The Legislative Research Commission was directed by Senate Resolution 875 of the 1969 General Assembly to study and report to the 1971 General Assembly on the need for legislation "concerning local and regional water supplies (including sources of water, and organization and administration of water systems)." Pursuant to said Resolution a report was prepared and adopted by the Legislative Research Commission in 1970 concerning local and regional water supplies. In this report the Legislative Research Commission made the following findings concerning the need for planning and developing regional water supply systems in order to provide adequate supplies of high quality water to the citizens of North Carolina, of which the General Assembly hereby takes cognizance:
(1) The existing pattern of public water supply development in North Carolina is dominated by many small systems serving few customers. Of the 1,782 public water systems of record on July 1, 1970, according to Department of Health and Human Services statistics, over eighty percent (80%) were serving less than 1,000 people each. These small systems are often underfinanced, inadequately designed and maintained, difficult to coordinate with nearby regional systems, and generally inferior to systems serving larger communities as regards adequacy of source, facilities and quality. The situation which has developed reflects a need for better planning at both State and local levels.
(2) The State's population balance is steadily changing. Sparsely populated counties are losing residents to the more densely populated counties, while the State's total population is increasing. As this trend continues, small towns and communities will find it increasingly difficult to build and maintain public water supply systems. Also, as urban centers expand, and embrace relatively large geographical areas, economic factors will dictate that regional water systems be developed to serve these centers and to meet the demands of commercial and industrial development. It is estimated that countywide or regional water systems are needed now by 50 counties.
(3) If the future public water supply needs of the State are to be met, a change in the existing pattern of public water supply development and management must be undertaken. Regional planning and development is an immediate need. The creation of countywide or regional water supplies, with adequate interconnections, is necessary in order to provide an adequate supply of high quality water to the State's citizens, to make supplies less vulnerable to recurring drought conditions, and to have systems large enough to justify the costs of adequate facilities and of proper operation and maintenance.
(4) The State should provide a framework for comprehensive planning of regional water supply systems, and for the orderly coordination of local actions, so as to make the most efficient use of available water resources and economies of scale for construction, operation and maintenance. The State should also provide financial assistance to local governments and regional authorities in order to assist with the cost of developing comprehensive regional plans, and countywide plans compatible with a regional system. (1971, c. 892, s. 1; 1973, c. 476, s. 128; 1997-443, s. 11A.118(a).)