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The Legislative Service Commission staff updates the Revised Code on an ongoing basis, as it completes its act review of enacted legislation. Updates may be slower during some times of the year, depending on the volume of enacted legislation.

Chapter 940 | Soil And Water Conservation Commission

 
 
 
Section
Section 940.01 | Definitions.
 

As used in this chapter:

(A) "Soil and water conservation district" means a district organized in accordance with this chapter.

(B) "Supervisor" means one of the members of the governing body of a district.

(C) "Landowner," "owner," or "owner of land" means an owner of record as shown by the records in the office of the county recorder. With respect to an improvement or a proposed improvement, "landowner," "owner," or "owner of land" also includes any public corporation and the director of any department, office, or institution of the state that is affected by the improvement or that would be affected by the proposed improvement, but that does not own any right, title, estate, or interest in or to any real property.

(D) "Land occupier" or "occupier of land" means any person, firm, or corporation that controls the use of land whether as landowner, lessee, renter, or tenant.

(E) "Due notice" means notice published at least twice, stating time and place, with an interval of at least thirteen days between the two publication dates, in a newspaper of general circulation within a soil and water conservation district.

(F) "Agricultural pollution" means failure to use management or conservation practices in farming or silvicultural operations to abate wind or water erosion of the soil or to abate the degradation of the waters of the state by residual farm products, manure, or soil sediment, including substances attached thereto.

(G) "Urban sediment and storm water runoff pollution" means failure to use management or conservation practices to abate wind or water erosion of the soil or to abate the degradation of the waters of the state by soil sediment or storm water runoff in conjunction with land grading, excavating, filling, or other activities that disturb the soil and increase storm water runoff on land used or being developed for nonfarm commercial, industrial, residential, or other nonfarm purposes, except lands being used in a strip mine operation as defined in section 1513.01 of the Revised Code and except lands being used in a surface mining operation as defined in section 1514.01 of the Revised Code.

(H) "Uniform assessment" means an assessment that is both of the following:

(1) Based upon a complete appraisal of both of the following:

(a) Each parcel of land, together with all improvements thereon, within the area that will benefit from a proposed improvement; and

(b) The benefits or damages brought about as a result of the proposed improvement that is determined by criteria applied equally to all parcels within the area that will benefit from the proposed improvement.

(2) Levied upon the parcels at a uniform rate on the basis of the appraisal.

(I) "Varied assessment" means any assessment that does not meet the criteria established in division (H) of this section.

(J) "Benefit" or "benefits" means advantages to land and owners, to public corporations, and to the state resulting from drainage, conservation, control, and management of water and from environmental, wildlife, and recreational improvements. "Benefit" or "benefits" includes, but is not limited to, any of the following factors:

(1) Elimination or reduction of damage from flooding;

(2) Removal of water conditions that jeopardize public health, safety, or welfare;

(3) Increased value of land resulting from an improvement;

(4) Use of water for irrigation, storage, regulation of stream flow, soil conservation, water supply, or any other incidental purpose;

(5) Providing an outlet for the accelerated runoff from artificial drainage if a stream, watercourse, channel, or ditch that is under improvement is called upon to discharge functions for which it was not designed. Uplands that have been removed from their natural state by deforestation, cultivation, artificial drainage, urban development, or other human methods shall be considered to be benefited by an improvement that is required to dispose of the accelerated flow of water from the uplands.

(K) "Improvement" or "conservation works of improvement" means an improvement that is made under the authority established in division (C) of section 940.06 of the Revised Code.

(L) "Land" has the same meaning as in section 6131.01 of the Revised Code.

(M) "Manure," "operation and management plan," and "residual farm products" have the same meanings as in section 939.01 of the Revised Code.

(N) "Voluntary nutrient management plan" has the same meaning as in section 905.31 of the Revised Code.

(O) "Lead county" means the county in which the majority of the initial length of a proposed improvement would be located, as set forth in a petition, when the proposed improvement would be located in two or more counties.

(P) "Day" means calendar day.

The Legislative Service Commission presents the text of this section as a composite of the section as amended by multiple acts of the General Assembly. This presentation recognizes the principle stated in R.C. 1.52(B) that amendments are to be harmonized if reasonably capable of simultaneous operation.

Last updated June 11, 2021 at 11:07 AM

Section 940.02 | Ohio soil and water conservation commission; powers and duties.
 

There is hereby established in the department of agriculture the Ohio soil and water conservation commission. The commission shall consist of seven members of equal status and authority, six of whom shall be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate, and one of whom shall be designated by resolution of the board of directors of the Ohio federation of soil and water conservation districts. The directors of agriculture, environmental protection, and natural resources, the vice-president for agricultural administration of the Ohio state university, and an officer of the Ohio federation of soil and water conservation districts, or their designees, may serve as ex officio members of the commission, but without the power to vote. A vacancy in the office of an appointed member shall be filled by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate. Any member appointed to fill a vacancy occurring prior to the expiration of the term for which the member's predecessor was appointed shall hold office for the remainder of that term. Of the appointed members, four shall be persons who have a knowledge of or interest in agricultural production and the natural resources of the state. One member shall represent rural interests and one member shall represent urban interests. Not more than three of the appointed members shall be members of the same political party.

Terms of office of the member designated by the board of directors of the federation and the members appointed by the governor shall be for four years, commencing on the first day of July and ending on the thirtieth day of June.

Each appointed member shall hold office from the date of appointment until the end of the term for which the member was appointed. Any appointed member shall continue in office subsequent to the expiration date of the member's term until the member's successor takes office, or until a period of sixty days has elapsed, whichever occurs first.

The commission shall organize by selecting from its members a chairperson and a vice-chairperson. The commission shall hold at least one regular meeting in each quarter of each calendar year and shall keep a record of its proceedings, which shall be open to the public for inspection. Special meetings may be called by the chairperson and shall be called by the chairperson upon receipt of a written request signed by two or more members of the commission. Written notice of the time and place of each meeting shall be sent to each member of the commission. A majority of the commission shall constitute a quorum.

The commission may adopt rules as necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter, subject to Chapter 119. of the Revised Code.

The governor may remove any appointed member of the commission at any time for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office, after giving to the member a copy of the charges against the member and an opportunity to be heard publicly in person or by counsel in the member's defense. Any such act of removal by the governor is final. A statement of the findings of the governor, the reason for the governor's action, and the answer, if any, of the member shall be filed by the governor with the secretary of state and shall be open to public inspection.

All members of the commission shall be reimbursed for the necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties as members.

Upon recommendation by the commission, the director of agriculture shall designate an executive secretary and provide staff necessary to carry out the powers and duties of the commission.

The commission shall do all of the following:

(A) Determine distribution of funds under section 940.15 of the Revised Code, recommend to the director and other agencies the levels of appropriations to special funds established to assist soil and water conservation districts, and recommend the amount of federal funds to be requested and policies for the use of such funds in support of soil and water conservation district programs;

(B) Assist in keeping the board of supervisors of soil and water conservation districts informed of its powers and duties, program opportunities, and the activities and experience of all other districts, and facilitate the interchange of advice, experience, and cooperation between the districts;

(C) Seek the cooperation and assistance of the federal government or any of its agencies, and of agencies of this state, in the work of the districts;

(D) Adopt appropriate rules governing the conduct of elections provided for in this chapter, subject to Chapter 119. of the Revised Code, provided that only owners and occupiers of lands situated within the boundaries of the districts or proposed districts to which the elections apply shall be eligible to vote in the elections;

(E) Recommend to the director priorities for planning and construction of small watershed projects, and make recommendations to the director concerning coordination of programs as proposed and implemented in agreements with soil and water conservation districts;

(F) Recommend to the directors of agriculture, environmental protection, and natural resources, the governor, and the general assembly programs and legislation with respect to the operations of soil and water conservation districts that will encourage proper soil, water, and other natural resource management for farm, rural, suburban, and urban land and promote the economic and social development of the state;

(G) Recommend to the director of agriculture a procedure for coordination of a program of agricultural pollution abatement. Implementation of such a program shall be based on water quality standards adopted pursuant to section 6111.041 of the Revised Code. The director of environmental protection may coordinate with the division of soil and water conservation in the department of agriculture and soil and water conservation districts for the abatement of agricultural pollution.

The Legislative Service Commission presents the text of this section as a composite of the section as amended by multiple acts of the General Assembly. This presentation recognizes the principle stated in R.C. 1.52(B) that amendments are to be harmonized if reasonably capable of simultaneous operation.

Last updated June 11, 2021 at 10:10 AM

Section 940.03 | County to have district coextensive with its geographic area.
 

Each county shall have a soil and water conservation district coextensive with the geographic area of the county, and each district shall constitute a political subdivision of this state.

Section 940.04 | Soil and water conservation district supervisors.
 

Each soil and water conservation district shall be administered by a board consisting of the five supervisors. Elections of supervisors shall be conducted by the Ohio soil and water conservation commission pursuant to rules it adopts under Chapter 119. of the Revised Code. The term of each supervisor shall be for three years. Due notice of election of supervisors shall be given by the commission. Successors to fill unexpired terms may be appointed by the commission on the unanimous recommendation of the remaining supervisors. In any case in which a unanimous recommendation cannot be agreed upon, a successor to fill an unexpired term shall be elected in the same manner in which the supervisor's predecessor was elected.

