency inter-jurisdictional transfers.

    The contention hangs on what opening access implies OWASA has said that they want to move towards a Level 1 allocation status to firmly secure that water.

    8)

  25. Whoops! Hit the enter button accidentally.

    8) “Level I allocations are made based on 20-year projections and when withdrawals are planned to begin within five years of receiving the allocation. ”

    Allocations

    The State of North Carolina has been assigned the use of the entire water supply storage in Jordan Lake and, under G.S. 143-354(a)(11), can assign this storage to local government having a need for water supply storage. The North Carolina Administrative Code (15A NCAC 2G.0500) describes the specific procedures to be used in allocating the Jordan Lake water supply storage.

    Allocations fall into two categories. Level I allocations are made based on 20-year water need projections and when withdrawals are planned to begin within five years of receiving the allocation. Level II allocations are made based on longer term needs of up to 30 years.

    Initial allocations of water supply from Jordan Lake were made in 1988. At that time, 42 percent of the water supply pool was allocated; however, some original allocation holders have since released their allocations. Currently, 44 percent of the water supply pool is allocated. Note that allocations are actually a percentage of the water supply pool and not a rate of withdrawal. However, for convenience allocations are frequently expressed in MGD, since 100 percent of water supply storage has an estimated safe yield of 100 MGD.

    Existing rules limit water supply allocations that will result in diversions out of the Lake’s watershed to 50 percent of the 100 MGD total water supply yield. The EMC may review and revise this limit based on experience in managing the Lake and on the effects of changes in the Lake’s watershed that affect its yield. Currently, 28 MGD of the 100 MGD yield is approved to be diverted out of the Lake’s watershed.

    http://www.ncwater.org/Permits_and_Registration/Jordan_Lake_Water_Supply_Allocation/backgrnd.php

    9) Level 1 allocations are for expected use – not just emergency use – within 5 years.

  26. George C

     /  September 23, 2011

    Will,

    I’m not taking a position on this -one way or another. I’m just saying let’s resolve the issue and move on to a lot of other things – many of which may be more urgent and important. And if the three governing bodies (OWASA, BOA, TC) can’t agree then perhaps we should put them all together in one room (locked) with a large table (and no chairs). And just so they don’t starve we can offer them snacks (potato chips, salted peanuts, salted popcorn) and all the water (non Jordan Lake) they can drink. And for those who believe they can quickly and amicably reach a equitable and satisfactory solution we can offer all the cold beer they can drink.

    Oh, did I mention, if they need to go to the bathroom the doors remain locked unless an agreement has been reached.

    I’m just having a little fun but seriously, we have a lot of very serious problems that need to be addressed and unlike our politicians in Washington we can’t keep putting off solutions forever.

  27. Scott Maitland

     /  September 23, 2011

    Thank you George for explaining my paraphrasing of Will’s comment. Will, if that’s not what you intended to mean, what did you intend to mean?

    Terri, the rural buffer doesn’t govern in-fill developments like 140 Franklin, 123, Carolina North etc. These projects will need water. Get my point?

    Finally, Will, I take issue with many things but since I don’t apparently have the hours that you do to devote to this blog, I will simply suggest that the heart of our disagreement is your point #3 above.

    I think you have it backwards. Our municipalities should view all decisions through the three lenses of the triple bottom line and not overly obsess on water availability. OWASA should endeavor to provide the water needed for the decisions that the municipalities make and let them know when water won’t be available.

    The very reason that taxpayers struggle is because we didn’t allow enough commercial (and no, that’s not just retail) development. Commercial development will require water. Chapel Hill and Carrboro should ensure that they have access to their complete share of water or Durham, Cary and Raleigh are going to drain our community of any possibility of acquiring the needed tax rate balance to ensure an affordable community in the future.

  28. George, how about a hot room with two big jugs of water – one drawn from Jordan, one drawn from Cane Creek?

    I understand that you don’t see this as a priority which does trouble me when considered within the context of the Comprehensive Plan revamp – an effort which you’ve been appointed to lead. Does that mean you don’t believe that talking about carrying capacity has any relevance to that discussion?

    Scott, there are folks that seem to endorse development irrespective of considerations beyond their own project. I’ve characterized elsewhere as if they think that the potential negative impacts of development end at the property line, while the positive impacts seem to ripple out broadly both in space and time (including, it appears, retroactively improving Downtown).

    I know you have a nuanced view of development in Town and have appreciated your sharing your viewpoint with both me and the community.

    I agree on where you and I find the sticking point. I maintain OWASA shouldn’t and really can’t make land use policy.

    I’m trying to document this issue as fully as I can on this ‘blog so that other folks interested might stumble upon the links and discussion and have enough material to draw their own conclusions.

    Finally, I’ve consistently called for increasing our commercial development. I challenged the Town, as you know, at our own Lot #5 project, to consider office space, which was rejected, and commercial space beyond the boutique profile the majority of Council seemed to want.

    A lot of what I proposed throughout a few election cycles is now what we’re starting to focus on…

  29. George C

     /  September 23, 2011

    Will,

    I’m not saying it isn’t a priority. Indeed I think it is indeed an important issue. I’m saying that the groups involved need to begin to sit down TOGETHER and get it resolved. But if nobody can even agree on what constitutes an emergency we have a big problem. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is an important topic for the Comprehensive Planning process – but that will be a 9 month process. Is there nothing that can be accomplished in the meantime?

  30. Terri Buckner

     /  September 23, 2011

    May I please reiterate that OWASA’s decision to move to level II allocation from Jordan is due to concerns over the changing frequency and intensity of droughts and NOT to issues of currently planned growth? We have an adequate supply of water for currently planned build out, unless we encounter another severe and prolonged drought like we had a few years ago. There are also concerns that we can only push conservation so far under current technologies so in a future drought, we would not have the same ability to use conservation to stretch our supply. Until everyone accepts the nature of the problem (for want of a better word), there can be no negotiating.

  31. DOM

     /  September 23, 2011

    CitizenWill –

    In my opinion, you have a habit of distorting peoples’ comments to strengthen your own arguments. You lose legitimacy when you do this.

  32. Scott Maitland

     /  September 24, 2011

    Terri – I agree with your last statement completely.

    Will – I really appreciate the level of detail you have brought to this issue and I feel you and I often share common ground although I think we travel different roads to get there.

    George – We have never met, but your volunteering to lead the 20/20 effort is the first step to sainthood 🙂

  33. ActLocal

     /  September 24, 2011

    I realized several years ago that combining irresponsible growth with increasingly unreliable weather will only lead to a disaster.

    OWASA was approving a double-digit increase in rates for the second year in a row. Connection charges had fallen off — due to the downturn in the real estate market — and existing users had to pay for the aggressive capital improvement plan that had been launched to accommodate the growth that had failed to materialize.

    Thank Goodness! We were running out of water. Durham’s supply had fallen to less than THIRTY DAYS!

    Had the connections occurred, there would not have been enough water to flush the toilets. Existing users had to pay for connections that had not occurred, while thanking their lucky stars that they at least had water in their toilets.

    Nobody listened. I have given up on any rationale behavior ever coming out of OWASA.

    Terri, good luck — but I don’t think that you have a clue about what we are in for.

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