1997 Regular Session
To: Agriculture; Appropriations
By: Representatives Holland, Stringer
House Bill 937
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI WATERSHED REPAIR AND REHABILITATION COST-SHARE PROGRAM TO BE ADMINISTERED BY THE MISSISSIPPI SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION COMMISSION FOR THE PURPOSE OF ASSISTING WATERSHED DISTRICTS IN THE REPAIR, REHABILITATION OR REMOVAL OF CERTAIN WATER IMPOUNDMENT STRUCTURES; TO PROVIDE THAT THE LEGISLATURE MAY APPROPRIATE SUCH SUMS AS IT MAY DEEM NECESSARY TO A SPECIAL FUND FOR THE COMMISSION TO CARRY OUT THE PURPOSES OF THIS ACT; TO REQUIRE THE COMMISSION TO ESTABLISH RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR PARTICIPATION AND ASSISTANCE UNDER THE COST-SHARE PROGRAM; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The Legislature has previously stated its desire to improve the quality of water, prevent soil erosion and alleviate flood damage in Mississippi, and great strides have been made through the use of water impoundment structures constructed through federal watershed construction funding programs. Flood control structures have provided secondary benefits including improvement of water quality and increased recreational opportunities. Flaws have become apparent in the system of maintenance established to protect these flood control structures to the point that many of the structures are in dire need of repair and pose a serious threat to property as well as loss of secondary benefits.
SECTION 2. (1) There is created the Mississippi Watershed Repair and Rehabilitation Cost-Share Program to be administered by the Mississippi Soil and Water Conservation Commission through the Soil and Water Cost-Share Program for the purpose of assisting local watershed districts in the repair, rehabilitation or removal of water impoundment structures constructed with financing from the United States of America under Public Law 534 and Public Law 566. For the purposes of this section, the term "watershed district" shall include any "watershed district, soil and water conservation district, drainage district, flood control district, or water management district authorized by the Mississippi Legislature which has the management responsibility for any Public Law 534 or Public Law 566 water impoundment structure.
(2) The Legislature may appropriate such sums as it may deem necessary to a special fund for the commission to be expended by them in accordance with this section. The commission is authorized to receive and expend any funds appropriated by the federal government for the purposes of this section. Unexpended amounts remaining at the end of the fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund.
(3) The commission shall:
(a) Establish rules and regulations for participation and assistance under this cost-share program consistent with the requirements of this section.
(b) Establish a priority list of the watershed structures for which cost-share assistance has been applied.
(c) Determine which structures shall be eligible for cost-share assistance.
(d) Establish maximum sums and cost-share rates which any eligible entity may receive for implementation of the cost-share assistance.
(e) Award cost-share assistance in accordance with the rules and regulations. The awarding of cost-share assistance may be in the form of direct payment to the watershed district or may be in the form of the commission's directly managing the repair, renovation or removal as agreed between the commission and the watershed district.
(4) Any watershed district must meet the following minimum criteria to be eligible for consideration for approval of cost-share assistance under this program:
(a) The water impoundment structure has been certified not to meet the technical standards established by the United States Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, as a result of needed maintenance, structural defect, equipment failure or public access.
(b) A maintenance agreement has been reached with either the watershed district or the landowner upon which the structure is situated. Any impoundment structure where the watershed district is the maintainer shall have a new maintenance agreement which includes the concurrence and approval of the county board of supervisors or city governmental authority as guarantor of the performance of the watershed district.
(c) The local watershed district, county board of supervisors or landowner upon whose land the structure is located must agree to provide financial or in-kind match at the rate established by the commission.
(5) The impoundment structure may be situated on land owned by a private landowner or any state or federal governmental entity.
(6) Any county board of supervisors or municipal governmental authority, within whose boundaries a qualifying impoundment structure lies, wishing to participate in this program shall have the authority to expend public monies, personnel, and/or equipment on private property to repair, renovate or remove any impoundment structure authorized by the commission for participation in this program.
(7) This section is supplemental to any powers and authorities granted watershed districts, county boards of supervisors, or municipal governmental authorities and does not supersede existing law.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.