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N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources

NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Water Quality - Public Events

Water Quality

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Division of Water Resources Public Events

Healthy watersheds depend on public involvement and the choices we make in our homes, in our communities and in the workplace.

Many actions proposed by DWR or the Environmental Management Commission include an opportunity for public comment.  The division also holds informational meetings, workshops and public hearings that are designed to increase public understanding and involvement in issues affecting water quality. These opportunities can be found on our Public Events Calendar.
Opportunities for public involvement in DWR issues include:

  • Proposed changes to stream classifications
  • New, renewed or substantially modified permits for wastewater treatment plants that discharge to state waters
  • Rule making by the Environmental Management Commission that affects water quality
  • Rule making that affects interbasin transfers and other water quantity issues
  • Proposed wastewater treatment and collection system Special Orders by Consent
  • 401 Water Quality Certifications for proposed impacts to streams and wetlands
  • Educational workshops

The DWR Public Events Calendar

How do I get involved?
The DWR Public Events Calendar lists notices, meetings, hearings, workshops and other opportunities for public participation.
Notices include a summary of the proposed action, a link to important documents, DWR contact information and a time limited comment period.  Written comments may be submitted before the end of the comment period to be included in the recommendation to the DWR director or to the Environmental Management Commission for a final decision.
Meetings are opportunities to learn more about a division action or proposal and discuss it with staff and others who are interested.
Hearings are held to gather oral and written comments from the public on a proposed action. Notices of public hearings are published at least 30 days before the hearing occurs. Participants who wish to present comments orally are asked to register - generally, speakers are called in the order of registration. The time allotted for speaking may be limited - the usual time limit for comments is three minutes - in order to give all who wish to the chance to participate. A written copy of oral comments is requested.

How do I use the DWR Public Calendar?
Public events are sortable by the date; type of event - such as a notice, hearing or meeting; the county or river basin affected (including multiple or all), and the program within DWQ that the proposed action affects. After locating an event or notice you would like to know more about, click on the corresponding date. A page will display that has contact information, a summary of the proposed action with important timelines and may include important supporting documents, maps, photos and Web links.

Want to know the latest postings on the DWR Public Calendar?

You can subscribe to the DWQ Public Calendar to receive an e-mail notice when the calendar is updated. To find out more: Click Here.

What is the difference between comments gathered through a notice and those gathered at a hearing?

Both a public notice and a public hearing are formal opportunities for the public to comment on a proposed action by a government agency or commission. The comments that are received during the comment period are included in the formal record for the proposed action and are considered during the decision making process.

What is the difference between public meetings and public hearings?

Public meetings are informal opportunities to learn more about an issue and discuss it with agency staff and other interested members of the public.  It includes opportunities for questions and interaction between participants. A public hearing is a formal opportunity to gather information from the public on a proposed action - permit renewal, stream reclassification, etc.  A record is kept of the proceedings and all comments, whether presented orally or in written form, become part of the hearing record. The public hearing is not an opportunity for general discussion. All comments are to be directed to the hearing officers who will compile them and present them, along with the officer's recommendations, to the division director or the Environmental Management Commission for a final decision on the proposed action.

Which have greater influence on the final decision, written comments or oral comments?

Written and oral comments are given equal weight in the evaluation of an agency or commission decision.

I see that some actions have public hearings and some do not.  Why is that?

Not all agency actions require a public hearing as part of the process. In some cases, the state administrative code stipulates certain conditions under which a public hearing is required. In addition to that, the division director may decide to hold a public hearing in the public interest. A public hearing request may be made during the comment period by any member of the public.

 

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