Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. The inhabitants of the town of Oak Bluffs registered to vote in said town and residing within the territorial limits of said town shall constitute a water District and are hereby made a body politic and corporate by the name of the Oak Bluffs Water District, hereinafter called the District, for the purpose of supplying themselves with water for the extinguishment of fires and for domestic and other purposes, with power to lay water mains, to establish wells, fountains and hydrants and to relocate and discontinue the same, to regulate the use of such water and to fix and collect rates to be paid therefor, and for the purposes of assessing and raising taxes as provided herein for the payment of such services, and for defraying the necessary expenses of carrying on the business of the District, with all the powers and privileges and subject to the limitations provided for in the General Laws now or hereafter in force relating to such districts, except as otherwise provided herein. The District shall also have for its purpose the construction, operation and financing of such water supply and treatment works and facilities as may be necessary to obtain and deliver pure and healthful drinking water. The District shall have like powers to treat sewage or septage if the District shall elect to also become a sanitary district under the provisions of section two. For either or both of these purposes, the District shall seek, obtain and accept any available capital and operating funds from the commonwealth or the federal government or any authority or entity created by either of said governments. The District shall have power to prosecute and defend all actions relating to its property and affairs and shall be deemed a public employer for purposes of chapter two hundred and fifty-eight of the General Laws.
SECTION 2. For the aforesaid purposes the District, acting by and through its board of water commissioners hereinafter provided for may:-
(a) contract with any municipality, acting through its water department, or with any water company, or with any water district for the purchase or sale of whatever water may be required, authority to furnish the same being hereby granted, and may enter into such other contracts as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act;
(b) supply water to persons outside of the town of Oak Bluffs with the permission of any water department or any water district existing in a town outside of the district or in the absence of any such water department or district, with the permission of the board of selectmen of such town; provided, however, that the district meeting must authorize each extension of waterworks outside the district;
(c) take by eminent domain under the provisions of chapter seventy-nine or chapter eighty A of the General Laws, or acquire, by lease, purchase or otherwise, and hold, the waters, or any portion thereof, of any pond, spring or stream, or of any ground sources of water supply by means of driven, artesian or other wells, within the territorial limits of the town of Oak Bluffs not already appropriated for the purposes of a public water supply by another governmental body, and the water and flowage rights connected with any such water sources; may take as aforesaid, or acquire by purchase or otherwise, and hold, all lands, rights of way and other easements necessary for collecting, storing, holding, purifying and preserving the purity of the water and for conveying the same to any part of the District and for carrying out the purposes of the District; provided, however, that no source of water supply or lands necessary for preserving the quality of such water shall be so taken or used without first obtaining the advice and approval of the department of environmental protection, and that the location and arrangement of all dams, reservoirs, springs, wells, pumping, purification and filtration plants and such other waterworks as may be necessary in carrying out the provisions of this act shall be subject to the approval of said department;
(d) construct and maintain on the lands acquired and held under this act proper dams, wells, springs, reservoirs, standpipes, tanks, pumping plants, buildings, fixtures and other structures, including the establishment and maintenance of filter beds and purification works or systems, and may make excavations, procure and operate machinery and provide such other means and appliances, and do such other things as may be necessary for the establishment and maintenance of complete and effective waterworks; and for that purpose may construct pipe lines, wells and reservoirs, and establish pumping works, and may construct, lay, acquire and maintain aqueducts, conduits, pipes and other works and along such ways, in said town, in such manner as not unnecessarily to obstruct the same;
(e) for the purpose of constructing, laying, maintaining, operating and repairing such aqueducts, conduits, pipes and other works, and for all other purposes of this act, dig up or raise and embank any such lands, highways or other ways in such manner as to cause the least hindrance to public travel on such way; provided, however, that the manner in which all things are done upon any such way shall be subject to the direction of the board of selectmen of the town in which such lands, highways or other ways are located;
