Interbasin Transfer (IBT)
The Concord-Kannapolis interbasin transfer threatens the water quality in both the Catawba and Yadkin Rivers.
Catawba Riverkeeper rallied the Catawba-Wateree River Basin to unite and strongly oppose the Concord-Kannapolis interbasin transfer. Record setting attendance at public meetings where more than 1300 citizens, elected officials, local goverments, economic development interests and environmentalists voiced clear opposition to the plan successfully reduced the amount of the transfer to less than half the amount originally requested-10 million gallons.
However, the decision by the N.C. Environmental Management Commission (EMC) to approve the permenent diversion of water from the Catawba River robs the river and its communities of millions of gallons of water that would otherwise protect the environmental health and ecological diversity of the Catawba River Basin. The EMC decison was based on faulty environmental studies and errors in the procedure. Therefore, Catawba Riverkeeper felt it had no choice but to appeal the decision to grant the partial transfer. The Southern Environmental Law Center is representing us in this case.
A consortium of local governments in the Basin also filed contested cases challenging the proposed IBT. The cases have been consolidated together, and the cases are currently in the discovery stage. Catawba Riverkeeper and local governments are working together to stop millions of gallons of water from being permently drained out of our beloved neighborhood river and to encourage more efficient use of water so that further IBTs are not necessary. To view the petition for the contested case hearing please click Concord Kannapolis IBT Appeal.
In addition to the challenge by Catawba Riverkeeper and local governments to the proposed Concord-Kannapolis IBT, the South Carolina Attorney General filed a case in the United States Supreme Court challenging North Carolina's ability to unilaterally move water out of the Catawba basin and reduce the flow of water in the Catawba as it enters South Carolina. The video below explains the basis for the South Carolina lawsuit.
The Supreme Court lawsuit is currently delayed by procedural arguments over whether additional parties will be allowed to participate in the lawsuit (oral argument regarding adding additional parties is scheduled for October 2009). It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will resolve the procedural issues during the first half of 2010 and that the case will be referred back to a special master for resolution.
Interbasin transfers are bad public policy
Catawba Riverkeeper is generally opposed to inter-basin transfers for several reasons, which are outlined below:
Source River Impacts:
- Reduced water flows - fresh water and estuarine ecology and biodiversity depend on flows
- Downstream communities and aquatic life have less water for daily life
- Loss of assimilative capacity-water pollution more concentrated
- Upstream reservoirs drawn down to provide the additional water to meet the new demands of the interbasin transfer
Receiving River Impacts:
- Increases point source pollution-more wastewater discharged
- Promotes sprawl in an area that would not otherwise have the water resources to facilitate high growth
- Increases runoff pollution from resultant sprawl-adds more fecal coliform bacteria, nitrogen, phosphorus and heavy metals to the river
- Pits communities against each other because water resources are permently taken from one community and given to another community
- Results in water wars
- Years of litigation
Bottom Line: IBT’s steal the health and life from one river while increasing the pollution in another river. IBT’s lead to the decline of both rivers with costly impacts to aquatic life and the communities that depend on these rivers for drinking water, power production, recreation, tourism and environmental health.