Eligible voters and candidates for supervisor shall be at least eighteen years of age by the day of election. Candidates shall reside in the district in which the y are running for office.

Section 940.05 | Governing body of district.
 

The board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district shall consist of five supervisors, as provided for in section 940.04 of the Revised Code.

The board shall organize annually by selecting a chairperson, a secretary, and a treasurer. It shall designate one of its members as fiscal agent. A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum. The concurrence of a majority of the board in any matter shall be required for its determination. A supervisor shall receive no compensation for the supervisor's services, except when both of the following occur:

(A) A district board of supervisors designates one or more of its supervisors to represent the district on a joint district board or if an agency or instrumentality of the United States, of this state, or of a political subdivision of this state requires or requests district board representation;

(B) Such compensation is provided for by public moneys other than moneys in the special fund of the local district created pursuant to section 940.12 of the Revised Code.

A supervisor is entitled to be reimbursed for the necessary expenses incurred in the discharge of official duties.

The board of supervisors shall furnish to the Ohio soil and water conservation commission, upon its request, copies of rules, orders, contracts, forms, and other documents it adopts or employs and other information concerning its activities as it requires in the performance of its duties under this chapter.

At least once each year, a district shall submit to the commission a report of progress and operations, including a summary of receipts and disbursements during the period covered by the report. A district shall submit additional financial reports as requested by the commission.

The board shall provide for the execution of surety bonds for all employees and officers who are entrusted with funds and shall provide for the keeping of a full and accurate record of all proceedings and of all resolutions and orders issued or adopted. Any supervisor may be removed by the commission upon notice and hearing for neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.

Section 940.06 | Supervisors of soil and water conservation district; additional powers.
 

The board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district have the following powers in addition to its other powers:

(A) To conduct surveys, investigations, and research relating to the character of soil erosion, floodwater and sediment damages, and the preventive and control measures and works of improvement for flood prevention and the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water needed within the district, and to publish the results of those surveys, investigations, or research, provided that no district shall initiate any research program except in cooperation or after consultation with the Ohio agricultural research and development center;

(B) To develop plans for the conservation of soil resources, for the control and prevention of soil erosion, and for works of improvement for flood prevention and the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water within the district, and to publish those plans and information;

(C) To implement, construct, repair, maintain, and operate preventive and control measures and other works of improvement for natural resource conservation and development and flood prevention, and the conservation, development, utilization, and disposal of water within the district on lands owned or controlled by this state or any of its agencies and on any other lands within the district, which works may include any facilities authorized under state or federal programs, and to acquire, by purchase or gift, to hold, encumber, or dispose of, and to lease real and personal property or interests in such property for those purposes;

(D) To cooperate or enter into agreements with any occupier of lands within the district in the carrying on of natural resource conservation operations and works of improvement for flood prevention and the conservation, development, utilization, and management of natural resources within the district, subject to such conditions as the supervisors consider necessary;

(E) To accept donations, gifts, grants, and contributions in money, service, materials, or otherwise, and to use or expend them according to their terms;

(F) To adopt, amend, and rescind rules to carry into effect the purposes and powers of the district;

(G) To sue and plead in the name of the district, and be sued and impleaded in the name of the district, with respect to its contracts and, as indicated in section 940.07 of the Revised Code, certain torts of its officers, employees, or agents acting within the scope of their employment or official responsibilities, or with respect to the enforcement of its obligations and covenants made under this chapter;

(H) To make and enter into all contracts, leases, and agreements and execute all instruments necessary or incidental to the performance of the duties and the execution of the powers of the district under this chapter, provided that all of the following apply:

(1) Except as provided in section 307.86 of the Revised Code regarding expenditures by boards of county commissioners, when the cost under any such contract, lease, or agreement, other than compensation for personal services or rental of office space, involves an expenditure of more than the amount established in that section regarding expenditures by boards of county commissioners, the board shall make a written contract with the lowest and best bidder after advertisement, for not less than two nor more than four consecutive weeks preceding the day of the opening of bids, in a newspaper of general circulation within the district or as provided in section 7.16 of the Revised Code and in such other publications as the supervisors determine. The notice shall state the general character of the work and materials to be furnished, the place where plans and specifications may be examined, and the time and place of receiving bids.

(2) Each bid for a contract shall contain the full name of every person interested in it.

(3) Each bid for a contract for the construction, demolition, alteration, repair, or reconstruction of an improvement shall meet the requirements of section 153.54 of the Revised Code.

(4) Each bid for a contract, other than a contract for the construction, demolition, alteration, repair, or reconstruction of an improvement, at the discretion of the board, may be accompanied by a bond or certified check on a solvent bank in an amount not to exceed five per cent of the bid, conditioned that, if the bid is accepted, a contract shall be entered into.

(5) The board may reject any and all bids.

(I) To charge, alter, and collect rentals and other charges for the use or services of any works of the district;

(J) To enter, either in person or by designated representatives, upon lands, private or public, in the necessary discharge of their duties;

(K) To enter into agreements or contracts with the department of agriculture for the determination, implementation, inspection, and funding of agricultural pollution abatement measures whereby landowners, operators, managers, and developers may meet adopted state standards for a quality environment, except that failure of a board to negotiate an agreement or contract with the department authorizes the department to implement the required program;

(L) To conduct demonstrations and provide information to the public regarding practices and methods for natural resource conservation, development, and utilization;

(M) To enter into contracts or agreements with, and seek technical guidance and program support from, the director of environmental protection in furtherance of actions to abate urban sediment and storm water runoff pollution;

(N) To enter into contracts or agreements with the director of natural resources for partnership on state programs to assist with local needs relating to the management of wildlife, forestry, waterways, and other natural resources programs;

(O) To develop operation and management plans as necessary;

(P) To determine whether operation and management plans developed under division (A) of section 939.03 of the Revised Code comply with the standards established under division (E)(1) of section 939.02 of the Revised Code and to approve or disapprove the plans, based on such compliance. If an operation and management plan is disapproved, the board shall provide a written explanation to the person who submitted the plan. The person may appeal the plan disapproval to the director of agriculture or the director's designee, who shall afford the person a hearing. Following the hearing, the director or the director's designee shall uphold the plan disapproval or reverse it. If the director or the director's designee reverses the plan disapproval, the plan shall be deemed approved under this division. In the event that any person operating or owning agricultural land or an animal feeding operation in accordance with an approved operation and management plan who, in good faith, is following that plan, causes agricultural pollution, the plan shall be revised in a fashion necessary to mitigate the agricultural pollution, as determined and approved by the board.

(Q) To develop timber harvest plans;

(R) To determine whether timber harvest plans developed under division (A) of section 1503.52 of the Revised Code comply with the standards established under division (A)(1) of section 1503.51 of the Revised Code and to approve or disapprove the plans based on such compliance. If a timber harvest plan is disapproved, the board shall provide a written explanation to the person who submitted the plan. The person may appeal the plan disapproval to the chief of the division of forestry or the chief's designee, who shall afford the person a hearing. Following the hearing, the chief or the chief's designee shall uphold the plan disapproval or reverse it. If the chief or the chief's designee reverses the plan disapproval, the plan shall be deemed approved under this division.

(S) With regard to composting conducted in conjunction with agricultural operations, to do all of the following:

(1) Upon request or upon their own initiative, inspect composting at any such operation to determine whether the composting is being conducted in accordance with section 939.04 of the Revised Code;

(2) If the board determines that composting is not being so conducted, request the director to take corrective actions under section 939.07 of the Revised Code that require the person who is conducting the composting to prepare a composting plan in accordance with rules adopted under division (E)(5)(a) of section 939.02 of the Revised Code and to operate in accordance with that plan or to operate in accordance with a previously prepared plan, as applicable;

(3) In accordance with rules adopted under division (E)(5)(b) of section 939.02 of the Revised Code, review and approve or disapprove any such composting plan. If a plan is disapproved, the board shall provide a written explanation to the person who submitted the plan.

As used in division (S) of this section, "composting" has the same meaning as in section 939.01 of the Revised Code.

(T) With regard to conservation activities that are conducted in conjunction with agricultural operations, to assist the county auditor, upon request, in determining whether a conservation activity is a conservation practice for purposes of Chapter 929. or sections 5713.30 to 5713.37 and 5715.01 of the Revised Code.

As used in this division, "conservation practice" has the same meaning as in section 5713.30 of the Revised Code.

(U) To develop and approve or disapprove voluntary nutrient management plans in accordance with section 905.323 of the Revised Code;

(V) To consult and work with the watershed planning and management coordinator assigned to the watershed region in which the soil and water conservation district is located under section 940.41 of the Revised Code;

(W) To do all acts necessary or proper to carry out the powers granted in this chapter.

The director of agriculture shall make recommendations to reduce the adverse environmental effects of each project that a soil and water conservation district plans to undertake under division (A), (B), (C), or (D) of this section and that will be funded in whole or in part by moneys authorized under section 940.17 of the Revised Code and shall disapprove any such project that the director finds will adversely affect the environment without equal or greater benefit to the public. The director's disapproval or recommendations, upon the request of the district filed in accordance with rules adopted by the Ohio soil and water conservation commission, shall be reviewed by the commission, which may confirm the director's decision, modify it, or add recommendations to or approve a project the director has disapproved.

Any instrument by which real property is acquired pursuant to this section shall identify the agency of the state that has the use and benefit of the real property as specified in section 5301.012 of the Revised Code.