(f) enter upon any lands for the purpose of making surveys, test wells or pits and borings, or any of them, and may take by eminent domain or otherwise acquire the right to occupy temporarily any lands necessary for the construction of any work or for any other purpose authorized by this act;
(g) from time to time sell such real property of the District as shall, in the opinion of its board of water commissioners hereinafter provided for, be no longer useful in the conduct of the affairs of the District; provided, however, that the district meeting has authorized each such sale;
(h) act as a wastewater treatment and water pollution abatement district, to be known as the Oak Bluffs Sanitary District, for the purpose of receiving, collecting, treating, neutralizing or stabilizing sewage and such industrial and other wastes as are disposed of by means of such facilities, including treatment or disposal plants, necessary common, intercepting, outfall and outlet sewers, and pumping stations integral to such facilities, with sewers, equipment, furnishings and other appurtenances connected therewith; provided, however, that said sanitary District shall only assume the powers and duties given such districts by the General Laws upon a two-thirds vote of the district voters at an annual district meeting or special meeting called for the purpose of expanding the powers and duties of the District;
(i) employ personnel and may engage architectural, engineering, accounting, management, legal, financial and environmental consulting and other professional services;
(j) bill customers of the District and collect amounts owing under such bills either directly, or through the town of Oak Bluffs, by agreement with the town; and
(k) do all things necessary, convenient or desirable for carrying out the purposes of this act or the powers expressly granted or necessarily implied by this act, including but not limited to enacting regulations reasonably necessary to accomplish the purposes of this act.
SECTION 3. Any person sustaining damages in his property by any taking under this act or any other thing done under authority thereof may recover such damages from the District under the provisions of chapter seventy-nine or chapter eighty A of the General Laws; but the right to damages for the nonexclusive taking of any water, water right or water source, or for any injury thereto, shall not vest until water is actually withdrawn or diverted under authority of this act.
SECTION 4. The District, for the purposes of paying the expenses and liabilities incurred in connection with this act, including the funding of reserves for debt service or other district expenses and in anticipation of revenue, but excluding operating and maintenance expenses, may, from time to time, borrow such sums, as may be necessary, and may issue bonds or notes therefor. Any bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act shall be in form, detail and at such rate or rates of interest as the board of water commissioners deem proper. Bonds of the District shall be authorized at a district meeting by the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the district voters then present and voting, shall be for a term of twenty years or for such greater term as may be approved by the board of water commissioners. Maturities of bonds or notes issued by the District under this act or under the General Laws, other than temporary loans, may be arranged so that for each issue, the annual combined payments of principal and interest payable in each year shall be as nearly equal as practicable in the opinion of the district treasurer, or be arranged in accordance with a schedule providing for a more rapid amortization of principal; provided, however, that the first annual debt service payment associated with an issue may be deferred to the extent permitted by section nineteen of chapter forty-four of the General Laws. Any net earnings derived from the investment of proceeds of bonds or notes of the District may be expended by the district treasurer to pay interest on bonds or notes of the District or otherwise used for the construction, equipping, operation or maintenance of the water supply system or related facilities. In addition to other security provided herein or otherwise by law, bonds or notes issued by the District may be secured by insurance or by letters or lines of credit or other credit facilities issued to the District under such terms and conditions and under such agreements, not inconsistent with this act, as the board of water commissioners determine to be in the best interest of the District. Except as otherwise provided in this act, indebtedness incurred by the District shall be subject to the applicable provisions of said chapter forty-four.
SECTION 5. The District, upon appropriate authorization by a two-thirds majority vote at a district meeting, may, with the consent of the town of Oak Bluffs acting by and through its board of selectmen, undertake financial arrangements resulting in the assumption of debt service obligations, the issuance of district bonds or other financial accommodations on behalf of said town of Oak Bluffs for all or any portion of the bond indebtedness then outstanding and relating to expenditures incurred by said town in connection with water department improvements.
