Section 9-10B-5

Functions and duties of Office of Water Resources.

The general functions and duties of the Office of Water Resources shall be as follows:

(1) To develop long-term strategic plans for the use of the waters of the state by conducting and participating in water resource studies and by administering the laws established by this chapter and regulations promulgated hereunder;

(2) Acting through the commission, to adopt and promulgate rules, regulations, and standards for the purposes of this chapter, and to develop policy for the state regarding the waters of the state;

(3) To implement quantitative water resource programs and projects for the coordination, conservation, development, management, use, and understanding of the waters of the state;

(4) To serve as a repository for data regarding the waters of the state;

(5) To, at its discretion, study, analyze, and evaluate in coordination with, or with the assistance of, other agencies of the state, the federal government, any other state, or any person the uses of the waters of the state, including, without limitation, the diversion, withdrawal, or consumption of such waters, and to prepare comprehensive plans, programs, and policies to encourage or require, where expressly authorized by this chapter, the efficient use of the waters of the state;

(6) To participate on behalf of the state in discussions between or among the state, any federal officer, department, or agency, any other state, or any person concerning the waters of the state; floods, droughts, and other hydrologic events involving the waters of the state; and water conservation programs;

(7) To enter into agreements or contracts, where appropriate, with other agencies of this state, the federal government, local governments, or any person in order to accomplish the purposes of this chapter;

(8) To issue, modify, suspend, or revoke orders, citations, or notices of violation regarding the diversion, withdrawal, or consumption of the waters of the state;

(9) To hold hearings relating to any of the provisions of this chapter or the administration thereof;

(10) To apply for, accept, and disburse advances, loans, grants, contributions, and any other form of assistance from the federal government, the state or other public body, or from any sources, public or private, for the purposes of this chapter, and enter into and carry out contracts or agreements in connection therewith, and include in any contract for financial assistance with the federal government such conditions imposed pursuant to federal laws as it may deem reasonable and appropriate and which are not inconsistent with the purposes of this chapter;

(11) To employ such professional, technical, clerical, and other staff, including attorneys and special counsel, and such consultants as are necessary to accomplish the objectives of this chapter;

(12) To monitor, coordinate, and manage the waters of the state as provided in this chapter. The Office of Water Resources shall make every effort to accept copies of reports submitted pursuant to rules or regulations of the federal government or another agency of the state;

(13) To sponsor, encourage, and facilitate plans, projects, policies, and programs for the conservation, coordination, protection, development, and management of the waters of the state;

(14) To, at its discretion, undertake or participate in studies, surveys, analyses, or investigations of water resources to include, but not limited to, the following: single, multi-purpose, comprehensive, local, county, regional, state, multi-state, national, federal, interstate, intrastate, ground, subsurface, recharge area, surface, watershed, drainage area, sub-basin, basin, stream, corridor, river, reservoir, impoundment, navigation, potable water, water supply, conservation, flood, drought, recreation, hydropower, water availability, water demand, and other water resource studies; provided, however, that the Office of Water Resources' failure to undertake or participate in any such studies, surveys, analyses, or investigations shall not affect the validity thereof.

(15) To conduct a program of education and public enlightenment with respect to the waters of the state;

(16) To make an annual report to the Governor and the presiding officers of the House and Senate through the department concerning the activities and accomplishments of the Office of Water Resources for the preceding fiscal year;

(17) To enforce all provisions of this chapter and to file legal actions in the name of the Office of Water Resources and to prosecute, defend, or settle actions brought by or against the Office of Water Resources or its agents. The Attorney General shall represent the Office of Water Resources in any and all legal actions brought by the Office of Water Resources to enforce any provision of this chapter. Nothing herein shall be construed or interpreted to impair the authority of the Attorney General to enforce independently the provisions of this chapter;

(18) In addition to any other remedies provided by law, to recover in a civil action from any person violating any provision of this chapter, or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder, other than such provisions or rules or regulations subject to the enforcement of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or from any person who fails to submit a declaration of beneficial use or makes a false statement in a declaration of beneficial use the actual costs incurred by the Office of Water Resources to protect the waters of the state from such violation. Such action shall be filed in the circuit court of the county where the defendant resides or does business, or in which the violation occurs or will occur;

(19) After the expiration of one year from February 23, 1993, to issue an order assessing a civil penalty against any person in violation of a. any provision of this chapter or b. any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder, other than such provisions or rules or regulations subject to the enforcement of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or any person who fails to submit a declaration of beneficial use or makes a false statement in a declaration of beneficial use; provided, however, that no such order shall be issued to a person if a civil action to recover a penalty for such violation has been commenced against such person. Any order issued under this section shall set forth findings of fact relied upon by the Office of Water Resources in determining the alleged violation and the amount of the civil penalty and may be served in the manner provided for service of process in the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. Where the Office of Water Resources has issued an order finding that a violation has occurred and assessing a civil penalty, the person subject thereto shall pay the penalty in full within 30 days of receipt of the order unless such person files a request for a hearing in accordance with the rules and regulations promulgated hereunder. No order shall be issued under this subsection until the division chief or his designated representative has offered to meet with such person concerning the alleged violations and penalties. It is the intent of the Legislature that the director or division chief or their representatives shall attempt in good faith to reach a solution of alleged violations before any legal action is commenced. Civil penalties assessed by the Office of Water Resources and not paid may be recovered in a civil action brought by the Office of Water Resources in the circuit court of the county in which such person resides or does business. Any civil penalty assessed or recovered hereunder shall not exceed $1,000 for each violation. Each day such violation continues shall constitute a separate violation for purposes of this chapter. In no event shall a civil penalty assessed hereunder exceed $25,000 in any calendar year. In determining the amount of any penalty, the Office of Water Resources shall take into account the seriousness of the violation, the standard of care manifested by such person, any economic benefit accruing to such person as a result of the violation, the nature, extent, and degree of success of such person's efforts to minimize or mitigate the effects of such violation on the waters of the state, such person's history of previous violations, and the ability of such person to pay the penalty;

(20) To request such assistance from any other agency of this state as may be reasonable and necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter. All state agencies, departments, institutions, and political subdivisions are hereby empowered and authorized to make available to the Office of Water Resources such reasonable assistance and information as the office may request in carrying out the intentions and purposes of this chapter;

(21) To recommend to the Legislature such legislation as may be needed to coordinate, protect, conserve, develop, and manage the waters of the state; and

(22) To perform any other duty or take any other action necessary for the implementation and enforcement of this chapter.

(Acts 1993, No. 93-44, p. 78, §6.)