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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Water Quality - About Sections

Water Quality

About DWR Sections

The Division of Water Resources is divided into administrative offices and five sections that work together to efficiently and effectively protect the state's surface water and groundwater resources through quality monitoring programs, efficient permitting, responsible management, fair and effective enforcement and excellence in public service.  The Sections are:

Public Water SupplyWater PlanningWater Quality PermittingWater Quality Regional OperationsWater Sciences

Organizational Chart

Public Water Supply

The Public Water Supply Section regulates public water systems within the state under the statutory authority of North Carolina General Statute 130A Article 10. Public water systems are those which provide piped drinking water to at least 15 connections or 25 or more people for 60 or more days per year.

There are more than 6,000 regulated public water systems in the state.  About three-fourths of the state's population lives in areas served by community water systems, while many others and visitors to the state are served by other types of public water systems, such as workplaces, schools, parks or restaurants.  The section has branches and programs for:

  • Implementation of the mandates of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act;
  • Review and approval of plans and specifications for new and expanding or improving water systems;
  • Inspections, investigations, and technical assistance for water systems;
  • Emergency responses and complaint investigations;
  • Source water assessment, protection, and wellhead protection;
  • Capacity development;
  • Financial assistance through loans and grants; and
  • Administration of an operating fee permit program.

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Water Planning

The Water Planning Section develops standards, rules and management strategies to protect water quality, carries out water supply planning, provides guidance to local water systems and monitors drought conditions.  The section supports the division's mission through a number of programs including:

  • Developing Basin Water Quality Plans for each of the state's 17 river basins;
  • Preparing and administering rule-making for stream classifications, nutrient sensitive waters and several other division initiatives;
  • Evaluating and implement surface water and ground water standards in line with the latest scientific information and federal Environmental Protection Agency requirements
  • Administering state and federal grants for non-point sources of pollution and water quality planning.
  • Compiling and evaluating data to be used in reports on surface waters and ground waters of the state and identifying those waters that are impaired or have quantity issues.
  • Developing TMDL - Total Maximum Daily Load - plans for waters where sources of pollutants that cause water quality impacts that exceed state and federal standards have been identified.

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Water Quality Permitting

The Water Quality Permitting Section, with staff in Raleigh and DWR's seven regional offices, is responsible for:

  • Implementing state and federal permitting and compliance programs for point source wastewater treatment.
  • Administration of the federal pretreatment program for industrial wastewater going to municipal treatment facilities
  • Permitting for the operation and maintenance of sewage collection systems.  Permitting and compliance for wetlands and stream impacts including waterside buffer protection,
  • Development of programs for stream and wetlands protection and enhancement.
  • Developing DWR Emergency Response for sewage system overflows, oil spills, hurricanes, industrial explosions, and other instances where water quality may be acutely imperiled.
  • Implements permitting and compliance for wastewater that is applied to land, whether it is from municipal, industrial or animal feeding operation treatment systems.

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Water Quality Regional Operations

The Water Quality Regional Operations section, with offices in Raleigh and seven regional offices, focuses on the protection and enhancement of the state's surface water and groundwater.  The regional office personnel are often the public's first contact with the agency for environmental  permit acquisition and compliance, and for environmental emergencies.  In addition, this program is responsible for groundwater well permitting and compliance.  The section:

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Water Sciences

The Water Sciences Section supports the division through chemical laboratories in Raleigh and Asheville, NC and biological laboratories in Raleigh.  The laboratories provides DWR with the biological, chemical and technical support required to regulate and manage water quality throughout the state.  The section:

  • Monitors chemical, physical and bacteriological parameters in the state's streams, rivers and lakes, and interprets the data for use by the other division programs.
  • Analyzes routine samples from a variety of sources including monitoring wells, wastewater discharges, streams, lakes, rivers, compliance monitoring activities.
  • Helps the division to respond to emergency episodes through aiding in sampling plan design and conducting sample analysis.
  • Certifies commercial, industrial, municipal and field laboratories that submit data for state permitted clients.
  • Evaluates waters of the state based on the aquatic insect and fish communities they support, and the examination of fish tissue.
  • Studies the effect of complex wastewater on the aquatic communities
  • Administers discharge coalition monitoring for entities permitted through the federal NPDES program

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