The Legislative Service Commission presents the text of this section as a composite of the section as amended by multiple acts of the General Assembly. This presentation recognizes the principle stated in R.C. 1.52(B) that amendments are to be harmonized if reasonably capable of simultaneous operation.

Last updated August 10, 2021 at 2:28 PM

Section 940.07 | Defense of tort actions.
 

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Judgment" includes a consent judgment.

(2) "Tort action" means a civil action for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property, other than a civil action for damages for a breach of contract or another agreement between persons.

(B) Except as provided in divisions (C) and (D) of this section, the provisions of Chapter 2744. of the Revised Code apply to soil and water conservation districts as political subdivisions of the state and to their boards of supervisors and other officers, employees, and agents as employees of political subdivisions of the state.

(C)(1) The attorney general, an assistant attorney general, or special counsel appointed by the attorney general shall defend a soil and water conservation district in any tort action that is commenced against the district as a political subdivision of the state under or pursuant to Chapter 2744. of the Revised Code, if a written request for the legal representation is submitted to the attorney general by the Ohio soil and water conservation commission. If a request is so submitted, the prosecuting attorney of the county associated with the district does not have legal representation duties in connection with the tort action under section 940.13 of the Revised Code.

(2) The attorney general, an assistant attorney general, or special counsel appointed by the attorney general shall defend a supervisor or other officer, employee, or agent of a soil and water conservation district in any tort action that is commenced against that person and based upon an action or omission allegedly associated with that person's employment or official responsibilities for the district, if both of the following apply:

(a) At the time of the action or omission, the person was not acting manifestly outside the scope of the person's employment or official responsibilities for the district or acting with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner;

(b) A written request for the legal representation is submitted to the attorney general by the Ohio soil and water conservation commission.

(3) If a request for legal representation is submitted to the attorney general pursuant to division (C)(2) of this section, divisions (A) and (D) of section 2744.07 of the Revised Code do not apply to the soil and water conservation district and the defense of its supervisor or other officer, employee, or agent.

(D)(1) The state shall indemnify and hold harmless a soil and water conservation district as follows:

(a) In the amount of any judgment that is rendered against the district in a tort action that is commenced under or pursuant to Chapter 2744. of the Revised Code;

(b) In the amount of any settlement of a tort action against the district as described in division (D)(1)(a) of this section, or of a claim for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property that could become a basis of a tort action against the district as described in division (D)(1)(a) of this section.

(2) The state shall indemnify and hold harmless a supervisor or other officer, employee, or agent of a soil and water conservation district as follows:

(a) Subject to the limitations specified in division (D)(3) of this section, in the amount of any judgment that is rendered against that person in a tort action based upon an action or omission allegedly associated with the person's employment or official responsibilities for the district;

(b) Subject to the limitations specified in division (D)(3) of this section, in the amount of any settlement of a tort action as described in division (D)(2)(a) of this section or of any settlement of a claim for damages for injury, death, or loss to person or property that could become a basis of a tort action as described in division (D)(2)(a) of this section.

(3)(a) The maximum aggregate amount of indemnification paid directly from state funds to or on behalf of any supervisor or other officer, employee, or agent of a soil and water conservation district pursuant to divisions (D)(2)(a) and (b) of this section shall be one million dollars per occurrence, regardless of the number of persons who suffer injury, death, or loss to person or property as a result of the action or omission of that person.

(b) An indemnification may be made pursuant to division (D)(2)(a) or (b) of this section only if, at the time of the action or omission, the supervisor or other officer, employee, or agent of a soil and water conservation district was not acting manifestly outside the scope of the supervisor's or other officer's, employee's, or agent's employment or official responsibilities for the district or acting with malicious purpose, in bad faith, or in a wanton or reckless manner.

(c) An indemnification shall not be made pursuant to division (D)(2)(a) or (b) of this section for any portion of a consent judgment or settlement that is unreasonable or for any portion of a judgment that represents punitive or exemplary damages.

(4) Division (B) of section 2744.07 of the Revised Code does not apply to a soil and water conservation district, or to any of its supervisors or other officers, employees, or agents, to the extent that division (D) of this section requires the state to indemnify and hold harmless a supervisor or other officer, employee, or agent of that district.

Section 940.08 | Supervisors to employ assistants and personnel and acquire materials, equipment, supplies and offices.
 

The board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district may employ assistants and such other employees as it considers necessary and may provide for the payment of the reasonable compensation of such assistants and employees and expenses incurred by them in the discharge of their duties from the special fund established for the district pursuant to section 940.12 of the Revised Code.

District employees are entitled to the sick leave benefits that are provided in section 124.38 of the Revised Code and the vacation leave benefits that are provided in section 325.19 of the Revised Code and are entitled to participate in the sick leave donation program established under section 940.09 of the Revised Code.

The board may designate the amounts and forms of other benefits, including insurance protection, to be provided to employees and may make payments of benefits from the district fund that is created with moneys accepted by the supervisors in accordance with division (E) of section 940.06 of the Revised Code or from the special fund created pursuant to section 940.12 of the Revised Code. The board of county commissioners may make payments of benefits that are provided under this section.

The board of supervisors may purchase such materials, equipment, and supplies, may lease such equipment, and may rent, purchase, or construct, and maintain, such offices, and provide for such equipment and supplies therefor, as it considers necessary and may pay for the same from the special fund established for the district pursuant to section 940.12 of the Revised Code.

Section 940.09 | Donated sick leave program; procedure.
 

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Receiving employee" means an employee of a soil and water conservation district who receives donated sick leave as authorized by this section.

(2) "Donating employee" means an employee of a soil and water conservation district who donates sick leave as authorized by this section.

(3) "Paid leave" has the same meaning as in section 124.391 of the Revised Code.

(4) "Full-time employee" means an employee of a soil and water conservation district whose regular hours of service for the district total forty hours per week or who renders any other standard of service accepted as full-time by the district.

(5) "Full-time limited hours employee" means an employee of a soil and water conservation district whose regular hours of service for the district total twenty-five to thirty-nine hours per week or who renders any other standard of service accepted as full-time limited hours by the district.

(B)(1) An employee of a soil and water conservation district is eligible to become a receiving employee if the employee is a full-time employee, or a full-time limited hours employee, who has completed the prescribed probationary period, has used up all accrued paid leave, and has been placed on an approved, unpaid, medical-related leave of absence for a period of at least thirty consecutive working days because of the employee's own serious illness or because of a serious illness of a member of the employee's immediate family.

(2) An employee who desires to become a receiving employee shall submit to the board of supervisors of the employing soil and water conservation district, along with a satisfactory physician's certification, a written request for donated sick leave. The board of supervisors shall determine whether the employee is eligible to become a receiving employee and shall approve the request if it determines the employee is eligible.

(C)(1) A board of supervisors that approves a request for an employee to become a receiving employee shall forward the approved application to a committee that the Ohio association of soil and water conservation district employees shall appoint to act as a clearinghouse for the donation of sick leave under this section. The committee shall post notice for not less than ten days informing all employees of soil and water conservation districts throughout the state that it has received an approved application to become a receiving employee.

(2) A soil and water conservation district employee desiring to become a donating employee shall complete and submit a sick leave donation form to the employee's immediate supervisor within twenty days after the date of the initial posting of the notice described in division (C)(1) of this section. If the board of supervisors of the employing district of an employee desiring to become a donating employee approves the sick leave donation, the board shall forward to the committee, together with a check equal to the total value of the sick leave donation, a copy of the sick leave donation form, and the board shall notify the receiving employee regarding the donation.

(D) If the committee described in division (C)(1) of this section receives a sick leave donation form and a check from a board of supervisors, the committee shall deposit the check into an account that it shall establish to be used to dispense funds to the employing district of a receiving employee. The committee shall notify the board of supervisors of the employing district of a receiving employee of the amount of sick leave donated. The board of supervisors shall bill the committee during each pay period for the receiving employee's gross hourly wages in an amount that does not exceed the amount donated to the receiving employee. The board of supervisors, with the approval of the county auditor, shall provide for the deposit into its appropriate payroll account of any payments it receives for the benefit of a receiving employee.

(E) The donation and receipt of sick leave under this section is subject to all of the following:

(1) All donations of sick leave shall be voluntary.

(2) A donating employee is eligible to donate not less than eight hours and not more than eighty hours of sick leave during the same calendar year.

(3) The value of an hour of sick leave donated is the value of the donating employee's gross hourly wage. The number of hours received by a receiving employee from a donating employee shall be a number that, when multiplied by the receiving employee's gross hourly wage, equals the amount resulting when the donating employee's gross hourly wage is multiplied by the number of hours of sick leave donated.

(4) No paid leave shall accrue to a receiving employee for any compensation received through donated sick leave, and the receipt of donated sick leave does not affect the date on which a receiving employee first qualifies for continuation of health insurance coverage.

(5) If a receiving employee does not use all donated sick leave during the period of the employee's leave of absence, the unused balance shall remain in the account that the committee described in division (C)(1) of this section established under division (D) of this section and shall be used to dispense funds in the future to the employing district of a receiving employee.

Section 940.10 | Sale of unneeded personal property of district.
 

