Our Town Council struggled with the decision to allow OWASA to retain the ability to tap Jordan Lake water in case of emergency. Being able to do this will also allow OWASA to remain part of the regional group that would set policy on the lake’s future. As a board member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, I voted to put the Chamber on record to support OWASA retaining the five million gallons per day allocation because it made sense to me.

Some on the Council were strongly opposed to the OWASA plan, so I wonder, does supporting OWASA on this mean that I’m all wet? On Council member said that the lake is polluted and that the lake did not even need to exist. As I listened to the presentation by OWASA to the Council, I heard them say that this was an emergency “stand-by” action, and if we didn’t participate, we would lose our voice in future Jordan Lake decisions since we would no longer be at the table.

I am one of those who believe that having an insurance policy is a prudent action, and that’s why I buy life and property insurance. Why shouldn’t OWASA? They want to use Jordan Lake during any future droughts, but the agreement in effect restricts usage to emergencies unless the local governments agree to non-emergency uses. Given what is happening in Chapel Hill, and what has already happened in Carrboro, its unlikely OWASA would get consent.

The Town Council previously approved the changes in February by a vote of 7-2, and now it reversed itself 7-2. Since the towns appoint seven of the nine OWASA board members, this is going to be very interesting! No one is saying that we will run out of water any time soon, but here’s what troubles me: during the last drought, we learned to cut back on our water usage then the rates went up because demand and income went down.

OK, I get that this is a complex issue involving emergency and non-emergency use. I also get the concerns about this might work to negate our conservation ethic. But I also understand that OWASA doesn’t have a lot of flexibility in their cost model and therefore, as costs rise, it will mean a rate increase, more likely than not.

Am I all wet? I don’t think so!

Now, those are my thoughts. What are yours? Comment below!