SECTION 6. The District, after a two-thirds majority vote at a district meeting and acting by and through said board of water commissioners, may establish and operate a separate account classified as a Water Supply Materials "Enterprise Fund" for the purchase, storage and sale of water supply pumps, piping, appurtenances and other materials. Such account shall be maintained by the treasurer, and all receipts, revenues and funds from any source derived, from all sales and rental of the water supply materials and equipment shall be deposited in such separate account. The treasurer may invest the funds in such separate account in the manner authorized by sections forty-five and fifty-five A of chapter forty of the General Laws. Any interest earned thereon shall be credited to and become part of such separate account. The books and records for the account shall be maintained in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and in accordance with the requirements of section thirty-eight of said chapter forty.
SECTION 7. The District, acting by and through said board of water commissioners, shall, subject to the applicable provisions of law, fix just and equitable fees, prices and rates for the use of water and the extension or expansion of its waterworks and shall prescribe the time and manner of payment. Notwithstanding the foregoing, such prices and rates shall be fixed and adjusted so as to provide funds at least sufficient in each fiscal year, together with other revenues and funds of the District, if any, available therefor, to pay the full cost of operation of the District for that fiscal year, including all current expenses; all debt service on bonds or notes of the District; all costs of maintenance, repair and replacement, including the establishment of reasonable sinking funds, stabilization funds, replacement reserves and other similar funds in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, as determined by the board of water commissioners to be necessary or desirable to be funded as current expenses; and all other amounts which the District may be obligated to pay or provide for by law or contract. Such prices and rates shall be reviewed on not less than an annual basis and as necessary shall be revised. After the water system operated by the District shall have been acquired from the town of Oak Bluffs, the District, acting through said board of water commissioners, shall immediately fix the rates to be paid within the territorial limits of said town of Oak Bluffs and by any customers in other towns. If in any fiscal year a tax has been levied upon the inhabitants of the District under the provision of section eight, the board of water commissioners shall fix such prices and rates for the use of water as to raise within the shortest practicable period as determined by the board of water commissioners the amount of such tax and shall, at the end of each fiscal year thereafter until said town of Oak Bluffs shall have been reimbursed an amount equal to the amount of the taxes so paid to the District by the inhabitants of said town, pay to such town so much, if any, of the revenue of the District as is in excess of the cost of operation. If there should be a net surplus remaining at the end of any fiscal year after the payment of all costs of operation and the aforesaid reimbursements, such net surplus shall be applied to pay costs of operation for the District for the succeeding fiscal year or for capital improvements to the District's facilities or to the reduction of its indebtedness. The fiscal year of the District shall commence on July first and end on June thirtieth, or as otherwise provided in the by-laws of the District.
SECTION 8. If for any reason the revenues and available funds of the District, including revenues from prices and rates for the use of water as provided in section seven, shall be determined by the board of water commissioners not to be sufficient to pay the full cost of operation of the District, said board of water commissioners shall levy a tax upon the property of the District, and promptly thereafter the clerk of the District shall apportion the amount of said tax among the property subject to tax under this act in the town of Oak Bluffs in proportion to the assessors' valuation of said property in the town and shall furnish a certified copy of the vote imposing said tax together with said apportionment of the tax, to the assessors of said town, who shall assess said tax on the property within the District in the same manner in all respects in which town taxes are required by law to be assessed.
No estate shall be subject to any tax assessed on account of the system of water supply under this act, if, in the judgment of the board of water commissioners, after a hearing, due notice whereof shall have been given, such estate is so situated that it will receive no aid in the extinguishment of fire from said system of water supply, and if such estate is so situated that the buildings thereon, or the buildings that might be constructed thereon, could not be supplied with water from said systems in any ordinary or reasonable manner; but all other estates in the District shall be deemed to be benefited and shall be subject to such tax. A certified list of the estates exempt from taxation under the provisions of this section shall be sent by said board of water commissioners to said assessors, at the same time at which the clerk shall send a certified copy of the vote as aforesaid.
The assessments shall be committed to the respective town collectors, who shall collect said tax in the manner provided by law for the collection of town taxes, and shall deposit the proceeds thereof with the district treasurer for the use and benefit of the District. The District may collect interest on overdue taxes in the manner in which interest is authorized to be collected on town taxes, provided the board of water commissioners at the time of voting to levy the tax shall so determine and shall also fix a time when said tax is due.
