Lake lawsuit still in flux

Jan. 18, 2013 @ 09:27 PM

The agency overseeing the Randleman Regional Reservoir once again is seeking the N.C. Supreme Court to review a court ruling that could cost it millions of dollars in damages.
On Thursday, the Piedmont Triad Regional Water Authority submitted a petition for rehearing to the state’s highest court in Raleigh. Last month, the Supreme Court decided not to consider an appeal by the Water Authority of local and appellate court rulings in an inverse condemnation case. Earlier in 2012, the state’s high court initially indicated it would hear the appeal, but reversed course in December.
Attorneys for the Water Authority filed the 29-page petition for rehearing with the goal of changing the justices’ intentions once again. Water Authority Executive Director Greg Flory told The High Point Enterprise that the agency doesn’t know when the Supreme Court would make a decision on the rehearing petition.
The case centers on a lawsuit brought several years ago against the Water Authority by several downstream hydropower providers. They contend that the development of Randleman Lake as a water source disrupted downstream water flow on the Deep River, hindering their ability to generate hydropower.
If the lower court rulings for the hydropower providers are upheld, the Water Authority could owe millions of dollars in damages. The ruling could reverberate financially for the city of High Point, since it’s one of the governments that helped develop the lake and receives water from Randleman Regional Reservoir. City officials recently have expressed frustration at facing paying up $1 million if the ruling against the Water Authority stands.
The other parties involved with the lake are Randolph County, Greensboro, Jamestown, Archdale and Randleman.
In its petition, the Water Authority argues the case has broad, statewide implications.
“The outcome of this case will have a fundamental impact upon the ability of those public or quasi-public bodies charged
with providing this essential resource to the citizens of our state, in a cost-effective manner, to meet their vital charge. Put plainly, the outcome of this case has the potential to affect the wallets of each and every citizen of our state that is served by a reservoir or hopes to be at any time in the future,” the Water Authority contends.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528