(A) When the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district find, by resolution, that the district has personal property, including motor vehicles acquired for the use of district officers, road machinery, equipment, tools, or supplies, that is not needed for public use, or is obsolete or unfit for the use for which it was acquired, the board may sell such property at public auction or by sealed bid to the highest bidder. The board may sell the property after giving at least ten days' notice of the time, place, and manner of sale by posting a typewritten or printed notice in the office of the board of county commissioners. If the fair market value of the property to be sold pursuant to this division is, in the opinion of the board of supervisors, in excess of two thousand dollars, notice of the time, place, and manner of the sale shall also be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the district at least ten days prior to such sale. The board may authorize the sale of such personal property without advertisement or public notification and competitive bidding to the federal government, the state, or any political subdivision of the state.

If the board conducts a sale of personal property by sealed bid, the form of the bid shall be as prescribed by the board, and each bid shall contain the name of the person submitting it. Bids received shall be opened and tabulated at the time stated in the notice. The property shall be sold to the highest bidder, except that the board may reject all bids and hold another sale, by public auction or sealed bid, in the manner prescribed by this section.

(B) Where the board finds, by resolution, that the district has vehicles, equipment, or machinery that is not needed, or is unfit for public use, and the board desires to sell such vehicles, equipment, or machinery to the person or firm from which it proposes to purchase other vehicles, equipment, or machinery, the board may offer to do both of the following:

(1) Sell the vehicles, equipment, or machinery to such person or firm; and

(2) Have such selling price credited to the person or firm against the purchase price of other vehicles, equipment, or machinery.

(C) Where the board advertises for bids for the sale of new vehicles, equipment, or machinery to the district, it may include in the same advertisement a notice of its willingness to do both of the following:

(1) Accept bids for the purchase of district-owned vehicles, equipment, or machinery that is obsolete or not needed for public use; and

(2) Have the amount of such bids subtracted from the selling price of the other vehicles, equipment, or machinery as a means of determining the lowest responsible bidder.

Section 940.11 | Policies for soil and water conservation district credit card accounts.
 

(A) Not later than three months after November 2, 2018, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district that hold a credit card account on November 2, 2018, shall adopt a written policy for the use of credit card accounts. Otherwise, the board shall adopt a written policy before first holding a credit card account.

The policy shall include provisions addressing all of the following:

(1) The members of the board or positions authorized to use a credit card account;

(2) The types of expenses for which a credit card account may be used;

(3) The procedure for acquisition, use, and management of a credit card account and presentation instruments related to the account including cards and checks;

(4) The procedure for submitting itemized receipts to the fiscal agent or the fiscal agent's designee;

(5) The procedure for credit card issuance, credit card reissuance, credit card cancellation, and the process for reporting lost or stolen credit cards;

(6) The district's credit card account's maximum credit limit or limits;

(7) The actions or omissions by an officer or employee that qualify as misuse of a credit card account.

(B) The name of the soil and water conservation district shall appear on each presentation instrument related to the account including cards and checks.

(C) If the fiscal agent of the district does not retain general possession and control of the credit card account and presentation instruments related to the account including cards and checks, the board shall appoint a compliance officer to perform the duties enumerated under division (D) of this section. The compliance officer may not use a credit card account and may not authorize a board member or employee to use a credit card account. The fiscal agent is not eligible for appointment as compliance officer.

(D) The compliance officer, if applicable, and the board at least quarterly shall review the number of cards and accounts issued, the number of active cards and accounts issued, the cards' and accounts' expiration dates, and the cards' and accounts' credit limits.

(E) If the fiscal agent retains general possession and control of the credit card account and presentation instruments related to the account including cards and checks, and the board authorize a board member or employee to use a credit card, the fiscal agent may use a system to sign out credit cards to the authorized users. The board member or employee is liable in person and upon any official bond the member or employee has given to the district to reimburse the district treasury the amount for which the member or employee does not provide itemized receipts in accordance with the policy described in division (A) of this section.

(F) The use of a credit card account for expenses beyond those authorized by the board constitutes misuse of a credit card account. A board member or employee of a soil and water conservation district or a public servant as defined under section 2921.01 of the Revised Code who knowingly misuses a credit card account held on behalf of a soil and water conservation district violates section 2913.21 of the Revised Code.

(G) The fiscal agent or the fiscal agent's designee annually shall file a report with the board detailing all rewards received based on the use of the soil and water conservation district's credit card account.

(H) As used in this section, "credit card account" means any bank-issued credit card account, store-issued credit card account, financial institution-issued credit card account, financial depository-issued credit card account, affinity credit card account, or any other card account allowing the holder to purchase goods or services on credit or to transact with the account, and any debit or gift card account related to the receipt of grant moneys. "Credit card account" does not include a procurement card account, gasoline or telephone credit card account, or any other card account where merchant category codes are in place as a system of control for use of the card account.

Section 940.111 | Acceptance of payments by financial transaction devices.
 

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Financial transaction device" includes a credit card, debit card, charge card, or prepaid or stored value card, or automated clearinghouse network credit, debit, or e-check entry that includes, but is not limited to, accounts receivable and internet-initiated, point of purchase, and telephone-initiated applications or any other device or method for making an electronic payment or transfer of funds.

(2) "Soil and water district officials" includes the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district and employees of the district.

(3) "Soil and water district expenses" includes payments or any other expense a person owes or otherwise pays to a soil and water conservation district under the authority of this chapter.

(B) Notwithstanding any other section of the Revised Code, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district may adopt a resolution authorizing the acceptance of payments by financial transaction devices for soil and water district expenses.

The resolution shall include the following:

(1) A specification of those soil and water district officials who are authorized to accept payments by financial transaction device;

(2) A list of soil and water district expenses that may be paid for through the use of a financial transaction device;

(3) Specific identification of financial transaction devices that the board authorizes as acceptable means of payment for soil and water district expenses. Uniform acceptance of financial transaction devices among different types of soil and water district expenses is not required.

(4) The amount, if any, authorized as a surcharge or convenience fee under division (D) of this section for persons using a financial transaction device. Uniform application of surcharges or convenience fees among different types of soil and water district expenses is not required.

(5) A specific provision as provided in division (F) of this section requiring the payment of a penalty if a payment made by means of a financial transaction device is returned or dishonored for any reason.

The board's resolution shall also designate the county treasurer as an administrative agent to solicit proposals, within guidelines established by the board in the resolution and in compliance with the procedures provided in division (C) of this section, from financial institutions, issuers of financial transaction devices, and processors of financial transaction devices, to make recommendations about those proposals to the board, and to assist the soil and water conservation district in implementing the board's financial transaction devices program. The county treasurer may decline this responsibility within thirty days after receiving a copy of the board's resolution by notifying the board in writing within that period. If the treasurer so notifies the board, the board shall perform the duties of the administrative agent.

If the county treasurer is the administrative agent and fails to administer the board's financial transaction devices program in accordance with the guidelines in the board's resolution, the board shall notify the treasurer in writing of the board's findings, explain the failures, and give the treasurer six months to correct the failures. If the treasurer fails to make the appropriate corrections within that six-month period, the board may adopt a resolution declaring the board to be the administrative agent. The board may later rescind that resolution at its discretion.

(C) The board shall follow the procedures provided in this division whenever it plans to contract with financial institutions, issuers of financial transaction devices, or processors of financial transaction devices for the purposes of this section. The administrative agent shall request proposals from at least three financial institutions, issuers of financial transaction devices, or processors of financial transaction devices, as appropriate in accordance with the resolution adopted under division (B) of this section. Prior to sending any financial institution, issuer, or processor a copy of any such request, the board shall advertise its intent to request proposals in a newspaper of general circulation in the soil and water conservation district once a week for two consecutive weeks or as provided in section 7.16 of the Revised Code.

The notice shall:

(1) State that the board intends to request proposals;

(2) Specify the purpose of the request;

(3) Indicate the date, which shall be at least ten days after the second publication, on which the request for proposals will be mailed to financial institutions, issuers, or processors;

(4) Require that any financial institution, issuer, or processor, whichever is appropriate, interested in receiving the request for proposals submit written notice of this interest to the board not later than noon of the day on which the request for proposals will be mailed.

Upon receiving the proposals, the administrative agent shall review them and make a recommendation to the board on which proposals to accept. The board shall consider the agent's recommendation and review all proposals submitted, and then may choose to contract with any or all of the entities submitting proposals, as appropriate. The board shall provide any financial institution, issuer, or processor that submitted a proposal, but with which the board does not enter into a contract, notice that its proposal is rejected. The notice shall state the reasons for the rejection, indicate whose proposals were accepted, and provide a copy of the terms and conditions of the successful bids.

(D) A board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district may establish a surcharge or convenience fee that may be imposed upon a person making payment by a financial transaction device. The surcharge or convenience fee shall not be imposed unless authorized or otherwise permitted by the rules prescribed by an agreement governing the use and acceptance of the financial transaction device. If a surcharge or convenience fee is imposed, the board shall clearly post a notice and shall notify each person making a payment by such a device about the surcharge or fee. Notice to each person making a payment shall be provided regardless of the medium used to make the payment and in a manner appropriate to that medium.

Each notice shall include all of the following:

(1) A statement that there is a surcharge or convenience fee for using a financial transaction device;

(2) The total amount of the charge or fee expressed in dollars and cents for each transaction, or the rate of the charge or fee expressed as a percentage of the total amount of the transaction, whichever is applicable;

(3) A clear statement that the surcharge or convenience fee is nonrefundable.

(E) If a person elects to make a payment to the soil and water conservation district by a financial transaction device and a surcharge or convenience fee is imposed, the payment of the surcharge or fee shall be considered voluntary and the surcharge or fee is not refundable.

