U.S. Supreme Court removes Charlotte from Carolinas water fight
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled the City of Charlotte will not be allowed to participate as a separate party in a lawsuit between North and South Carolina over water. WFAE's Julie Rose explains: The lawsuit South Carolina filed against North Carolina specifically points to Charlotte as a main offender in draining more than its fair share of the Catawba River. Indeed, Charlotte is the largest consumer of water on the river, which stretches from the North Carolina mountains to the South Carolina coast. But the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that Charlotte will not be allowed to intervene in the lawsuit as a separate party. Rather, City Attorney Mac McCarley says Charlotte will have to rely on the state of North Carolina in court. "What we will do is continue working very closely with the state of North Carolina to protect our interests," says McCarley. "And in those situations where we think it's necessary and appropriate, we'll ask the court for permission to submit briefs on our own." South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster is pleased with the court's decision to remove Charlotte from the lawsuit. However, the ruling wasn't an outright victory for McMaster, because two other parties - Duke Energy and the Catawba River Water Supply Project - will be allowed to intervene in the case. Duke Energy is seeking a new license to continue operating its 11 dams and numerous power plants along the river. Duke spokesman Jason Walls says the company's interests span state lines. "Our interest in intervening in this lawsuit has never been about taking sides between North Carolina and South Carolina, but rather about protecting the basin-wide balance of water uses that's represented in the comprehensive relicensing agreement," says Walls. Like Duke Energy, the Catawba River Water Supply Project also has interests that cross the state line: It's a joint water and sewer entity for Union County in North Carolina and Lancaster County in South Carolina. Attorney General McMaster wanted the Supreme Court to reject all of the interveners and keep the case between North and South Carolina exclusively. He says adding parties to the lawsuit will only prolong the dispute and could mean less water for South Carolina in the end.