Water Resources Regulations & Guidance
The N.C. Division of Water Resources operates under a variety of legislative mandates that include a wide range of activities. The duties of the Division include protecting streams from growth, evaluating water project impacts on the waters of the State, keeping records of water users in the State, providing technical assistance to water systems, and planning for development of water supplies. The N.C. statutory mandates have been organized according to function.
Note: The statutes linked here are published on the North Carolina General Assembly's website. Although every effort was made to ensure accuracy, these online statutes are not the official versions of the North Carolina General Statues.
- Rules, Regulations & General Statutes Specific to Public Water Systems
- Rules Governing Water Treatment Facility Operators
Water Resource Database Management G.S. 143-355(b)(12), (k)
Maintain climatological and water resources records as a source of public information.
Investigations of Water Supplies G.S. 143-355(j)
- Investigate water supplies and water powers, prepare and maintain an inventory of water resources and promote their development.
Water Powers G.S. 113-16
- Cooperate with the federal government regarding water powers.
Interstate Waters G.S. 113-17
- Make agreements with the federal government regarding interstate waters.
Examination of Local Water Supplies G.S. 113-20
- Cooperate with counties and cities in examining their natural resources and in locating water supplies.
Federal Water Resources Development Projects G.S. 143-215.38, .39, .40, .41, .42, and .43
- Encourage development of river, harbor and flood control projects and other civil works projects that will benefit counties, municipalities or regions of the State. Assure local cooperation. Allow localities and the State to cooperate with federal water resources agencies. Permit acquisition of lands for water projects.
Grants for Water Resources Development Projects G.S. 143-215.70, .71, .72, and .73
- Provide grant money to local governments for a variety of water resource projects, including navigation, recreation, water management, stream restoration, protection of private beaches with public access and aquatic weed control.
Additional information concerning development grants is available in the North Carolina Administrative Code: 15A NCAC 02G .0102, .0103, .0104, .0105, .0106, and .0107.
Water Supply Storage G.S. 143-354(a)(11)
- Assign to local governments State water supply storage in federal projects.
Plan for Long Range River Preservation and Development G.S. 143-355(b)(2)
- Initiate, plan and execute a long-range program for the preservation, development and improvement of rivers, harbors and inland ports and promote the public interest.
Recommend River Preservation Legislation G.S. 143-355(b)(3)
- Prepare and recommend legislation for preserving and improving rivers, harbors, dredging of small inlets and providing for safe harbor facilities and public tidewaters.
Planning and Developing Water Resource Projects G.S. 143-355(b)(7), (9); 143-358
- Cooperate with federal and interstate agencies in planning and developing water resource projects for navigation, flood control, hurricane protection, shore erosion prevention and other purposes.
Stream Watch Program G.S. 143-215.74F, .74G, .74H, and .74I
- Encourage volunteer groups to adopt streams and water bodies and to work toward their good management and protection. Increase public education regarding water resource issues. Work toward cooperation among various governmental and volunteer organizations to promote protection and improved management of the State's water resources. An expanded unofficial version of this statute is available at this location: pdf version of the statute
Planning and Education G.S. 143-354(a)(1)
- Carry out a program of planning and education concerning the most beneficial long-range conservation and use of water resources of the State. Investigate long-range needs of counties and municipalities and other local governments for water supply storage available in federal projects.
Information to EMC G.S. 143-354(a)(5)
- Provide to the EMC suggestions affecting the use and conservation of water.
Promoting Development of Water Resources G.S. 113-8
- Make investigations of water supplies and water powers, prepare and maintain a general inventory of water resources in the State, and take measures to promote their development.
Advises Other Agencies for Planning Purposes G.S. 113-14.1(b)(5)
- Advise and confer with other agencies in planning and implementing the overall program.
Hurricane Flood Protection and Beach Erosion Control Project Revolving Fund G.S. 143-215.62
- When funds are available, make advances from this fund to counties or municipalities for advance planning and engineering work that will promote preservation or construction of hurricane flood protection or beach erosion projects. Provide the county or municipality with an opinion on the project's impact on beach erosion control or protection from floodwater; on the prospects for federal financial aid; and on the impact on citizens of the financial outlays that would result from the project.
