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H2GO, Belville move to end 2-year lawsuit, quicken construction of reverse-osmosis plant

Updated: Feb. 25, 2020 at 1:48 PM EST
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO and the Town of Belville submitted motions to withdraw their appeals in a two-year-long court case between the two entities and the Town of Leland.

In April 2019, H2GO and the Town of Belville appealed a judge’s decision to return to H2GO the assets currently held by the Town of Belville.

The decision to withdraw the appeals comes after a settlement agreement was reached by H2GO and Belville to end the 2-year-long legal battle and resume construction of the reverse-osmosis plant.

“The best way to move forward was to drop those appeals and to move on. We’ll follow the judge’s initial order. All the assets will be returned to H2GO and then we will approach the courts and asked them for a modified preliminary injunction and after that, we’ll hopefully be able to move forward with the plant and get a resolution of this lawsuit figured out,” said H2GO public information officer Tyler Wittkofsky.

Last week, the Town of Leland declined a proposed settlement agreement.

Leland Mayor Bozeman wrote the town supports the immediate construction of an RO plant if it is the product of regional cooperation based on terms proposed by the town in Oct. 2019.

The Town of Leland responded to Tuesday’s announcement with the following statement:

“The Town of Leland continues to believe that a regional compromise plan is the right approach to providing aquifer-based reverse osmosis water to area residents. Our hope was to take a collaborative and cooperative approach that would benefit all parties involved, and we remain hopeful that such an approach could still be pursued in the future.”

H2GO leaders say they feel dropping the appeals despite a settlement agreement is the best way to move forward.

“We’ll follow the judge’s initial order. All the assets will be returned to H2GO and then we will approach the courts and asked them for a preliminary injunction and after that, we’ll hopefully be able to move forward with the plant and get a resolution of this lawsuit figured out,” Wittkofsky said.

Like the Town of Leland, H2GO says they are still open to working together in the future, but that their first priority is providing their customers with clean drinking water.

“We would all love cooperation. We would be more than willing to talk with Leland in the future and even now. But as far as agreements and things like that we want to get this lawsuit settled and move on. Our board is very willing and very open to continue discussions with Leland and the Town of Belville we’re not shutting out any possibilities,” Wittkofsky said.

In 2017, the outgoing H2GO board voted to transfer $56 million of H2GO assets to Belville in a last-ditch effort to save a controversial reverse osmosis plant.

For the last two years, H2GO has been in a legal battle with Belville to regain control of the assets. During that time the majority of the board opposed the reverse osmosis plant.

In 2019, voters elected two new members to the board shifting the power of the board once again.

Currently, the majority of the board is in favor of the H2GO plant.

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