The Golden Leaf Foundation awarded the UNC School of Government a grant in 2009 to promote inter-local partnerships in Surry County and, by extension, throughout North Carolina. Inter-local partnerships are an excellent tool to make public water service provision more efficient, more reliable and more sustainable. The formation of new partnerships is often hindered by financial concerns, incompatible governance structures, political hurdles and a lack of trust of the motives of other units of government.
A team from the School of Government, including Rick Morse and Lydian Altman as well as Jeff Hughes, Andrew Westbrook and Glenn Barnes from the Environmental Finance Center worked with the local government units of Dobson, Elkin, Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Surry County to examine the challenges and opportunities for partnering within the County.
The EFC was also involved in a similar effort to evaluate and enhance capabilities of local governments to enter inter-local water partnerships in across North Carolina. This project was funded by the Public Water Supply Section of the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources.