Section 9-10B-21

Critical use studies to determine if areas should be designated as capacity stress areas.

The division chief shall notify the commission of the designation of areas of the state for which the Office of Water Resources, in coordination with, or with the assistance of, other agencies of the state or federal government, shall conduct a critical use study to determine if such areas should be designated as capacity stress areas. Each critical use study shall include an analysis of reasonable alternatives to address the quantitative water resources problems identified by the Office of Water Resources during the study. At a minimum, the critical use study shall include an assessment of a no-action alternative, a conservation alternative, a water resources development alternative, and a restrictive use alternative. Within each area of the state for which a critical use study is proposed, the Office of Water Resources shall consult with all persons holding a certificate of use within such area as well as all appropriate federal, state, or local government agencies within such area prior to the completion of the critical use study. The division chief may establish a technical or other advisory committee to assist in the preparation of a critical use study. In addition, the Office of Water Resources shall prepare a draft of each critical use study, including the tentative recommendations of the Office of Water Resources to the commission, and shall solicit comments from interested persons within the study area and shall conduct a public hearing on the critical use study within the study area prior to the completion of the critical use study. The Office of Water Resources shall consider all comments received during the public review process in the development of the final report of the critical use study. Upon the completion of a critical use study, the Office of Water Resources shall submit a final report of the critical use study to the commission and shall certify to the commission that the critical use study has been completed in accordance with this section and shall recommend to the commission those actions, if any, determined during the study process to be necessary to protect the quantitative water resources of such area. The commission shall review the critical use study submitted by the Office of Water Resources and determine if the implementation of water use restrictions in such area is necessary due to a finding by the commission that the aggregate existing or reasonably foreseeable uses of the waters of the state in such area exceed or will exceed the availability of such waters and is required to protect the availability of the waters of the state, and may initiate rule-making proceedings to have such area of the state designated as a capacity stress area; provided, however, that the commission shall not adopt or promulgate any rule or regulation with respect to any capacity stress area without the concurrence of 13 of the members of the commission. A quorum of the commission shall be a majority of the members of the commission. In the event the commission adopts rules designating a capacity stress area, the commission shall further initiate rule-making authorizing only the implementation of those actions recommended by the Office of Water Resources or such other action as the commission determines to be reasonably necessary to protect the interests of the people of the state with respect to the waters of the state, including, without limitation, the coordination, encouragement, and facilitation of local participation in the design and implementation of such actions; the development, funding, or other participation in water resource projects within such areas; the adoption of mandatory conservation measures limiting the use of water in such areas; and procedures to review all certificates of use within such areas. No actions or measures proposed by the commission shall be implemented except in accordance with the rule-making procedures of the commission and applicable law.

(Acts 1993, No. 93-44, p. 78, §22.)