AN ACT TO REQUIRE THE ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW COMMISSION TO CONDUCT A STUDY OF WATER RESOURCES AVAILABILITY IN THE CAPE FEAR RIVER BASIN AND TO PERMIT THE RULES REVIEW COMMISSION TO RETAIN PRIVATE COUNSEL UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES.
Requires the Environmental Review Commission (ERC), with assistance from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources' (DENR) assistance, to study the aggregate uses of groundwater and surface water in or affecting the Cape Fear River Basin by all users, including, but not limited to, public water systems, industrial facilities, and agricultural operations. Requires the study to include: (1) a summary of the current and 50-year projected water use demands and the available water supplies for those portions of 25 specified counties within the Cape Fear River Basin; (2) an evaluation of the adequacy of currently available supplies to meet the expected long-range needs for all water demands; (3) the identification of potential conflicts among the various users and recommendations for developing and enhancing coordination among users to avoid or minimize those conflicts; and (4) an enhanced review of the portions of the Cape Fear River Basin within Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties addressing the increased demands on groundwater and limited surface water options in that area. Requires the study findings to be included within DENR's Cape Fear River Basin Plan and requires all of the information and any analytical tools used in conducting the study to be made available electronically for public review and use from the Division of Water Resources website. Allows ERC to submit an interim report to the 2016 Regular Session of the 2015 General Assembly and requires a final report of its findings and recommendations to the 2017 General Assembly.
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