Powers & Authorities of Conservation Districts

What does the state law empower SWCDs to do?

code of va 2It is important to understand the powers and authorities of conservation districts as outlined in the Code of Virginia.

Per Virginia Code state law states Soil & Water Conservation Districts “shall”:

  • The Department shall be assisted in performing its nonpoint source pollution management responsibilities by Virginia’s soil and water conservation districts (§10.1-104.1.)
  • Districts shall locally deliver the Commonwealth’s Agricultural Best Management Practices Cost-Share Assistance Program (§10.1-546.1.)
  • Complaint/investigation; agricultural stewardship plan – The Commissioner of VDACS shall request that the directors of the district in which the land lies determine the validity of the information within twenty-one days (§10.1-559.3.)

The Code of Virginia also provides the following guidance related to SWCD Plan Approval Mandates:

  • Agricultural best management practices tax credit (§58.1-339.3.)
  • Tax credit for purchases of advanced technology pesticide and fertilizer application equipment (§58.1-436.)
  • Agricultural best management practices tax credit (§58.1-439.5.)
  • Cooperative state-local program (pertains to the “Chesapeake Bay Preservation Act”) (§10.1-2100.)

Other binding commitments a district is responsible for:

  • Contracts, commitments entered in to by a SWCD with other agencies and organizations
  • SWCD performance of tasks established through local ordinance

The Code of Virginia provides the following authorizations and empowerment’s that districts may engage in:

  • Employment of officers, agents and employees (§10.1-532.)
  • Surveys and dissemination of information (§10.1-539.)
  • Demonstration projects (§10.1-540.)
  • Preventive and control measures (§10.1-541.)
  • Financial aid to agencies and occupiers (§10.1-542.)
  • Acquisition, improvement and disposition of property (§10.1-543.)
  • Making material and equipment available (§10.1-544.)
  • Construction, improvement, operation and maintenance of structures (§10.1-545.)
  • Development of programs and plans (§10.1-546.)
  • Acquisition and administration of projects; acting as agent for United States, etc.; acceptance of gifts (§10.1-547.)
  • Virginia Envirothon (§10.1-549.1.)
  • Renting machinery and equipment (§10.1-552.)

Additional information on distinctions between “shall vs. authorized” can be downloaded here – SWCD in Code Shall vs Authorized.