Introduction to Indiana Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs) 


Purpose of SWCDs 
The purpose of a Soil and Water Conservation District, or SWCD (also referred to simply as a district), is to: 
1. provide information about soil, water and related natural resource conservation; 
2. identify and prioritize local soil and water resource concerns; and 
3. connect land users to sources of educational, technical and financial assistance, to implement conservation practices and technologies. 

SWCD Powers and Authorities 
As a governmental subdivision of the State of Indiana and a public body (corporate and politic), Soil and Water Conservation Districts exercise public powers. Following is a summary of key powers and authorities given to SWCDs and their supervisors as outlined in the Soil and Water Conservation District Act (Indiana Code 14-32): 

1. To develop comprehensive plans for the proper management of soil and water resources within the district and to publish such plans, then bring them to the attention of land occupiers within the district. 

2. To carry out soil erosion and water runoff preventive and control measures within the district (a) on land owned or controlled by the state, and (b) on any other land as requested by the occupier of that land or who have the necessary rights or interests in such lands. 

3. To cooperate or enter into agreements with and furnish financial or other aid to any federal, state, or other agency or any occupier of lands within the district to carry on conservation operations, subject to such conditions as the supervisors deem necessary. 

4. To obtain options upon and acquire by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, grant, bequest, device, or otherwise, any real or personal property or rights or interests in property; to maintain, administer, and improve the properties acquired; to receive income from the properties and expend such income in carrying out the District Act; and to sell, lease or otherwise dispose of property or interests in property in furtherance of the District Act. 

5. To make available to land occupiers within the district (on such terms that the district prescribes) agricultural and engineering machinery and equipment, fertilizer, seeds, seedlings, other material or equipment, and services from the district that will assist such land occupiers to conserve the soil and water resources. 

6. To accept donations, gifts, and contributions in money, services, materials or otherwise from the United States; and to use or expend such contributions in carrying on district operations. 

7. To require an occupier of lands not owned or controlled by the state (as a condition to extending benefits under the District Act) to (a) make contributions of money, services, materials, or otherwise to any operations conferring such benefits, and/or (b) enter into agreements or covenants regarding the use and treatment of the lands that will prevent or control soil erosion, achieve water conservation and water quality protection, and reduce flooding. 

8. To cooperate with state government in conducting surveys, investigations, and research within the district relating to soil and water conservation, erosion control, water quality protection, and flood prevention. Conduct demonstration projects on (a) land owned or controlled by the state, with the consent and cooperation of the agency administering and having jurisdiction; and (b) on any other land upon obtaining the consent of the occupier of the land or the necessary rights or interests in the lands. 

9. To serve as management agency for the erosion and sediment portion of Public Law 92-500, Section 208, on nonpoint source pollution and for other erosion and sediment reduction programs that affect water quality in each county. 

11. To inspect every landfill located within the district at least two times a year with regard to sediment control and erosion; and to prepare a written report on the results of each inspection for the executive of the county, the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and the director of the ISDA, Division of Soil Conservation. 

Some of the other duties of the Division, as outlined in the Indiana Soil and Water Conservation District Act include: 

1. Perform all administrative duties required by the rules of the State Soil Conservation Board. 
2. Provide adult soil and water conservation education. 
3. Provide nonagricultural soils interpretive and erosion control expertise on a regional basis. 
4. Administer the Clean Water Indiana Program in cooperation with conservation districts. 
5. Assist other federal, state, and local entities in encouraging and monitoring compliance with those aspects of their programs that are related to erosion/sediment reduction. 
6. Provide professional assistance to districts in conservation needs assessments, program development and evaluation.