Inside this Issue:
Important Upcoming Dates
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Grants!
FY24 Clean Water Fund Competitive RFP Now Open
Updates to the Grants Administration Manual
Tip of the Quarter
FY24 and FY25 Biennial Grant Agreements and TSA/NPEA Grants
Best Management Practice Data Updated on the MnGEO Commons
Board Awards Grants for FY23 Clean Water Legacy Partners Pilot and FY23 Water Quality and Storage Pilot Programs
Amendments for Grants Expiring 12/31/2023
Aug 24: Deadline to apply for FY24 Clean Water Fund competitive grants
Aug 31: Clean Water Legacy Partners work plan submittal deadline
Sept 19: Water Quality and Storage work plan submittal deadline
Oct 24-26: BWSR Academy - Cragun's, Brainerd, MN
BWSR will soon begin distributing grant agreements for FY24 and the FY24-25 biennium, and we want to ensure that the process is easy...like a Saturday afternoon eating an ice cream cone. The delivery mechanism has changed slightly with the new eLINK system and DocuSign integration, and below are answers to some of the common questions about the new process.
Who will be receiving my grant agreement?
The singular designated Day-to-Day Contact (D2DC) for your organization in eLINK will receive the grant agreement. Learn more by visiting the eLINK Guidance page on Accessing your Grant Agreement or Amendment.
How will my organization receive our grant agreements?
The grant agreement will be routed to the D2DC for signature via an email from DocuSign. Watch for an email from "Kari Keating via DocuSign." You may assign your grant agreement to another individual (e.g. a board member) for signature as needed, but BWSR is not able to route the document to multiple individuals simultaneously.
Grant agreements must be signed via DocuSign. We will no longer accept them in a .pdf format.
If you receive the grant agreement from DocuSign, but are not the person who needs to sign it, please follow these steps:
- Open the document.
- Find and click the button “Other Actions”.
- Select the option “Assign to Someone Else”.
- When the window pops up, add the name and email address of the person who will be signing the grant agreement.
- Hit send, and an email will be sent to that person prompting them for signature.
For signing issues, please visit DocuSign Support.
How do I verify my organization's current address in SWIFT and eLINK?
Check that your organization's address is current in both eLINK and SWIFT.
To update your address in eLINK, log in to eLINK and to Contacts > Organizations. Find your organization and click on the adjacent Edit (pencil) icon. Update any address details as needed.
To update your address in SWIFT, please access the SWIFT vendor/supplier portal and follow the prompts to update or correct the address.
How do I update the Day-to-Day Contact for my organization?
If you need to update the D2DC, or aren't sure who your D2DC is, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide the name of your organization, the name of the person to be removed as the D2DC, and the name of the new D2DC. Please make sure to notify BWSR when the D2DC--or any staff with an eLINK account--leave the organization so that we can ensure permissions are up to date and that critical grant communications reach your organization.
The FY24 CWF RFP is now open, and will close at 4:30 pm on Thursday, August 24th. The RFP, policy, FAQs, and other supporting documents will be posted on the Apply for Grants page. Applicants should familiarize themselves with the RFP and policy documents to avoid issues of eligibility.
Applications must be submitted via eLINK, BWSR’s grant management system. Applicants are strongly encouraged to begin the application process early so that they can request help if they need it. Eligible applicants without a current eLINK user account must submit an account request no later than seven days prior to the application deadline.
FY24 Clean Water Fund Timeline:
- June 29, 2023: Application period opens
- August 24, 2023: Application deadline is 4:30 p.m. (late applications will not be accepted)
- December 14, 2023: BWSR Board authorizes grant awards (proposed)
- February 2024: BWSR grant agreements sent to recipients (proposed)
- March 20, 2024: Work plan submittal deadline
- April 17, 2024: Grant execution deadline
- December 31, 2026: Grant expiration date
FY24 Competitive Clean Water Grant Programs:
BWSR Projects and Practices
|Funds are to be used to protect, enhance and restore water quality in lakes, rivers and streams and to protect groundwater and drinking water. Eligible activities include structural and vegetative practices to reduce runoff and retain water on the land, livestock water quality projects, Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) abatement grants for low-income individuals, and stream bank, stream channel and shoreline protection projects.
Projects and Practices - Drinking Water subprogram
This grant invests in land treatment projects and practices that will protect or improve drinking water sources. Surface water (streams, rivers, and lakes) and groundwater (aquifers) can both serve as sources of drinking water.
MDA AgBMP Loans1
MN Department of Agriculture offers low- interest loans to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses to support agricultural Best Management Practices that prevent or reduce runoff from feedlots, farm fields and other pollution problems identified by the county in local water plans. Any LGU may apply, but awards will be coordinated through existing contract holders.
MPCA Clean Water Partnership Loans1
MN Pollution Control Agency’s Clean Water Partnership (CWP) program offers zero-interest loans to local units of government for addressing nonpoint-source pollution to improve water quality.
1Indicate interest in loan dollars as part of a Projects and Practices or Projects and Practices Drinking Water application.
While you may have noticed that Multi-Purpose Drainage Management (MDM) funding is not part of this CWF Competitive RFP, we are exploring a way to allow applications for MDM-related grant activities on a more frequent basis. For this process to work well we will also need to revisit how we assess applications and the timing of reviews. With those considerations our current anticipated timeline is to open a standalone, quarterly MDM application process sometime this fall/winter.
