Each state in the US has a Water Resources Institute. Federal legislation directing water resource research was passed in 1964. Amendments were made in 1978 and then the legislation took its current form, The Water Research and Development Act of 1984. Among other things, the 1984 legislation authorized the creation of Water Resource Research Institutes for each state. The program, commonly referred to as WRRI, is currently administered by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
In North Carolina, the Water Resources Institute is headquartered at the University of North Carolina. Here's a link.
Institutes for each state are located here.