First developed by the World Health Organization, and now used in several countries, water safety plans (WSPs) are a multi-step, preventive process for managing drinking water hazards. While the beneficial impacts of WSPs have been documented in diverse countries, how to successfully implement WSPs in the United States remains a challenge. We examine the willingness and ability of water utility leaders to implement WSPs in the US state of North Carolina. Our findings show that water utilities have more of a reactive than preventive organizational culture, that implementation requires prioritization of time and resources, perceived comparative advantage to other hazard management plans, leadership in implementation, and identification of how WSPs can be embedded in existing work practices. Future research could focus on whether WSP implementation provides benefits such as decreases in operational costs, and improved organization of records and communication.