(a) Short title. -- This article may be known and cited as the Water Resources Protection and Management Act.
(b) Legislative findings. --
(1) The West Virginia Legislature finds that it is the public policy of the State of West Virginia to protect and conserve the water resources for the state and to provide for the public welfare. The state's water resources are vital natural resources of the state that are essential to maintain, preserve and promote quality of life and economic vitality of the state.
(2) The West Virginia Legislature further finds that it is the public policy of the state that the water resources of the state be available for the benefit of the citizens of West Virginia, consistent with and preserving all other existing rights and remedies recognized in common law or by statute, while also preserving the resources within its sovereign powers for the common good.
(3) The West Virginia Legislature further finds that the water use survey conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection is a valuable tool for water resources assessment, protection and management.
(4) The West Virginia Legislature further finds that the water resources of this state have not been fully measured or assessed and that a program to accurately measure and assess the state's water resources is necessary to protect, conserve and better utilize the water resources of this state.
(5) The West Virginia Legislature further finds that the survey information collected and analyzed by the Department of Environmental Protection has identified the need for a statewide water resources management plan.
(6) The West Virginia Legislature further finds that the development of a state water resources management plan is in the best interest of the state and its citizens and will promote the protection of this valuable natural resource; promote its use for the public good; and enhance its use and development for tourism, industry and other economic development for the benefit of the state and its citizens.
(7) The West Virginia Legislature further finds that incomplete data collection from an inadequate groundwater monitoring system continues to hamper efforts to study, develop and protect the state's water resources and will be a major obstacle in the development of a water resources management plan.