SECTION 9. The management and control of all property acquired by, and the exercise of all the powers, privileges and duties conferred upon, the District pursuant to any of the provisions of this act shall be vested in and exercised by a board of water commissioners which shall be constituted as provided in section ten except where a power or duty is expressly reserved to the district voters by this act.
SECTION 10. The District shall, after the acceptance of this act, elect by ballot, either at the same meeting at which this act shall have been accepted, or thereafter, at an annual district meeting or at a special meeting called for the purpose, three persons, inhabitants of and registered voters in the town of Oak Bluffs, to hold office, one until the expiration of one year, one until the expiration of two years, and one until the expiration of three years from the day of the next succeeding annual district meeting to constitute a board of water commissioners; and at every annual district meeting following such next succeeding annual district meeting one such commissioner shall be elected by ballot for the term of three years. The date of the next annual meeting shall be fixed by by-law or by vote of the board of water commissioners, but in no event shall it be later than fifteen months subsequent to the date on which the water commissioners were first elected. The first district meeting shall be called by the board of selectmen of the town of Oak Bluffs within two months after the acceptance hereof by a town meeting of said town of Oak Bluffs. The town clerk shall cause notice of the time and place of the first district meeting to be published in a newspaper of general circulation in said town for two consecutive weeks, the second notice to appear no fewer than seven days before the meeting.
The district meeting shall annually appropriate funds for the District's purposes and may appropriate funds for any of the purposes specified for the District in this act, and for any purpose permitted to water districts by the General Laws. In the event the District assumes the powers of a wastewater treatment and water pollution abatement district, the district meeting may appropriate funds for the purposes of such districts under this act and under the General Laws. All the authority granted to said District by this act, except section four, and not otherwise specifically reserved to the district meeting, shall be vested in said board of water commissioners, who shall be subject, however, to such instructions, rules and regulations as the District may by vote impose.
At the meeting at which said water commissioners are first elected and at each annual district meeting held thereafter, the District shall elect by ballot, each for such term as it may determine, a clerk and a treasurer of the District. The treasurer shall not be a member of the board of water commissioners and shall give bond to the District in such an amount as may be approved by said board with a surety company authorized to transact business in the commonwealth as surety.
A majority of said board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. Any vacancy occurring in the membership of the board of water commissioners from any cause may be filled for the remainder of the unexpired term by the District at any legal meeting called for the purpose. No money shall be drawn from the treasury of the District on account of its waterworks except upon a written order of said board or a majority of them.
SECTION 11. Whoever contaminates, corrupts, pollutes or diverts any source of water used by the District or any water obtained or supplied under this act, or injures any reservoir, well, standpipe, aqueduct, pipe or other property owned or used by the District for any of the purposes of this act, shall be liable for and pay to the District three times the District's cost of assessing, remedying and removing such contamination, corruption, pollution, diversion or injury, and for the District's costs, expenses and attorney's fees to be recovered in an action of tort. Any person convicted of any of the above wilful or wanton acts shall be punished by a fine of not more than three thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both.
SECTION 12. The District, upon the acceptance of this act as hereinafter provided by the town of Oak Bluffs, is hereby authorized and empowered to acquire all the rights, franchises, privileges, easements, land, and properties, tangible and intangible, real and personal, now used by or for the benefit of the water department of said town of Oak Bluffs, at a price and upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between the District and said town.
The District shall not acquire the assets of said water department unless such acquisition shall have been approved by a majority vote adopted at a town meeting of the town of Oak Bluffs. The District shall not charge said town any fees for fire hydrants and all property owned by the District shall be exempt from taxation under chapter fifty-nine of the General Laws.
SECTION 13. This act shall take effect upon its acceptance by a majority vote of the voters of the District established by section one present and voting thereon at a district meeting called, in accordance with section ten, within four years after its passage.