City of Asheville
Ownership for Protection
Acting Entity: Regional Water Authority of Asheville, Buncombe, and Henderson
Contact Person: Charlie Casey
Population Served: 120,000
Water Supply: Reservoir, French Broad River, Regional Water Authority of Asheville, Buncombe, and Henderson
PWS ID: 0111010
· Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC)
· none needed
· This is a voluntary, permanent and inexpensive method of Source Water Protection.
Summary: The town of Asheville has owned the land comprising its watershed since the early 1900s. In 1995, CTNC contacted the waterplant superintendent, Charlie Casey, about further protecting Asheville's watershed by placing a conservation easement on the property. The easement would be designed to exclude certain activities on the land, such as commercial development or residential subdivisions, with its primary purposes being to conserve the natural landscape and protect the water resources. Casey liked the idea and presented it to his manager, Mike Holcombe, the Director of Water Resources. At that time, the possibility of timber cutting in the watershed was being discussed. Holcombe recognized that in addition to protecting the water supply, a conservation easement would allow selective forest management on the watershed while preserving the aesthetic value of the land and protecting water quality. The watershed area can be viewed from the Blue Ridge Parkway, a nationally renowned tourist attraction boasting great natural beauty.
The next step involved bringing the concept to Jim Westbrook, the City Manager. He too liked the idea and brought it before the City Council. The conservation easement met no opposition in Asheville and the Asheville City Council signed the idea into law. The City of Asheville has now fully protected its 18,000-acre watershed. The easement is monitored at least once a year by CTNC, by flying over the area by plane and driving or hiking much of the property. This ensures that the provisions of the easement are being maintained and the water quality is being protected.