Watercourse protection in North Carolina falls primarily to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), although local governments may apply for a limited role. DENR is responsible for promulgating rules for riparian buffer protection to safeguard watercourses. Under § 143-214.23, a local government may request that DENR delegate responsibility for implementing any riparian buffer protection programs the Department may implement.
Additionally, DENR administers the Natural and Scenic Rivers Act of 1971, located in Article 3 of Chapter 113A. Local governments do not appear to have any authority in connection with this act.