BEDFORD, Va. -

Bedford County can now pull more drinking water out of Smith Mountain Lake.

The Bedford Regional Water Authority has been granted an expanded withdrawal permit from the Department of Environmental Quality.

The utility company can now drain up to 12-million gallons per-day from Smith Mountain Lake.  That's four times more than what is currently pulled from the lake.

This is the first step in a process to build a water line from Moneta to Forest, and allow Bedford County to buy less water from the city of Lynchburg.

"It's something that we definitely needed to do, whether now for our current customers or in the future," said Megan Rapp, spokesperson for the water authority.  "It's a good step for the authority to provide that sustainable water."

The water authority hopes to have a new treatment plant and water line to Forest in operation by 2016.