Decisions in the face of drought

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Public water supply decisions loom ever so large now that another regional drought is upon us. According to, Polk County remains in severe drought status-D2.

Reservoirs, like Lake Adger, never looked so good, as in the face of another drought, and fleshes out this statement: ‘When water is unavailable, it is priceless’ (Gerry Hartman, 2016 LA Water Supply Appraisal report).

To the water utilities (BRWA and ICWD) that are lacking a storage facility, like Lake Adger, these times shout out this vital inventory need and to citizens or businesses dependent on their drying up wells, it shouts the need for planned public water systems.

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The fine freshly elected BOC crew will have to hit the ground running as they are to be tasked immediately with deciphering complex resource decisions regarding recommendations springing from the (ongoing) Broad River Water Authority – Water Systems Regionalization/Merger Grant Study, true public water supply-demands-uses-projections numbers for each entity, as well as dealing with Polk’s deferred liability issues of expensive dam repairs and dredging needs ($11.1 million worth).

One of the grant’s stated ‘deliverables’ is to conduct interviews with the regional stakeholder group (Polk-BRWA-ICWD) and discuss the goals and visions of each: What are those for Polk County? Will we be ready for these conversations and hard negotiations? Do we have a confident handle on the myriad of technical (tax payers) studies/reports on the subject? Will we speak/understand what a valuable asset we are bringing to the table – Lake Adger reservoir and 8MGD draws? What is our action plan that would lessen the liabilities or strengthen our assets? What kind of best management practices or investments into our asset Lake Adger can Polk promise which will protect this (multi-use) water supply source for a joint water system? Will Polk be accountable to ensure the viability of this contributed water source to meet future needs of all served-including ourselves? Do we all understand, that if Lake Adger reservoir does not remain viable and sustainable, the viability of any recommended shared regional water system will be threatened?

I would like to suggest, that the new Polk leaders organize a water planning board or a water resources advisory commission to help with this most awesome task set before them. Polk’s best interests, its resources and future water supply plans, are at stake here, so let’s become the capable team stakeholder we need to be.

Sitting in the wings are knowledgeable, expert professionals, partners and seasoned citizens waiting to offer innovative approaches and solutions, proactive management ideas, new businesses and funding opportunities, so we can build the best collaborative regional water supply plan possible – the one where everybody wins … they just need a door or platform to enter.

~ Sky Conard, Mill Spring, N.C.