The Beech Mountain Town Council voted unanimously February 25 on a water intake on the Watauga River, near Guy Ford Road.

The Watauga Democrat reports the process of developing plans and submitting permit applications would lead to final design and permitting taking place in March 2021 after a process that would include among other things, Watauga County approving a reclassification of the Watauga River, applications for funding, looking into right-of-ways and easements for a raw water main route and intermediate pump station.

Beech Mountain Interim Town Manager Bob Pudney said the proposed intake would be used when drought conditions make it impossible to draw water from Buckeye Lake, the town's current water source.

The town estimates the withdrawal of 500,000 gallons a day during a drought, which is .3 percent of the river’s average flow, according to West Consultants Engineer Benjie Thomas.

There is opposition to the idea, from nearby residents as well as the group Mountain True, which says Beech Mountain should fix its leaking water pipes to answer its water supply problem.

According to Pudney, 57 percent of the total water withdrawn from Buckeye Lake is lost through leaks in the town’s 66 miles of water pipes, most of which were constructed in the ‘70s. He said even if all the leaks were fixed, there is still no secondary water source for the town.