Three towns, Saluda (B), Tryon (A) and Columbus (C), are unhappy with water pressure in their multi-community system in the hills of North Carolina.

Three small towns in the mountain country of North Carolina, not far from Asheville, say they are suffering from poor water pressure and they are blaming the engineering firm that designed the water delivery lines connecting the towns.

The towns of Columbus and Tryon and the city of Saluda are suing Asheville, N.C.-based engineer Joel E. Wood and Associates, LLC.

A judge recently transferred the lawsuit from state superior court in Polk, N.C. to federal court in the Western District of North Carolina in Asheville.

Seeking $700,000 in damages, the towns first filed their lawsuit in October. The $700,000 is needed to fix the water system, the towns claim.

In April 2008, the town of Tryon hired Wood to provide engineering services for design and construction of the new water line between Tryon and Saluda, and a booster pump between Columbus and Tryon, to provide backup water services for each town.

Town officials in 2012 and 2013 complained to Wood of low water pressure and other unfinished work on the project, the lawsuit states. The complaints included an unusable radio-controlled system for the pumps on the line between Tryon and Saluda, and the nonfunctioning chlorinator on Saluda’s new water tank, which was part of the interconnect system.

In the summer of 2013, according to the lawsuit, Wood completed work on the disputed project, finishing the radio-controlled system and the chlorinator on Saluda’s new water tank.

The suit claims Wood was negligent for failing to perform studies and modeling to determine a reasonable design that would provide enough pressure.

The project was meant to enable the towns to exchange up to 400,000 gallons of water per day. Saluda’s engineer, Jonathan Hollifield, told city officials that the interconnect’s 85,000-gallon water tank wasn’t large enough to send the maximum amount of water agreed to be exchanged, according to the Tryon Daily Bulletin.

The line between Tryon and Saluda, whose population is only 3,565, was made possible through a $1.73 million grant that the towns shared from the North Carolina Rural Center and a $300,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission. Each town also shared another $1.43 million grant that went to the project, courtesy of the North Carolina Drinking Water Fund, the Tryon Daily Bulletin reported.