Since it's been nearly five years since the stakeholders in Alcoa's relicensing process reached a settlement agreement, I thought a reminder of the terms agreed upon for a new license would be informative. More than 100 people, representing more than 40 organizations participated in Issue Advisory Groups and the settlement negotiation process. These are the highlights:
INCREASED WATER WITHDRAWALS: Albemarle will have the ability to increase its water withdrawals to 30 million gallons per day (pending FERC approval); the city currently uses about six to seven million gallons a day.
WATER QUALITY IMPROVEMENTS: New technology will be installed in powerhouses to increase dissolved oxygen levels and improve water quality as part of a $200 million refurbishment and upgrade.
HIGHER WATER LEVELS, EXTENDED RECREATION SEASON: The recreation season at High Rock Lake will be extended by three months (from April 1 to October 31) and water levels will remain higher during this time.
RECREATIONAL ENHANCEMENTS: A new public recreation area / beach will be developed in Rowan County, along with two new fishing piers, ten new campsites, improved portage trails and better access for fishing in the tailwaters. In addition, APGI will donate $40,000 to the Yadkin Pee-Dee River Trail Fund.
RECREATIONAL SUPPORT: Funding for operations and maintenance will be provided to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for lake access areas and to the U.S. Forest Service for recreation areas in the Uwharrie National Forest.
LAND PROTECTION: APGI will sell or donate more than 40 percent of its land holdings (more than 6,000 acres) for conservation, recreation or game lands. This includes:
Donation of 1,100 acres to expand Morrow Mountain State Park
Donation of 240 acres to U.S. Forest Service to expand Uwharrie National Forest
Donation of 63 acres to Rowan County that comprise the Eagle Point Nature Preserve.
Donation of 14 acres to the Town of Badin for a new waterfront park.
Sale of 2,310 acres to the State of N.C. or The Land Trust for Central NC along or in close proximity to High Rock Lake.
Sale of 2,420 acres to the State of N.C. or The Land Trust for Central NC along the eastern shore of Tuckertown Reservoir.
Sale of three vacant lots to the town of Badin; right of first refusal to purchase Alcoa Conference Center.
MORE FLEXIBILITY FOR PROPERTY OWNERS: The Shoreline Management Plan will be revised to provide more flexibility to homeowners regarding pier construction.
HABITAT PROTECTION: APGI will contribute $50,000 to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission to monitor freshwater mussels in the Yadkin River and will make up to $25,000 available annually to support invasive aquatic species monitoring and control efforts undertaken by the NC Division of Water Resources or NC Wildlife Resources Commission. APGI also will coordinate with Progress Energy to operate the projects so as to enhance and protect fish spawning in the lower river.
WATER SAFETY: APGI will donate $50,000 to the NC Wildlife Resources Fund to assist with construction of two new boathouses for enforcement purposes.
HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL PROTECTION: APGI will work with community partners to develop a Historical Properties Management Plan to protect cultural resources along the Project. In addition, APGI has preserved and maintains the historic Hardaway site, one of the most significant archaeological sites in North Carolina. The site will be donated to the State of North Carolina as part of the Relicensing Settlement Agreement.
SIGNATORIES: The following federal, state, and local governments and non-governmental organizations signed the Relicensing Settlement Agreement:
Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (Alcoa-Yadkin)
Badin Lake Association
Badin Historic Museum
Catawba Indian Nation
City of Albemarle, NC
High Rock Business Owners Group
High Rock Lake Association
Land Trust for Central North Carolina
Montgomery County, NC
The Nature Conservancy (S.C. Chapter)
N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(Represents the N.C. Division of Water Quality and N.C. Division of Water Resources)
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission
Pee Dee River Coalition
Piedmont Boat Club
Rowan County, NC
Salisbury/Rowan Association of Realtors
S.C. Coastal Conservation League
S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control
S.C. Department of Natural Resources
Town of Badin, NC
U.S. Forest Service
Uwharrie Point Community Association