The Grants Administration Manual (GAM) establishes administrative and programmatic requirements for all grants administered by BWSR. Most updates for FY24 pertain to changes to the new eLINK system. For detail, please visit the link to the updated chapters below.
Summary of Changes
|About the GAM||Added the term Sub-agreement. Updated references to reflect processes in the new eLINK system. Removed acronym section and moved to BWSR website|
|Allowable and Unallowable Costs||Updated mileage rates|
|Amendments to Grants and Workplans||Updated references to reflect processes in the new eLINK system|
|Closing Out a BWSR Grant||Updated to reflect process changes in eLINK. Struck redundant information|
|Determining a Billing Rate||Removed outdated references|
|Processing a BWSR Grant||Updated to reflect process changes in eLINK and use of DocuSign|
|Records, Program and, Project Files||Removed reference to Local Water Management program match|
|Reporting Requirements for BWSR Grants||Updated to reflect process changes in eLINK. Clarified TSA annual financial statement requirement|
|Requesting a Reimbursement or Payment||Removed references to Financial Report to reflect procedural changes in the updated eLINK system|
|Time and Effort Documentation||Removed dated reference of position descriptions|
|Vegetation Requirements||Updates were made throughout, and the Diversity Levels section was removed|
Q. How can organizations account for part-time employees when determining a billing rate?
A. For part-time permanent employees, enter the hours to be worked by the employee, in terms of a part of a full-time equivalent (FTE), in the Yearly Hours Worked box on the billing rate template (i.e. if the employee is employed at ½ FTE, enter 1044 in the Yearly Hours Worked box). For short-term seasonal/intern employees, you have the option to include them on the billing rate template or use the modified base rate (wages, benefits, and leave) to charge their time worked to grants.
Due to the language passed in Laws of Minnesota 2023, Regular Session, Chapter 60 (General Fund) Article 1, Section 4, fiscal years 2024 and 2025, Programs and Ops (P&O/State Cost-Share), Natural Resources Block Grant (NRBG), Technical Service Area/Nonpoint Engineering Assistance (TSA/NPEA) grants will be set to end on December 31, 2025. The passed language is missing unique appropriation expirations for these grants so the default appropriation expiration is July 30, 2025. We are able to align the grant expiration date to the usual end of calendar year, meaning grants will expire December 31,2025. Additional extension amendments may be available on a case-by-case basis but please note that there is limited ability to extend these grants past May 1, 2026.
- NRBG grants reflect a one-time increase of 36.5% from the previous biennium for each year.
- TSA/NPEA grants remain the same and follow the established rotating equipment funds schedule.
- P&O/State Cost-Share grants are expected to be approved by the board at the August meeting and are expected to remain at the same levels as the previous biennium.
The Board has approved these grants and allocations at their meeting on June 28, 2023. The approved allocation amounts will be posted under the Allocations section on the SWCD Grants, County Grants, and TSA Grants pages of the website, respectively. Payments for these grants will be made after July 1.
BWSR updates the eLINK Best Management Practice (BMP) geospatial data on the MnGEO Commons on an annual basis. To access the data, go to this link: https://gisdata.mn.gov/dataset/env-state-cons-bmp-locs . Recently, the data was updated to include practices reported through 2023 annual reporting from local partners for all grants that have been closed by February 2023. BMPs from open grants are not included in the MnGEO dataset. There are now over 43,430 records in the geographic information system (GIS) database available to the public, up from approximately 41,000 records in 2022 and 39,000 in 2021. New this year is a column that flags BMPs that only have Clean Water Funds (CWFs) connected to them, which is helpful if you want to sort just by CWF grant-funded BMPs. In the attribute table of the GIS data, scroll all the way to the right and you will see a “CWF_FLAG” column of data shown below.
Board Awards Grants for FY23 Clean Water Legacy Partners Pilot and FY23 Water Quality and Storage Pilot Programs
The BWSR Board approved grant awards for the FY23 Clean Water Legacy Partners Pilot program at its April 27th meeting, and approved FY23 Water Quality and Storage Pilot program grants at its June 28th board meeting.
Clean Water Legacy Partners Grant Program (Pilot)
On April 26, 2023 BWSR awarded Clean Water Legacy Partners Pilot grants totaling $1,005,374.00 to seven grantees. Grantees included:
- Red Lake Nation
- Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
- Upper Sioux Community
- Clean River Partners
- Upper Red Lake Area Association
- Spark-Y: Youth Action Labs
- Briggs Lake Chain Association
Learn more about the program and the awarded projects at Clean Water Legacy Partners Grant Program page of BWSR's website.
Water Storage Grants
The Board has approved the allocation of Water Quality and Storage Pilot Grant Program Awards to three applicants:
- Area II: $140,214.00
- Area II: $584,813.00
- Bois de Sioux Watershed District: $1,000,000.00
This competitive grant program is intended to control water volume and rates to protect infrastructure, improve water quality and related public benefits, and mitigate climate change impacts.
Are you on track to complete projects and close out grants that will expire at the end of this year? Summer is a good time to assess progress on any grants expiring at the end of 2023, and begin the conversation within your organization and with your Board Conservationist about whether an amendment—including an extension—may be needed.
The Grant Agreement Amendments and Work Plan Revisions chapter of the BWSR Grants Administration Manual establishes the procedures for requesting an amendment, which should begin 3-6 months before the grant agreement expiration date.