EID Board Powers and Governance Summary
The Irrigation Districts Act , RSA 2000, c. l-11 (the ”Act”) provides for the formation, governance and operation of the Eastern Irrigation District (the “EID”) in order that the management and delivery of water within the district occurs in an efficient manner that provides for the needs of its users. The purposes of the EID include conveying and delivering water in accordance with the Act, diverting and using water in accordance with the terms of its water licenses, constructing, operating and maintaining its irrigation works, and maintaining and promoting the economic viability of the district.
In carrying out its purposes, an irrigation district has the capacity and, subject to the Act and the regulations and bylaws created under the Act, the rights, powers and privileges of a natural person.
The Minister of Agriculture and Forestry has ministerial powers within the Act to ensure an irrigation district has a board of directors. Under the Act, a board of directors is initially appointed by the Minister and then is authorized to govern an irrigation district by enacting bylaws, passing resolutions and adopting policies. The Minister can, in certain circumstances, exercise powers to fill vacancies on a board as well as dismiss and replace a board. Section 176 of the Act also provides a list of matters for which the Minister may make regulations under the Act, which includes establishing land classification standards, prescribing forms for purposes of the Act and conducting and holding plebiscites.
The Minister also appoints the Irrigation Council whose powers and duties include: making recommendations to the Minister; monitoring the operations and financial performance of irrigation districts; granting approval for an irrigation district to expend money under a cost-sharing agreement; and acting as an appellate body for matters specified in the Act.
Parts 2 and 3 of the Act provide for the initial appointment of an irrigation district board of directors (a “Board”), and additional matters of Board governance which includes provisions for determining the number of members to sit on a Board, eligibility of members to sit on a Board, removal and resignation of Board members, holding of annual meetings, and elections for members wishing to sit on a Board.
The Act also imposes mandatory requirements for, and creates discretionary powers in favor of, a Board to create bylaws relating to its governance as well as other commercial and operational matters. A bylaw is established by a Board in accordance with the powers granted or delegated to it under the Act. Bylaws are essentially the statutory rules created by a Board in accordance with the powers granted or delegated to it under the Act. For certain matters, such as transferring a water license or changing the expansion limit, the Board must obtain approval of the irrigators by plebiscite.
In addition to various sections throughout the Act which establish a Board and provide powers in favor of the Board to make bylaws, there is a broad list of mandatory and discretionary type Board bylaws located at section 177 of the Act. Some of the mandatory bylaws deal with establishing rates for parcels with irrigation acres, governing quorum and voting procedures at Board meetings, prescribing election dates and governing the elections of officers of the Board. Some of the bylaws which allow the EID Board to exercise discretionary powers include governing the delivery and distribution of water to users, establishing various charges, surcharges and fees, establishing a fiscal year, authorizing the borrowing of money, governing the appointment of Board committees, governing the duties of a chair of the Board, and governing the duties and powers of a district manager. Section 177 also provides any bylaws which are to be passed must be given 3 readings before its final passing.
From time to time the EID Board may also provide direction to the district manager for EID management and staff to research, evaluate and prepare information on policies and procedures for Board consideration and approval prior to such policies and procedures (the “Policies”) being implemented by management and staff. These Policies not only provide a framework and guidance for management and staff in performing their operational and administrative responsibilities but also provide information to irrigators, water users, grazing association members and other stakeholders regarding applicable criteria and factors relating to EID operations and applications submitted for EID consideration.