A legal settlement has brought Union County a step closer to beginning work on a $180 million pipeline project to draw water from Lake Tillery on the Yadkin River.
Union County gets most of its water from the Catawba River. Two years ago, it announced plans to tap the Yadkin River to meet growing demand because of population growth. The project includes a new water intake on Lake Tillery and a 21 mile pipeline to a new water treatment plant in northeastern Union County.
State officials approved what's called an Interbasin Transfer Certificate last year, allowing Union — and the town of Wingate — to shift water from the Yadkin basin to the Rocky River sub-basin. Once it's used, treated water will make its way back into the Yadkin River.
But Montgomery and Stanly counties and the Yadkin Riverkeeper appealed to the state Office of Administrative Hearings. The settlement ends all legal challenges.
Union will pay $660,000 in legal fees for Montgomery County and pay Montgomery's $5,000 annual membership fees in the Yadkin-Pee Dee Water Management Group for five years. Union and Wingate also agreed to limit water withdrawals from the Yadkin through 2030.
The project still needs federal approval, which is expected a year from now. Construction would start in late 2019 and Union County would begin using Yadkin water by 2022.