(F) If a person makes payment by financial transaction device and the payment is returned or dishonored for any reason, the person is liable to the soil and water conservation district for payment of a penalty over and above the amount of the expense due. The board shall determine the amount of the penalty, which may be either a fee not to exceed twenty dollars or payment of the amount necessary to reimburse the district for banking charges, legal fees, or other expenses incurred by the district in collecting the returned or dishonored payment. The remedies and procedures provided in this section are in addition to any other available civil or criminal remedies provided by law.

(G) No person making any payment by financial transaction device to a soil and water conservation district shall be relieved from liability for the underlying obligation except to the extent that the district realizes final payment of the underlying obligation in cash or its equivalent. If final payment is not made by the financial transaction device issuer or other guarantor of payment in the transaction, the underlying obligation survives and the district retains all remedies for enforcement that would have applied if the transaction had not occurred.

(H) A soil and water district official who accepts a financial transaction device payment in accordance with this section and any applicable state or local policies or rules is immune from personal liability for the final collection of such payments.

Last updated July 14, 2021 at 5:26 PM

Section 940.12 | Levy of tax within ten-mill limitation.
 

The board of county commissioners of each county in which there is a soil and water conservation district may levy a tax within the ten-mill limitation and may appropriate money from the proceeds of the levy or from the general fund of the county. The money shall be held in a special fund for the credit of the district, to be expended for the purposes prescribed in section 940.08 of the Revised Code or under the policy adopted under section 940.11 of the Revised Code, for construction and maintenance of improvements by the district, and for other expenses incurred in carrying out the program of the district upon the written order of the fiscal agent for the district after authorization by a majority of the board of supervisors of the district.

Section 940.13 | Prosecuting attorney is legal adviser.
 

(A) The prosecuting attorney of a county in which there is a soil and water conservation district is the legal adviser of the district. The prosecuting attorney is the legal counsel of such district in all civil actions brought by or against it and shall conduct all such actions in the prosecuting attorney's official capacity. The board of supervisors of a district may also employ such attorneys as may be necessary or desirable in the operations of the district.

(B) The prosecuting attorney of a lead county that is represented on a joint board of supervisors created under section 940.34 of the Revised Code is the legal advisor of the joint board in all civil actions brought by or against the joint board. The prosecuting attorney shall conduct all such actions in the prosecuting attorney's official capacity. The joint board may employ other attorneys as may be necessary or desirable in the operations of the joint board.

Section 940.14 | Infringement of rights.
 

This chapter does not infringe upon the rights, powers, and authority vested by law in the division of wildlife in the department of natural resources.

Section 940.15 | Payments to local soil and water conservation districts.
 

(A) Within the limits of funds appropriated to the department of agriculture and the soil and water conservation district assistance fund created in this section, there shall be paid in each calendar year to each soil and water conservation district a matching amount not to exceed one dollar for each one dollar received by a district as follows:

(1) In accordance with section 940.12 of the Revised Code;

(2) From tax levies in excess of the ten-mill levy limitation approved for the benefit of soil and water conservation districts; or

(3) From an appropriation by a municipal corporation or a township to a maximum of eight thousand dollars, provided that the Ohio soil and water conservation commission may approve payment to a district in an amount in excess of eight thousand dollars in any calendar year upon receipt of a request and justification from the district.

The county auditor shall credit such payments to the special fund established pursuant to section 940.12 of the Revised Code for the soil and water conservation district. The department may make advances at least quarterly to each district on the basis of the estimated contribution of the state to each district. Moneys received by each district shall be expended for the purposes of the district.

(B) For the purpose of providing money to soil and water conservation districts under this section, there is hereby created in the state treasury the soil and water conservation district assistance fund consisting of money credited to it under sections 3714.073 and 3734.901 and division (A)(4) of section 3734.57 of the Revised Code.

Section 940.16 | Advance of moneys from soil and water conservation fund; repayment.
 

A board of county commissioners may apply to the Ohio soil and water conservation commission for an advance of moneys from the soil and water conservation fund, which is hereby created in the state treasury, to enable a soil and water conservation district to pay all or part of the cost of surveys and plans, appraisals, estimates of cost, land options, and other incidental expenses of constructing works of improvement for the district. The commission shall consider the application and shall recommend an amount of moneys reasonably needed for that purpose.

The order of the commission recommending the amount of the moneys needed shall be certified to the controlling board. The controlling board shall then determine the amount to be advanced to the county and shall certify its action to the director of budget and management for payment.

All such amounts received by any such district shall be repaid by the board of county commissioners to the state immediately upon the receipt by the board of funds from the sale of bonds or from other sources that may be used for that purpose, or in such number of equal annual installments, not exceeding five, and commencing at such time, as shall be specified in the order of the commission.

If an unfavorable referendum or court decision has denied the work of improvement, the controlling board, upon receipt of sufficient and satisfactory evidence that the board and district have proceeded in good faith and the recommendation of the commission, shall relieve the board or district of its repayment obligation.

Section 940.17 | Sharing costs of improvement by conservation district.
 

The director of agriculture, upon recommendation by the Ohio soil and water conservation commission, may enter into agreements with boards of county commissioners under which the state shares the cost of construction of works of improvement constructed by the county for a soil and water conservation district. The state share shall be paid from moneys appropriated for such purposes. The state share authorized under this section shall not exceed fifty per cent of the nonfederal cost of the project.

Section 940.19 | Petition to supervisors for construction of conservation improvement.
 

(A) An owner of land that is located in a soil and water conservation district may file a petition with the board of supervisors of the district requesting the construction of a conservation work of improvement. Prior to filing a petition, the petitioner shall consult with the district to discuss the proposed drainage improvement and to determine the proper forms and procedures for filing the petition.

(B) The petition shall include all of the following:

(1) A statement of the nature of the work for which a petition is filed, including locating, cleaning, removing obstructions from, constructing, reconstructing, straightening, deepening, widening, altering, boxing, tiling, filling, walling, or arching any ditch, drain, watercourse, floodway, creek, run, or river; changing the course, location, or terminus thereof; or constructing a levee, wall, embankment, jetty, dike, dam, sluice, revetment, reservoir, holding basin, control gate, breakwater, or other structure for the control of water;

(2) A description, including location, of the course and termini of the proposed improvement and the branches, spurs, or laterals, if any are petitioned for;

(3) A statement that the construction of the improvement is necessary and will benefit the petitioner; and

(4) A statement that all costs of engineering, construction, and future maintenance will be assessed to the benefiting parcels of land.

(C) The board shall make a preliminary determination to accept or reject the petition at the board's next scheduled meeting.

(D)(1) The board may reject the petition for any of the following reasons:

(a) The board determines that the information that the petition contains about the proposed improvement is insufficient to enable the board to proceed with the petition under this chapter.

(b) The petition appears to be frivolous.

(c) The district lacks sufficient staff or other resources to proceed with the improvement in accordance with this chapter.

(2) If the board rejects the petition, it shall notify the petitioner in writing of the reasons for the rejection. The petitioner may amend a petition that is rejected due to insufficient information and may subsequently file the amended petition with the board.

(E) If the board accepts the petition for a proposed improvement, the board shall do both of the following:

(1) Establish a date and time for a view of the proposed improvement. The date shall be not fewer than thirty nor more than ninety days after the date on which the petition was accepted. The board shall designate a convenient location at which the view shall occur.

(2) Establish a date and time on and at which and designate a location at which the board will hold a hearing on the proposed improvement. The hearing shall occur not fewer than thirty nor more than ninety days after the date established for the view.

(F) If a petitioner proposes an improvement that would be located in two or more adjoining soil and water conservation districts, the board of supervisors that receives the petition shall provide notice of the petition to the board of supervisors of each other county in which the proposed improvement would be located. The boards then shall create a joint board of supervisors under section 940.34 of the Revised Code and proceed in accordance with that section.

Section 940.20 | Notice of hearing on proposed improvement.
 

(A) At least twenty-one days prior to the date established for the view, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district shall send a written notice of the view and the hearing to all landowners within the area to be benefited by the proposed improvement and to the board of county commissioners and the county engineer. The board shall ensure that the notice contains all of the following:

(1) The date, time, and location for the view and the subsequent hearing;

(2) A description of the proposed improvement and its location as stated in the petition, a map indicating the location of the proposed improvement or information on where to access the map, and an explanation of how to obtain additional information or ask questions about the proposed improvement;

(3) A statement that all costs of engineering, construction, and future maintenance will be assessed to the benefiting parcels of land;

(4) A statement that a landowner may file, not more than twenty-one days after the date of the view, an amendment to the original petition that expands the length of the proposed improvement, provided that the amendment does not expand the area to be benefited by the proposed improvement;

(5) A statement that any landowner receiving the notice may comment on the proposed improvement in writing before or in person at the hearing on the petition;

(6) The address at which to file an amendment to the petition or submit written comments on the proposed improvement.

(B) The board shall notify all landowners that are adjacent to the proposed improvement either by certified mail or, if the board has record of an internet identifier of record associated with such a landowner, by ordinary mail and by that internet identifier of record, and shall notify all others by certified mail or first class mailings. The written notice shall have the words "Legal Notice" printed in plain view on the face of the envelope or, in the case of service by an internet identifier of record, in conspicuous typeface at the top of the notice.

