Brunswick, Columbus counties discuss future of Cape Fear locks and dams

Commissioners support letter of intent

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Two of the counties included in the Lower Cape Fear Water and Sewer Authority discussed the future of a series of locks and dams on the Cape Fear River Monday night.

Commissioners in both Columbus and Brunswick counties each passed separate resolutions Monday night supporting the submission of a letter of intent to transfer the Cape Fear Locks and Dams to the Fayetteville Public Works Commission.

Located near Riegelwood, about 39 miles from the mouth of the Cape Fear River, Lock & Dam No. 1 is the intake point for 80 percent of the drinking water provided by CFPUA; nearly 600,000 customers rely on it as a water source.

The US army corps of engineers owns and operates the locks and damns now but has been evaluating “disposition” of the three dams, meaning the Corps would no longer be responsible for operating and maintaining them. USACE recently finalized its recommendation that the dams be “de-authorized” or turned over to another, non-federal governmental group.

Once the US Army Corps of Engineers receives the letters of intent, congress must make a decision to de-authorize the locks and dams and “determine a willing non-federal entity to obtain ownership.”

Officials expect the real estate transaction process will take two to five years.

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