As to the remaining issue of ownership, Judge Boyle directed the parties to submit their motions for summary judgment on title issue within 30 days. We look forward to proving ownership in the next phase of the case.
Here is an Associated Press article that summarizes the trial.
April 23, 2015
US judge: Riverbed property rights next in Alcoa dams fight
By Emery Dalesio
A federal judge ruled this week that boats could not navigate North Carolina's second-largest river system at the time of American independence, a decision that helps Alcoa Inc. as it tries to prove it owns the riverbed on which some valuable hydroelectric dams were built.
Judge Terrence W. Boyle said late Wednesday that the 40-mile section of the Yadkin River where Alcoa Inc. operates four hydropower dams was not navigable at the time the United States was born. States took control of their navigable rivers when they joined the union, so Boyle's ruling is a setback to North Carolina proving it still owns the riverbed.
Boyle opened a nonjury trial on Tuesday to hear a 2013 state lawsuit challenging whether Alcoa had property rights to build the dams. The dispute is about who will control the Yadkin's flow and billions of dollars of clean power for the coming decades.
Boyle's ruling means the trial now is likely to take up whether Alcoa can show property records proving it owns the riverbed the dams were built on.
Lawyers for both sides dug deep into the state archives and the Library of Congress to review accounts describing the river's navigability dating to before and soon after North Carolina became a state upon ratifying the Constitution in 1789.
The evidence included letters from an American Revolutionary general, expressions of sour grapes from Moravian settlers in the 1750s disappointed the land they bought near present-day Winston-Salem offered no navigable routes, and an 18th century landowner describing how he was able to use the Yadkin to ship his crops.