(C) The board shall invite to the view and the hearing the staff of the soil and water conservation district and the staff of the natural resources conservation service in the United States department of agriculture that is involved with the district together with any other people that the board considers to be necessary to the proceedings.

(D) As used in this section, "internet identifier of record" has the same meaning as in section 9.312 of the Revised Code.

Section 940.21 | View of site of proposed improvement.
 

(A) On the date established for the view of a proposed improvement, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district or its designee shall present an overview of the proposed improvement. In the presentation, the board or its designee shall use methods and means that the board determines will adequately inform those attending the view about the proposed improvement's location and the drainage issues intended to be addressed by the proposed improvement.

(B) Upon the request made at the view of a member of the board or of a landowner in the area to be benefited by the proposed improvement, the board or its designee shall recess the view and reconvene at a site along the proposed improvement for the purpose of gaining additional information about the drainage issue intended to be addressed by the proposed improvement. If the area to be viewed is extensive, the board or its designee may conduct the view on more than one day and may adjourn from day to day, or a longer period, until the view is completed.

Section 940.22 | Preliminary report on proposed improvement; alternate proposals; review by engineer.
 

(A) Upon acceptance of a petition requesting the construction of an improvement, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district shall begin to prepare a preliminary report regarding the proposed improvement. The board shall present the completed preliminary report at the hearing that is held on the proposed improvement.

(B) The board shall ensure that the preliminary report includes all of the following:

(1) A preliminary estimate of the cost of construction for the proposed improvement;

(2) Comments on the feasibility of the proposed improvement;

(3) A statement of the board's opinion as to whether the benefits from the proposed improvement are likely to exceed the estimated cost;

(4) A list of all factors identified by the board, both favorable and unfavorable to the proposed improvement, so that the petitioners may be informed concerning what is involved with the construction of the proposed improvement.

(C) In addition to preparing a preliminary report on the improvement as petitioned, the board may submit alternate proposals to accomplish the intent of the petition.

(D) The preliminary report and all alternate proposals shall be reviewed and receive concurrence from an engineer who is employed by the department of agriculture or by the natural resources conservation service in the United States department of agriculture and who is responsible for providing technical assistance to the district or from any other registered professional engineer selected by the board of supervisors.

Section 940.23 | Hearing on petition; objections by affected landowners.
 

(A) On the date and at the time established by the board of supervisors for the hearing on a petition for a proposed improvement, the board shall conduct the hearing. At the hearing, the board shall do both of the following:

(1) Present the board's preliminary report on the proposed improvement;

(2) Hear any comments or evidence offered by any landowner for or against the proposed improvement.

(B) If necessary, the board may recess and continue the hearing on subsequent days as may be reasonable to consider additional information about the proposed improvement or so that all interested landowners may have an opportunity to comment on the proposed improvement.

(C) At the conclusion of the hearing, the board shall vote to decide whether to proceed with a project survey and design or to dismiss the petition. In making its decision, the board shall take into consideration all of the following:

(1) The petition;

(2) The preliminary report;

(3) Comments on the proposed improvement;

(4) The protection of environmentally significant areas when those areas could be adversely affected by the construction of the proposed improvement and, if necessary, alternative plans providing for that protection and for construction of the proposed improvement.

(D) The board may proceed with the project survey and design for a proposed improvement if both of the following apply:

(1) The board finds that a proposed improvement is necessary and is conducive to the public welfare.

(2) The board is reasonably certain that the benefits of the proposed improvement will outweigh its costs.

Section 940.24 | Surveys, plans and maps, construction specifications, cost estimates.
 

After a vote of the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district to proceed with a project survey and design for a proposed improvement, the board or its designee shall conduct all necessary surveys for the proposed improvement. In addition, the board or its designee shall prepare plans for constructing the improvement. The plans shall include all of the following:

(A) Specifications for construction of the improvement;

(B) Dimensions of any temporary easement that is necessary for construction purposes;

(C) In the case of an improvement that is a ditch or similar structure for the disposal of water, provisions for all of the following:

(1) Spreading and leveling of spoil banks;

(2) Erosion and sediment control through the establishment of a sod or seeded strip or other such controls if suitable vegetative cover is not present. With regard to sod or seeded strips, the board shall ensure that the plan provides that such strips will be not fewer than ten feet nor more than fifteen feet wide, measured at right angles to the top of the ditch bank on both sides of the ditch. Sod or seeded strips or other such controls are considered part of the permanent improvement. The board or its designee shall report to the county auditor the total acreage of sod or seeded strips or other such controls that are established and maintained in accordance with this chapter. The county auditor shall remove the total acreage of sod or seeded strips or other such controls from the taxable valuation of the property of which they are a part.

(D) An analysis of all fences, floodgates, culverts, bridges, and other structures that will be removed or adjusted in constructing the improvement;

(E) An analysis of any gates that need to be installed in existing fences in order to provide access to the improvement for maintenance purposes. The plan shall require gates to be locked when requested by the owner of the fence. Gates are part of the original improvement and subject to maintenance along with the improvement.

Section 940.25 | Schedule of damages.
 

(A) After preparing the project survey, design, and plans for constructing the proposed improvement, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district shall prepare a schedule of damages as part of the estimate of the total cost of constructing the proposed improvement.

(B) The schedule of damages shall include both of the following:

(1) An estimate of the value of land or other property necessary to be acquired through purchase or voluntary transfer or appropriated in accordance with sections 163.01 to 163.62 of the Revised Code and a description of that land or other property;

(2) An estimate of the total damages to be sustained by any landowner as a result of the construction and subsequent maintenance of a proposed improvement, along with the name and address of each landowner that is alleged to be damaged, the amount of each landowner's estimated damages, and an explanation of each landowner's damages.

Section 940.26 | Cost estimate.
 

After preparing a schedule of damages, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district or its designee shall make an estimate of the cost of the proposed improvement. The estimate shall include all of the following:

(A) Actual construction costs, including costs of addressing the construction specifications set forth in section 940.24 of the Revised Code;

(B) The estimated costs included in the schedule of damages prepared under section 940.25 of the Revised Code;

(C) Any expenses incurred in investigations, consulting services, and notifications related to the proposed improvement, and any other incidental costs.

Section 940.27 | Schedule of estimated assessments.
 

(A) After preparing an estimate of the cost of a proposed improvement, the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district or its designee shall prepare a schedule of estimated assessments on land within the area that will be benefited by a proposed improvement. The board shall include in the schedule the name and address of each landowner whose parcel of land will be benefited by the proposed improvement and a description of each landowner's parcel. The board shall obtain the names and addresses from the tax duplicates of the county. The board shall obtain the descriptions from the county recorder's office. For purposes of the description the county recorder shall not require a metes and bounds survey.

(B) In determining the estimated assessment on a parcel of land, the board or its designee shall do both of the following:

(1) Use the information compiled in accordance with sections 940.24 to 940.26 of the Revised Code;

(2) Consider, and incorporate when applicable, the following factors in the calculations:

(a) Acreage of the parcel;

(b) Volume of water produced by the parcel;

(c) Distance of the parcel from the proposed improvement;

(d) Percentage of the proposed improvement to be used by the parcel;

(e) The construction of works that are determined to solely benefit the particular parcel;

(f) Soil types of the parcel;

(g) The county auditor's land value or current agricultural use value, if applicable, of the parcel;

(h) Existing drainage infrastructure that can be incorporated into the proposed improvement and associated cost savings;

(i) Any other factors pertinent to the proposed improvement and the watershed that will be affected by the proposed improvement;

(j) Any benefits as defined in section 6131.01 of the Revised Code.

(C) Unless the board determines for good cause that a lower amount is appropriate, the board shall not establish an estimated assessment for a parcel of land in an amount less than twenty-five dollars, including the cost of preparing and mailing the notice required under section 940.32 of the Revised Code. If a dwelling is located on a lot that comprises two or more contiguous parcels of land, the board may establish an estimated assessment of not less than twenty-five dollars for all of the parcels, including the cost of preparing and mailing the notice required under section 940.32 of the Revised Code.

(D) The board shall ensure that the total of the estimated assessments, including the total estimated assessments allocated to public corporations and the state, is not greater than the estimated cost of the proposed improvement.

Section 940.28 | Petition and information to be submitted to county commissioners.
 

After a board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district completes the schedule of estimated assessments, the board shall submit the petition, preliminary report, surveys, plans, specifications, schedule of damages, cost estimates, estimated assessments, and any other information obtained or prepared for the petition to the board of county commissioners of the county in which the proposed improvement is to be located.

Section 940.29 | Scheduling and notice of hearing on proposed improvement.
 

(A) Upon receiving the information submitted by a board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district under section 940.28 of the Revised Code, the board of county commissioners shall establish the date, time, and location of a hearing regarding the proposed improvement.

(B) At least twenty-one days prior to the date established for the hearing, the clerk of the board of county commissioners shall send a written notice of the hearing by certified mail to all landowners that are adjacent to the proposed improvement. The clerk shall send such notice by certified or first class mail to all other landowners within the area to be benefited by the proposed improvement, the board of supervisors of the applicable soil and water conservation district, and the county engineer. The clerk shall include all of the following in the notice:

(1) The date, time, and location of the hearing;

(2) A description of any easement on the landowner's property that is necessary for purposes of the improvement;

(3) A landowner's estimated assessment;

(4) A statement that a landowner may file comments on the proposed improvement and exceptions to the estimated assessment in writing before the hearing or in person at the hearing;

(5) The address at which to submit written comments on the proposed improvement and exceptions to the estimated assessment.

