US judge: Alcoa must show rights to riverbed property under Yadkin River dams challenged by NC

A federal judge says Alcoa Inc. must show it has ownership rights to the riverbed under four North Carolina dams it has operated for as much as a century.

U.S. District Judge Terrance Boyle ruled late Thursday that a trial starting in two months is needed to sort out the claims over riverbed ownership crucial to operating the Yadkin River dams.

The judge says the lawsuit brought by North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's administration involves the availability of affordable electricity and clean drinking water for about 700,000 residents of the state's Piedmont.

The dams once powered an Alcoa aluminum smelter that employed thousands before closing in 2007. The company has sold the electricity to commercial customers since then. Alcoa sold about $34 million in power over the year through September.