Water Resources Development Plan G.S. 143-215.73A
- Prepare a statewide plan for water resources development projects by July 1 of each calendar year for a period of six years into the future. Assign priorities to each project within categories and provide information on each project. Provide copies of the plan to the Director of the Budget who shall provide copies to the Advisory Budget Commission and the General Assembly along with the recommended budget.
Assuring Cooperation with Federal Projects G.S. 143-354(a)(10)
- Provide federal agencies assurances of nonfederal cooperation for water supply storage and other Congressionally authorized purposes in federal projects.
Local and State Water Supply Plans G.S. 143-355(l), (m)
- Provide technical assistance to local systems as they develop and adopt Local Water Supply Plans, which will include present and projected population and water use, present and planned future water supplies, and estimates of the need for technical assistance.
- Develop a State Water Supply Plan to assure the availability of adequate supplies of good quality water to protect public health and support economic growth. Include the data in the local water supply plans and identify potential areas of conflict and cooperation throughout the State.
Weekly Drought Water Use Reporting G.S. 143-355
- Each local government and large community water system must report their water use on a weekly basis if their county is designated as Extreme (D3) or Exceptional (D4).
Water Conservation Reporting G.S. 143-355
- Each local government and large community water system must report their implementation of water conservation measures within 72 hours of implementation. To assist the State in understanding the status of the State's water systems, it is important to report changes in conservation levels (both more restrictive and less restrictive).
- An act to improve Drought preparedness and response in North Carolina, as recommended by the Environmental Review Commission.
Water Use Act of 1967 G.S. 143-215.11 through .22 (scroll down to § 143-215.11)
- Designate a capacity use area where use of ground water and/or surface water require coordination and limited regulation for protection of the interests and rights of property owners and residents or of the public interest.
Registration of Water Withdrawals and Transfers G.S. 143-215.22G, 215.22H, and 215.22L
- Requires anyone who withdraws one million gallons of water a day or more and non-agricultural water users that withdraw one hundred thousand gallons of water a day to register that withdrawal or transfer with the State. Additional information concerning Interbasin Transfers (administrative code) is available at this location: pdf version of TA0500
Right of Withdrawal of Impounded Water G.S. 143-215.44, .45, .46, .47, .48, .49, and .50
- Gives a person who lawfully impounds water for purposes of withdrawal the right of withdrawal of the excess volume that is due to the impoundment.
Rules, Regulations & General Statutes Specific to Public Water Systems
- The U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) protects public health by encouraging states to regulate public water systems.
- The N.C. Drinking Water Act protects public health by regulating public water systems in North Carolina.
Rules Governing Public Water Systems
- State Rules
- Individual sections of the State Rules can be found on this page: 15A NCAC 18C
- Revised State Rules (Effective July 1, 2019)
- State Rules Appendices
- Associated Federal Rules: Part 141-National Primary Drinking Water Regulations
Environmental Assessment Requirements
- See this page for rules and guidance.
Rules Governing Water and Wastewater Facility Operators
Certification of Water Treatment Facility Operators (General Statute)
Water Treatment Facility Operator Rules
Rule Changes Effective February 1, 2012
Water Resources Surveys G.S. 113-21
- Cooperate with counties in making water resources surveys, as well as recommending plans for municipal improvements and enterprises.
Establish Minimum Stream Flows (Dams) G.S. 143-215.32
- Determine what level of stream flow below a dam is adequate to maintain stream classifications and water quality standards. Recommend conditions relating to release of flows from impoundments, location or design of the outlets and of water intakes, the amount and timing of withdrawal and the construction of submerged weirs.
Engineering and Hydraulic Studies G.S. 143-355(b)(4)
- Make engineering studies, hydraulic calculations, hydrographic surveys and reports relating to shore erosion projects, dams reservoirs, river channel improvements. Develop estimates of costs for such projects for budget and planning purposes.
Reports to Governor and General Assembly G.S. 143-355(b)(10)
- Make reports as requested by the Governor and General Assembly