(C) The clerk shall include printed words in plain view on the envelope containing the notice that read "Legal Notice of Proposed Drainage Improvement."

Section 940.30 | County commissioners hearing on proposed improvement.
 

(A) On the date established for the hearing, the board of county commissioners shall conduct the hearing by doing both of the following:

(1) Presenting the project design, construction plans, schedule of damages, cost estimates, and estimated assessments for the proposed improvement as submitted by the board of supervisors of the applicable soil and water conservation district;

(2) Hear any comments offered by any landowner regarding the estimated assessments and proposed improvement.

(B) If necessary, the board of county commissioners may adjourn and continue the hearing on subsequent days as may be reasonable to consider additional information about the proposed improvement, make changes that will better accomplish the purpose and object of the proposed improvement, or allow all interested landowners to have an opportunity to comment on the proposed improvement.

Section 940.31 | Approval or disapproval of construction of improvement.
 

(A) At the conclusion of the hearing conducted under section 940.30 of the Revised Code, the board of county commissioners shall vote to approve or dismiss the petition.

(B) The board may approve the petition if the board is reasonably certain that:

(1) The benefits of the proposed improvement outweigh the costs.

(2) The proposed improvement is necessary.

(3) The proposed improvement will be conducive to the public welfare.

(4) The proposed route and mode of construction of the improvement will improve water management and development in the county in which the district is located to the advantage of lands located in it.

(5) The proposed improvement will aid lands in the area by promoting the economic, environmental, or social development of the area.

(C) When, in the opinion of the board of county commissioners, it is necessary for the board to acquire real property or a right-of-way or other easement for an improvement project under this chapter, the board may make the acquisition through purchase or voluntary transfer, or the board may appropriate the real property or right-of-way or other easement in accordance with sections 163.01 to 163.62 of the Revised Code.

(D) If the board approves a petition for an improvement, the county engineer shall file with the county recorder all of the following:

(1) A property plat showing the landowners of record and parcel numbers along the improvement ;

(2) The location of the improvement ;

(3) The width of any permanent easement that is necessary for maintenance of the improvement granted in section 6137.12 of the Revised Code ;

(4) An affidavit listing the landowners of record, complete property descriptions, and parcel numbers subject to the permanent easement. The county engineer shall note the property plat in the affidavit.

The county engineer shall include the permanent easement in the county's geographic information systems or other mapping system, if available.

In the case of an improvement that is an open ditch, provisions that govern the permanent easement for maintenance of the ditch that are established in section 6137.12 of the Revised Code apply.

(E) A board of county commissioners shall follow competitive bidding requirements in sections 307.86 to 307.91 of the Revised Code in constructing an improvement. However, the board may designate the board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district as the contracting agency. The board of supervisors shall follow division (H) of section 940.06 of the Revised Code. If the improvement is being undertaken through the joint efforts and cooperation of the board of county commissioners or board of supervisors and another state or federal agency, and if the state or federal regulations or procedures are in conflict with those sections with respect to the procedures for the preparing of contracts, the issuing of bids, the making of awards, and generally the administering of the contracts, the board of county commissioners or board of supervisors may adopt the state or federal regulations or procedures in those areas where conflict exists and proceed with the improvement in accordance with the requirements of the state or federal regulations or procedures.

(F) If a board of county commissioners does not approve a petition for a proposed improvement, the applicable board of supervisors may revise the proposed improvement and submit the revision to the board of county commissioners for reconsideration of the petition.

Section 940.32 | Procedure for assessments.
 

(A) If the board of county commissioners approves a petition under section 940.31 of the Revised Code, the board shall adopt a resolution levying upon the property within the area to be benefited by an improvement a uniform or varied assessment rate as necessary to pay the cost of construction of the improvement not otherwise funded and to repay advances made for purposes of the improvement from the fund created by section 940.16 of the Revised Code. In adopting the resolution, the board shall take into consideration the estimated assessments prepared by the board of supervisors of the soil and water conservation district under section 940.27 of the Revised Code.

(B) The board of county commissioners shall give notice by first class mail to every public and private property owner whose property is subject to assessment, at the tax mailing or other known address of the owner. The notice shall contain all of the following:

(1) A statement of the amount to be assessed against the property of the addressee;

(2) A description of the method used to determine the necessity for and the amount of the proposed assessment;

(3) A description of any easement on the property that is necessary for purposes of the improvement;

(4) A statement that an owner may file written exceptions to the amount of the assessments with the clerk of the board of county commissioners within thirty days of the date of the notice.

(C) If the residence of any owner cannot be ascertained, or if any mailed notice is returned undelivered, the board shall publish the notice to all such owners in a newspaper of general circulation within the area to be benefited by the improvement, once each week for three weeks or as provided in section 7.16 of the Revised Code. The notice shall include the information contained in the mailed notice.

(D) If an owner files an exception to the estimated assessment, the board, within thirty days of the date of the filing, shall establish a date and time for hearing the exception to the estimated assessments. The board may hear each owner's exception in an individual hearing or hear all exceptions in a single hearing. Not less than fourteen days prior to the hearing date, the clerk of the board shall notify each owner who filed an exception of the date and time of the owner's exception hearing. Upon hearing the objector's exceptions, the board may adopt a resolution amending and approving the final schedule of estimated assessments and shall enter it in the journal.

If the board amends the final schedule of estimated assessments after hearing exceptions, the clerk of the board shall send by certified or first class mail a written notice of the revised final schedule of estimated assessments to all owners within the area to be benefited by the improvement. The notice shall contain both of the following:

(1) The amount of the final estimated assessment for the owner's property;

(2) A statement that an owner may appeal the final estimated assessment to the applicable court of common pleas pursuant to section 940.38 of the Revised Code within twenty-one days of the notice of final estimated assessment.

(E) The board shall certify the schedule of final estimated assessments to the county auditor, who shall certify the assessments to the county treasurer. The collection of the assessments shall be made in accordance with Chapter 323. of the Revised Code.

(F) The county treasurer shall deposit the proceeds of the assessment in the fund designated by the board and shall report to the county auditor the amount of money from the assessment that is collected by the treasurer. Moneys shall be expended from the fund for purposes of the improvement.

(G) Any moneys collected in excess of the amount needed for construction of the improvement and the subsequent first year's maintenance may be maintained in a fund to be used for maintenance of the improvement. In any year subsequent to a year in which an assessment for construction of an improvement levied under this section has been collected, and upon determination by the board of county commissioners that funds are not otherwise available for maintenance or repair of the improvement, the board shall levy on the property within the area to be benefited by the improvement an assessment for maintenance at a uniform percentage of all construction costs based upon the assessment schedule used in determining the construction assessment. The assessment is not subject to the provisions concerning notice and petition contained in this section. An assessment for maintenance shall not be levied in any year in which the unencumbered balance of funds available for maintenance of the improvement exceeds twenty per cent of the cost of construction of the improvement, except that the board may adjust the level of assessment within the twenty per cent limitation, or suspend temporarily the levying of an assessment, for maintenance purposes as maintenance funds are needed.

(H) For the purpose of levying an assessment for maintenance of an improvement, a board may use the procedures established in Chapter 6137. of the Revised Code regarding maintenance of improvements as defined in section 6131.01 of the Revised Code in lieu of using the procedures established under this section.

(J) The board of county commissioners may issue bonds and notes as authorized by section 131.23 or 133.17 of the Revised Code.

Section 940.33 | Tax levy resolution.
 

(A) A board of county commissioners may declare by resolution that it is necessary to levy a tax upon the property within the area to be benefited by an improvement in order to pay the costs of the improvement not otherwise funded.

The resolution shall specify all of the following:

(1) The rate that it is necessary to levy;

(2) The purpose of the tax levy;

(3) The number of years during which the increase is in effect, which may include the current year.

(B) A copy of the resolution shall be certified to the board of elections for the county not less than ninety days before the general election in any year and the board shall submit the proposal to the electors within the area to be benefited by an improvement at the succeeding November election in accordance with section 5705.25 of the Revised Code. For purposes of that section, the subdivision is the area to be benefited by an improvement.

(C) If the per cent required for approval of a levy as set forth in section 5705.26 of the Revised Code vote in favor thereof, the board of county commissioners may levy a tax within the area to be benefited by an improvement, outside the ten-mill limitation, during the period and for the purpose stated in the resolution, or at any less rate or for any less number of years.

(D) The board may issue bonds and notes in anticipation of the collection of taxes levied under this section, and notes in anticipation of the issuance of bonds.

Section 940.34 | Joint board of supervisors.
 

(A) Upon receiving a petition pursuant to section 940.19 of the Revised Code for a proposed improvement that would be located in two or more adjoining soil and water conservation districts, the board of supervisors of the adjoining districts shall, with approval of the Ohio soil and water conservation commission, create a joint board of supervisors. Each district shall have the same number of supervisors on the joint board. However, if the membership of the joint board would be an even number, an additional supervisor from the lead county shall be designated.

(B) A joint board of supervisors shall exercise the same powers, execute the same duties, and follow the same procedures in connection with an improvement under this chapter as the board of supervisors of a single soil and water conservation district with the following conditions:

(1) For purposes of making a preliminary determination to accept or reject a petition in accordance with section 940.19 of the Revised Code, the joint board shall make the determination within sixty days of the approval of the creation of the joint board.

