Out of control for 75 years

Published 5:35 pm Monday, July 6, 2015

To the editor:

Two years ago I listened as four members of the current board of commissioners worked through their economic development process. One of the themes often repeated was that they wanted to create jobs that would let the young people of Polk County stay here, or come back here, to raise their families.

Now the current BOC’s Republican majority wants to sign a contract giving Inman Campobello Water District (ICWD) rights to Polk’s water for 75 years… enough time for those same young people to raise children, grandchildren, even great-grandchildren.

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Seventy-five years! Think of the tremendous changes in Polk over the past 75 years. According to long-time Extension Agent Paul Culbertson, who arrived here in 1946, Polk County had only two paved roads then – Highways 176 and 108. There were just two phones in the county, at the sheriff’s office and the extension office. It took a week for local letters to be delivered. Most families farmed for a living, for an average annual income of $700.

1946 was only 69 years ago! Imagine if county leaders back then – based on their experience and what the county was like at that time – felt they were best qualified to decide how Polk County should be living, managing finances and using our resources in the world of 2015.

Seventy-five years will bring about unimaginable change. Yet the BOC majority wants to sign a contract – based on their experience and what the county is like now – that would tie the hands of the very young people they cared so much about two years ago … and their children and grandchildren. A contract that would mean that none of them could ever make a single independent decision about their water resources for the good of the county and the people who live here, up to 75 years from now.

Water is the world’s most important and valuable resource and it’s only going to get more important and valuable as it becomes scarcer. But these four commissioners apparently believe – without any unbiased expert opinions sought – that they can judge better than these future citizens will be able to, how Polk County’s water should be handled 20, 50, 75 years down the road.

Shame on them. None of us can possibly know better than those future generations will, how to handle their water resources in the times in which they live. They will need the flexibility to do what’s right for Polk County in 2035, 2065 and 2090 – yes, that’s 75 years from now.

There are many things wrong with this proposed contract: It gives water rights to a S.C. entity and allows them to sell our water to whomever, without Polk County getting any revenue. They could even sell their rights to one of the big for-profit water companies like Aqua NC, which now owns 800 systems in the state. But worst of all is the length of the contract – 75 years for an outside entity to control water resources that Polk County taxpayers have paid and are paying for.

There are still seven years left on the current agreement between Polk and ICWD. There is no need – and no benefit to the county – to sign the kind of contract the BOC majority is proposing. On the contrary, it could hurt citizens of Polk County for generations to come.

The BOC could sign this contract within two months. Please let your voice be heard before it’s too late.


Judy Heinrich
Green Creek