The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is consolidating several of its programs that protect water resources, Secretary John Skvarla said Thursday.
The state divisions of Water Quality and Water Resources are merging into one program called the N.C. Division of Water Resources, effective Thursday. Merging the divisions will bring together about 484 employees, with more than two-thirds of them from the water quality program, DENR said in a news release. The programs will remain headquartered in the Archdale Building, part of the state government complex in Raleigh.
"Making DENR a more efficient organization supports Gov. McCrory's mission to make state government more responsive to our citizens," Skvarla said in a statement. "Moreover, it just makes sense to integrate our regulation of water quality and quantity. It doesn't matter how much water you have if it's not clean, and likewise a shortage of water, even if it is clean, isn't acceptable.
"This merger will enable DENR to address water quality and water quantity issues holistically rather than separately, similar to placing doctors of different specialties in the same office together."
Skvarla said citizens should not see any changes. For example, water quality inspections will be conducted as usual and any permits previously issued to individuals, businesses and others will not be affected by the changes.
Programs and personnel in the divisions will remain unchanged in the short term, DENR said in a news release. But existing will be evaluated. The division also plans to form an outside involvement committee of citizen and regulated stakeholders to get additional input for the process of division consolidation and regulatory review.