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Mooresville, Duke tussle over intake

Arbitration fails to settle water issue, so a federal agency will step in.

By Joe Marusak
jmarusak@charlotteobserver.com
Joe Marusak
Columnist/reporter Joe Marusak writes about the people of Lake Norman and also covers retail, restaurant and development news.

MOORESVILLE A federal agency will try to resolve Duke Energy's dispute with Mooresville over the town's water intake on Lake Norman.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will have to step in because the town and Duke failed to settle their differences in mediation with U.S. District Court Judge Frank Bullock.

John Whittaker, a lawyer for Duke Energy, provided the update in a July 10 letter to Kimberly Bose, secretary of the commission in Washington.

Duke sued Mooresville to stop construction on its existing water intake. The company says the town needs permission from Duke and from the commission to do the work because Duke manages Lake Norman through its hydroelectric license.

Town officials have said the water belongs to citizens, not a for-profit company, and that it has the right to change a water intake on town-owned property. The intake pumps water out of the lake for drinking water and other uses

Mooresville and Duke were originally working toward a new town water intake at another spot, for which Duke sought permission from the commission.

The town then decided to upgrade its existing intake, saying permission from Duke or the commission wasn't needed because the town was using its own land.

U.S. Chief District Judge Graham Mullen had asked the federal agency to “participate” in the case if mediation failed, Whittaker's letter said. Mullen will order the agency to get involved if it doesn't do so voluntarily, the letter said.

FERC spokeswoman Barbara Connors said the agency received Whittaker's letter. but that it would await notice from Mullen before proceeding.

Greensboro lawyer Randy Tinsley, who represents the town in the case, couldn't be reached for comment last week.

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