The water supply development assistance process as outlined in Session Law 2011-374 (aka, HB 609) provides a formal mechanism by which water systems statewide of any size can request assistance from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to "walk" them through the often complicated and ever-changing environmental review and permitting processes to acquire access to needed additional water supplies. This process can include agreements, as determined by the parties involved, throughout the process that both the water system and the DEQ are held to, barring unforeseen legislative changes.
Session Law 2011-374
"(b) Functions to Be Performed. – The Department shall: …
(16) Cooperate with units of local government in the identification of water supply needs and appropriate water supply sources and water storage projects to meet those needs. By agreement with a unit of local government, the Department may do any of the following:
a. Assist in the assessment of alternatives for meeting water supply needs; the conduct of engineering studies, hydraulic computations, and hydrographic surveys; and the development of a plan of study for purposes of obtaining necessary permits.
b. For budget and planning purposes, develop estimates of the costs of the proposed new water supply project.
c. Apply for State and federal permits for the development of regional water supplies.
(17) Be the principal State agency to cooperate with other State agencies, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and all other federal agencies or instrumentalities in the planning and development of water supply sources and water storage projects for the State."
Harold Brady, Water Supply Development Coordinator