The expenses of a Water Level Management Board are mainly funded by the local beneficiaries of the water level management work they provide. Each Board sets a budget for its planned work in the forthcoming year and any investments it needs to make for future projects. The Land Drainage Act of 1991 determines that the expenses of a Board shall be met by:-
- Drainage Rates collected from occupiers of agricultural land/buildings within the Internal Drainage District. Land occupiers are billed directly by the Board.
- Special Levies collected from the Local Authority on behalf of occupiers of “other land” and properties. Please note that individual householders/non agricultural businesses are not billed directly.
- Contributions from the Environment Agency to account for the Board managing water from “higher land”.
All land and properties within a Drainage District are considered to benefit from the activities on a Board. For the purpose of ratings, properties are divided into:-
- Agricultural land and buildings
- Other land such as domestic houses, businesses, factories and shops etc
Occupiers of all “other land” pay Council Tax or Rates to the Local Authority who are then charged a Special Levy by the Board in proportion to the annual value of the “other land”. Individual businesses and properties are therefore not charged directly by the Board.
However, the Board does charge individual occupiers of agricultural land and buildings in the form of a Drainage Rate.
The division of expenses between agricultural land/buildings and occupiers of “other land” is determined by the annual value of all agricultural land and buildings in the District versus the total annual value of all other non agricultural land and buildings. The 1991 Land Drainage Act stipulates that the value of non agricultural land and buildings be determined from 1990 ratings information but this is no longer available as a complete data set. Defra is now seeking to amend the legislation to enable the establishment of new Water Level Management Boards and the expansion of existing Boards.
Boards can also secure grants to assist with the funding of capital and environmental works projects via Flood Defence Grant in Aid from Defra and other agencies such as lottery funding and the European Union. As public bodies, Boards are also eligible for low interest loans to assist with improvements to infrastructure.