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Asheville water battle goes before NC Supreme Court on Tuesday

(FILE) The City of Asheville will go before the North Carolina Supreme Court on May 17, 2016. This is the latest legal step in a long-time battle over control of the city's water system. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

ASHEVILLE, N.C. -- The longtime legal battle over control of Asheville's water system is set to go before the North Carolina Supreme Court.

It's part of a special session the high court is holding in Morganton. The city is suing to block a bill passed by state lawmakers for a transfer to a regional water authority.

Former GOP State Representative Tim Moffitt backed House Bill 488 in 2012. It was a proposed transfer of a water system owned, operated and maintained by the City of Asheville for more than a century.

Moffitt argued the regional move would better serve the system's 125,000 customers. The bill offered Asheville no compensation, no money and many constituents weren't buying it.

House Bill 488, the "Water Act of 2013," did pass, but the city went to superior court to stop it and in 2014, a judge agreed.

"He perceived this legislation as an attempt to make an end-run around the constitution, which limits the legislature's ability to essentially meddle in local governments," Mayor Esther Manheimer said at the time. "He called a spade a spade, and it was legislation that was intended to take the assets of our citizenry, of our city, our water system."

But then came the state's turn to fight back. They filed a countersuit, upheld by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals.

RELATED | NC Court of Appeals To Not Reconsider Asheville Water Ruling

This latest legal move by Asheville puts the case in the hands of the highest court in North Carolina, seven justices. They will hear arguments first thing on Tuesday, with a decision likely several months away.

News 13 will stream the hearing starting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

RELATED | NC Supreme Court to Hear Asheville Water Lawsuit

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