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Legal settlements pave way for Union to siphon Tillery

Union County can now proceed with its efforts to draw water from Lake Tillery without any further litigation by stakeholders.

Union officials announced Tuesday it had reached settlement agreements with Montgomery County and the Yadkin Riverkeeper, the two remaining legal obstacles to the interbasin transfer the state awarded last year. These latest settlements mark the end of all pending litigation for the Yadkin Regional Water Supply Project.

Union reached an agreement with Stanly County last month.

“Union County is very pleased to reach these agreements,” Union County Manager Cindy Coto said in a press release. “I am proud of the steps that our residents have already taken to conserve water and we will continue to work to protect the integrity of Lake Tillery and the Yadkin River. We can now focus all of the project’s efforts on developing the infrastructure to meet the water needs of our communities.”

In the prior settlement with Stanly County, Union must pay the county’s legal fees along with various levels of compensation including 5 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water transmitted to Union from Tillery. Stanly is also set to receive 1.5 million gallons daily (MGD) of water from the deal between Norwood and Union.

According to court documents, the agreement between Union and Montgomery calls for the reimbursement of legals fees at the sum of nearly $660,000.

Union must pay the annual membership dues for Montgomery County to be a member of the Yadkin-Pee Dee Water Management Group for five years.

Per the settlement, Union must allow Montgomery access to the Yadkin-Pee Dee river basin studies.

Another term calls for Union and the town of Wingate not to withdraw more than 16 MGD measured as a maximum monthly average from the Tillery intake through the end of 2030.

A message left with the offices of the Yadkin Riverkeeper Wednesday about its settlement terms with Union was not immediately returned.

It should be noted that the Yadkin Pee Dee River basin:

• serves a present population of 1.6 million people in the state;

•spans 21 counties and 93 municipalities;

• serves as the drinking water supply for more than 841,000 people; and

• covers more than 7,200 square miles of the Carolinas.

Union officials praised the settlements.

“These agreements are a victory for all parties,” Coto said. “The project has several regional benefits that extend beyond Union County and we’re excited to move forward with its progress.”

The YRWSP, a collaborative effort between Union County and the town of Norwood, aims to provide a new water supply source to Union County and new infrastructure for Norwood.

It includes a new water intake and pump station on Lake Tillery in Norwood, approximately 28 miles of pipeline from the intake to a new water treatment plant in Union County and approximately 11 miles of pipeline connecting the treatment plant to Union’s existing water distribution system.

Project construction is anticipated to begin in late 2019, and the water treatment facility operational by 2022.

The original agreement between Norwood and Union allows for the eventual transfer of as much as 23 MGD from Tillery.

To learn more about the Yadkin Regional Water Supply Project and view the project’s latest information, visit www.yadkinwater.com.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or ritchie.starnes@stanlynewspress.com.