Mooresville, Duke settle on water rights

Mooresville and Duke Energy have settled their dispute over the town's right to draw water from Lake Norman and upgrade its intake equipment.

Town commissioners on Friday unanimously approved an agreement that preserves the town's rights and temporarily halts Duke's nearly year-old lawsuit.

The town agreed to continue conserving water and participating in the Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group.

The agreement “preserves the town's capacity to grow, while reflecting our mutual desire and shared responsibility to be good stewards of our water resources and environment,” Mayor Bill Thunberg said in a joint statement with Duke Energy officials after the board's vote.

Duke sued the town in December 2007, saying the town didn't have the right to upgrade its Lake Norman water-intake equipment or increase the amount of water it draws from the lake without obtaining approval from Duke and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The agency regulates Duke's power plants on the lake.

The town contended it didn't need the approvals because it already owned the necessary land and water rights.

The agreement lets the town continue withdrawing its annual average of up to 18 million gallons of water a day from the lake.

Duke Energy will seek the federal agency's approval of the agreement and then dismiss the lawsuit, according to the agreement.

Mooresville has been upgrading its water system since 2004, including its Lake Norman intake facilities on town-owned land.