(2) For purposes of a petition, the joint board shall do both of the following:

(a) Send the petition and accompanying information to the board of county commissioners of the lead county; and

(b) Send notification of the need for the creation of a joint board of county commissioners under section 940.35 of the Revised Code to the board of county commissioners of each county in the area to be benefited by the proposed improvement.

(C) Upon the creation of a joint board of supervisors, the elected officials in the lead county, including the engineer, recorder, auditor, prosecutor, treasurer, judges, and clerk of the board of county commissioners, shall serve as the administrative officers for the joint board of supervisors.

Section 940.35 | Joint board of county commissioners.
 

(A) If a proposed improvement would affect more than one county, the board of county commissioners from each of the counties that would be affected by the proposed improvement shall meet on a date fixed by the clerk of the board of county commissioners of the lead county. The boards shall meet in the lead county to organize a joint board of county commissioners and elect a president, which shall be the first order of business at the hearing.

(B) A joint board of county commissioners shall exercise the same powers, execute the same duties, and follow the same procedures in connection with an improvement under this chapter as the board of county commissioners of a single county.

(C) The clerk of the board of county commissioners of the lead county shall do all of the following:

(1) Act as clerk and administrator of the joint board;

(2) Enter the findings of the joint board in the journal of the board of county commissioners of the lead county;

(3) Make the final record of the improvement in the lead county;

(4) Provide copies of all proceedings to the clerks of the boards of all affected counties.

(D) A majority of the county commissioners constituting the joint board shall constitute a quorum. All decisions of the joint board shall be made by a majority vote of the quorum present at a meeting of the joint board.

(E) The director of natural resources shall be an ex officio member of the joint board and may participate, in person or through a designated representative, in deliberations and proceedings of the joint board. The director shall have no vote on any proceedings of the joint board except in the case of a tie for or against an improvement. If the director or the director's designee is not present at the proceeding, the director shall review the proceedings and cast the deciding vote within thirty days of the proceeding. A failure to cast a vote for or against the improvement within thirty days constitutes an affirmative vote for the improvement. The clerk shall record the final resolution of the tie.

(F) Upon the creation of a joint board of county commissioners, the elected officials in the lead county, including the engineer, recorder, auditor, prosecutor, treasurer, judges, and clerk of the board of county commissioners, shall serve as the administrative officers for the joint board of county commissioners.

Section 940.36 | Lead county responsibilities.
 

(A) The auditor of the lead county shall certify to the auditor of the other counties a schedule of any taxes or assessments to be levied for the improvement, and the auditor of such other county immediately shall place such tax or assessment upon the duplicates. Taxes or assessments so certified for collection to an auditor of another county are a lien on the land within such county from the date such certificate is received by the auditor of such other county.

(B) The treasurer of each county shall collect any taxes or assessments levied for the improvement pursuant to the orders made in the proceedings of the joint board of county commissioners, and such taxes or assessments when collected shall be paid to the treasurer for the joint board.

(C) The auditor and treasurer of the lead county shall receive and account for any taxes or assessments levied for the improvement in the same manner as they would for taxes or assessments collected within their county. The treasurer and auditor of the lead county with their bondspersons are liable on their official bonds for any misappropriation of such funds. All warrants for the payment of costs in connection with the improvement shall be drawn by the auditor of the lead county, on the treasurer of the lead county, payable out of the fund designated by the joint board to receive moneys for the improvement.

Section 940.37 | Maintenance of improvements.
 

The board of county commissioners, or, if a joint board of county commissioners has been created under section 940.35 of the Revised Code, the joint board, shall maintain the improvements constructed under this chapter. For that purpose, the board of county commissioners or joint board may use procedures and requirements established in Chapter 6137. of the Revised Code and may contract with or authorize the board of supervisors or joint board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district to perform maintenance of such works of improvement.

Section 940.38 | Appeals.
 

Any affected landowner may appeal to the appropriate court of common pleas any action or determination of a board of supervisors, joint board of supervisors, board of county commissioners, or joint board of county commissioners under this chapter. The affected landowner shall make the appeal within thirty days of the date of the action or determination. The appeal may be based on, but is not limited to, any of the following questions:

(A) Is the improvement necessary?

(B) Will the improvement be conducive to the public welfare?

(C) Is the cost of the improvement greater than the benefits conferred?

(D) Is the route, termini, or mode of construction the best to accomplish the purpose of the improvement?

(E) Are the assessments levied according to benefits?

(F) Is the award for compensation or damages just?

Section 940.39 | Videoconferencing and teleconferencing of meetings.
 

(A) For purposes of this section, references to a "board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district" or a "board" includes a joint board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district.

(B) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a board of supervisors of a soil and water conservation district, when practicable, may conduct meetings by video conference or, if video conference is not available, by teleconference. The board of supervisors shall make provisions for public attendance at any location involved in such a meeting. The board shall establish the board's main office or board room as the primary meeting location for the video conference or teleconference. The conference shall be held at that location in an open meeting at which the public is allowed to attend.

(C) Before convening a meeting of a board of supervisors by video conference or by teleconference, designated staff shall send, via electronic mail, facsimile, or United States postal service, a copy of meeting-related documents to each member of the board.

(D) The minutes of each drainage improvement meeting shall specify who was attending by teleconference, who was attending by video conference, and who was physically present. Any vote taken in a meeting held by teleconference that is not unanimous shall be recorded as a roll call vote.

(E) Nothing in section 121.22 of the Revised Code prohibits a board of supervisors from conducting a meeting in a manner authorized by this section.

Section 940.41 | Statewide watershed planning and management program; watershed regions.
 

(A) As used in this section:

(1) "Nine-element plan" means a strategic implementation plan that a political subdivision, organization, or individual engaged in water quality improvements may utilize to obtain funding through the federal "Clean Water Act," 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq., or the great lakes restoration initiative for projects to address nonpoint source pollution.

(2) "Organization" means a public or private entity that is engaged in water quality improvement activities.

(3) "Political subdivision" means a county, township, municipal corporation, or any other body corporate and politic that is responsible for government activities in a geographic area smaller than that of the state.

(B)(1) There is hereby created a statewide watershed planning and management program for the improvement and protection of the state's watersheds to be administered by the director of agriculture.

(2) Under the program, the director shall appoint at least one watershed planning and management coordinator in each watershed region categorized under division (D) of this section to coordinate watershed planning in the watershed. A coordinator shall have experience or education related to water quality improvement or watershed planning and management.

(C) A watershed planning and management coordinator shall do all of the following in the watershed region in which the coordinator is appointed:

(1) Assist each soil and water conservation district to identify sources and areas of water quality impairment, including total phosphorous, dissolved reactive phosphorous, and nitrogen nutrient loading. A coordinator also may assist any political subdivision or organization in the watershed region to address water quality impairment.

(2) Engage in watershed planning, restoration, protection, and management activities, including assisting a political subdivision or organization in the watershed region in developing and formulating a nine-element plan or its equivalent;

(3) Collaborate with state agencies engaged in water quality activities;

(4) Provide an annual report to the director about water quality.

(D) The director shall categorize watersheds in the state, identified by the specified United States geological survey six-digit hydrologic unit codes, into the following watershed regions:

(1) Region One: Western Lake Erie basin watershed, hydrologic unit code 041000;

(2) Region Two: Central Lake Erie basin watershed, hydrologic unit code 041100, and Conneaut creek watershed, hydrologic unit code 041201;

(3) Region Three: Wabash river basin watershed, hydrologic unit code 051200; Great Miami river watershed, hydrologic unit code 050800; and Little Miami river watershed, hydrologic unit code 050902;

(4) Region Four: Scioto river watershed, hydrologic unit code 050600;

(5) Region Five: Muskingum river watershed, hydrologic unit code 050400;

(6) Region Six: Mahoning river watershed, hydrologic unit code 050301;

(7) Region Seven: Hocking river and Ohio river tributaries watershed, hydrologic unit code 050302, and raccoon creek watershed, hydrologic unit code 050901.

(E) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prevent or limit a watershed planning and management coordinator from providing assistance for projects or activities that have been determined to improve water quality impaired from point sources of phosphorus, dissolved reactive phosphorus, and nitrogen nutrients.

Section 940.42 | Data and records.
 

(A) Data or records of a person's agricultural operations, conservation or water quality improvement practices, or proposed utilization of such practices collected or maintained by the department of agriculture, a soil or water conservation district, an institution of higher education, as defined in section 3345.12 of the Revised Code, or any other state agency are not a public record subject to disclosure under section 149.43 of the Revised Code.

(B) The department may share such data or records with state agencies and institutions of higher education, as defined in section 3345.12 of the Revised Code, for the purpose of water quality research if all of the following apply:

(1) The data or records of conservation or water quality improvement practices are aggregated.

(2) The aggregated data or records do not include any information that identifies an individual.

(3) The aggregated data or records include a description of the conservation or water quality improvement practices.

(4) The aggregated data or records identify the watershed, by the watershed's hydrologic unit code, where the conservation or water quality improvement practices are being or have been utilized.

Section 940.43 | Intent of General Assembly.
 

It is the intent of the general assembly to collaborate with organizations representing agriculture, conservation, and the environment and institutions of higher education engaged in water quality research to establish a certification program for farmers that utilize practices designed to minimize impacts to water quality. The director of agriculture shall undertake all actions necessary to ensure that assistance and available funding are provided for farmers who participate in the certification program.