139-8. Powers of districts and supervisors.

(a) A soil and water conservation district organized under the provisions of this Article shall constitute a governmental subdivision of this State, and a public body corporate and politic, exercising public powers, and such district, and the supervisors thereof, shall have the following powers in addition to others granted in other sections of this Chapter:

(1) To conduct surveys and investigations relating to the character of soil erosion and floodwater and sediment damages, and to the conservation, utilization, and disposal of water, the development of water resources, and the preventive and control measures and works of improvement needed, to publish the results of such surveys and investigations, and to disseminate information concerning such preventive and control measures and works of improvement.

(2) To carry out preventive and control measures and works of improvement for flood prevention or the conservation, utilization, and disposal of water and development of water resources within the district, including, but not limited to, engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation, changes in use of land, and the measures listed in subsection (a), subdivision (3) of G.S. 139-2, on lands owned or controlled by this State or any of its agencies, with the cooperation of the agency administering and having jurisdiction thereof, and on any other lands within the district upon obtaining the consent of the occupiers of such lands or the necessary rights or interest in such lands.

(3) To cooperate, or enter into agreements with, and within the limits or appropriations duly made available to it by law, to furnish financial or other aid to, any agency, governmental or otherwise, or any occupiers of land within the district, in the carrying on of erosion control and prevention operations and works of improvement for flood prevention or the conservation, utilization, and disposal of water and development of water resources within the district, subject to such conditions as the supervisors may deem necessary to advance the purposes of this Chapter.

(4) To obtain options upon and to acquire by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, grant, devise, or otherwise, any property, real or personal, or rights or interests therein; to maintain, administer, and improve any properties acquired, to receive income from such properties and to expend such income in carrying out the purposes and provisions of this Chapter; and to sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of its property or interests therein in furtherance of the purposes and the provisions of this Chapter.

(5) To make available, on such terms as it shall prescribe, to land occupiers within the district, agricultural and engineering machinery and equipment, fertilizer, seeds and seedlings, and such other material or equipment as will assist such land occupiers to carry on operations upon their lands for the conservation of soil resources and for the prevention and control of soil erosion and for flood prevention or the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water and the development of water resources.

(6) To construct, improve, operate, and maintain such structures, works and projects as may be necessary or convenient for the performance of any of the operations authorized in this Chapter, including watershed improvement structures, works, and projects as well as any other structures, works, and projects which the district is authorized to undertake.

(7) To develop comprehensive plans for the conservation of soil resources and for the control and prevention of soil erosion and for flood prevention or the conservation, utilization and disposal of water and development of water resources, within the district, which plans shall specify in such detail as may be possible, the acts, procedures, performances, and avoidances which are necessary or desirable for the effectuation of such plans, including the specification of engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation, cropping programs, tillage practices, and changes in use of land; and to bring such plans and information to the attention of occupiers of lands within the district.

(8) To act as agent for the United States, or any of its agencies, in connection with the acquisition, construction, operation, or administration of any project for soil conservation, erosion control, erosion prevention, flood prevention, or for the conservation, utilization, and disposal of water and development of water resources, or combinations thereof, within its boundaries; to accept donations, gifts, and contributions in money, services, materials, or otherwise, from the United States or any of its agencies, or from this State or any of its agencies, and to use or expend such moneys, services, materials, or other contributions in carrying on its operations, except that all forest tree seedlings shall be obtained insofar as available from the Department of Environmental Quality in cooperation with the United States Department of Agriculture.

(9) To sue and be sued in the name of the district; to have a seal, which seal shall be judicially noticed; to have perpetual succession unless terminated as hereinafter provided; to make and execute contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of its powers; to make, and from time to time amend and repeal, rules and regulations not inconsistent with this Chapter, to carry into effect its purposes and powers.

(10) As a condition to the extending of any benefits under this Chapter to, or the performance of work upon, any lands not owned or controlled by this State or any of its agencies, the supervisors may require contributions in money, services, materials, or otherwise to any operations conferring such benefits, and may require land occupiers to enter into and perform such agreement or covenants as to the permanent use of such lands as will tend to prevent or control erosion and prevent floodwater and sediment damages therein.

(11) No provision with respect to the acquisition, operation, or disposition of property by other public bodies shall be applicable to a district organized hereunder unless the legislature shall specifically so state.

(12) Nothing contained in this Chapter shall authorize or allow the withdrawal of water from a watershed or stream except to the extent and degree now permissible under the existing common and statute law of this State; nor to change or modify such existing common or statute law with respect to the relative rights of riparian owners or others concerning the use or disposal of water in the streams of this State; nor to authorize a district, its officers or governing body or any other person, firm, corporation (public or private), body politic or governmental agency to utilize or dispose of water except in the manner and to the extent permitted by the existing common and statute law of this State.

(13) To assist the Commission in the implementation and supervision of the Agriculture Cost Share Program for Nonpoint Source Pollution Control created pursuant to G.S. 106-850 and to assist in the implementation and supervision of any other program intended to protect water quality or quantity administered by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services by providing technical assistance, allocating available grant monies, and providing any other assistance that may be required or authorized by any provision of federal or State law.

(b) A district supervisor may apply for and receive a grant under the Agriculture Cost Share Program for Nonpoint Source Pollution Control created pursuant to Article 72 of Chapter 106 of the General Statutes, the Community Conservation Assistance Program created pursuant to Article 73 of Chapter 106 of the General Statutes, or the Agricultural Water Resources Assistance Program created pursuant to Article 5 of this Chapter if:

1. The district supervisor does not vote on the application or attempt to influence the outcome of any action on the application; and

2. The application is approved by the Commission. (1937, c. 398, s. 8; 1939, c. 341; 1959, c. 781, s. 7; 1969, c. 711, s. 1; 1973, c. 1262, s. 38; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; 1989, c. 727, s. 218(93); 1995, c. 519, ss. 2, 3; 1997-443, s. 11A.119(a); 2006-78, s. 4; 2011-145, ss. 13.22A(n), (dd), 13.23(e); 2011-284, s. 91; 2015-241, s. 14.30(u).)