Revised:  August 16, 2021

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General Requirements, Policy, and Eligibility

Q:    Are tribes eligible for Clean Water Funds?

A:  No. BWSR authorities for funding lie within Minnesota State Statute 103B.3369 which defines local governments eligible to receive funding. However, tribes can work in partnership with local governments who do qualify for Clean Water Funds.


Q:    Are MPCA Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy documents considered a State approved plan?

A:  No. WRAPS documents are not “plans” per se and are not approved and adopted by local governments. The information, analysis, and recommendations contained within these documents can be referenced in your application and should be used in prioritizing and targeting objectives and action items in local water management plans.


Q:    The RFP states that prevailing wages apply. What are the grant applicant’s responsibilities for compliance?

A:  Prevailing wage requirements apply to all state funds used for “projects” that meet the definition identified in M.S 177.42 Subd. 2.  As the RFP states, your first source of information for questions about the application of prevailing wage rates should be directed to the Department of Labor and Industry at 651-284-5070, or . However, the following information may help you better understand these requirements.

The responsibilities of a grant recipient are to: (1) be aware of prevailing wage and ensure their project’s cost proposals address this requirement; (2) include prevailing wage information in their bid and contract documents; and (3) receive and maintain the payroll reports that contractors will furnish every two weeks. Prevailing wage does not apply to administrative activities of the grant recipient or construction activities directly conducted by a local government, i.e. if an SWCD uses its own staff to plant trees, prevailing wage would not apply, but if they contracted with Joe’s Planting Service it would. For additional information refer to the BWSR website:


Q:    What can be used for in-kind cash value as match?

A:  Match includes the services, materials, or cash contributed to the accomplishment of grant objectives. In-kind cash value must be directly attributed to the project or activity accomplishments and account for the same as items charged directly to the grant.  Activities listed as ineligible under Section 4 (Ineligible Activities) of the policy may not be counted towards match. Use the following guidance when considering in-kind cash value:

Local staff and administrative costs in excess of the reporting and grant management, project development, or technical and engineering component of the grant funds received.

Conservation practice costs may not be increased beyond the actual costs of technical assistance, design, materials, and installation by the application of match. In no case may conservation practice costs exceed 100% of the actual cost of design, materials, and installation. Land value match may only be used to match structural or installed conservation practices and may only be applied where changes from current land use or land cover are implemented such that water resource protection becomes the new primary objective for the land under consideration.


Q:    Can loan or grant funds from other state programs be used as match?

A:  Loan funds from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) Clean Water Partnership (CWP) Program, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s AgBMP Program and Public Facilities Authority’s water programs may be used as match.  Any state grant funds may not be used as match.   


Projects and Practices Grants

Q:   Are MINNFARM pollution estimates based on the pollution problem at the existing feedlot today or the reduction of pollution after the fix has been implemented?

A:  For the purposes of the grant application, the pollution reduction achieved from implementing the fix (which is the difference between the pollution estimates pre and post project) must be entered into eLINK.  If the project design or construction changes occur during the grant period, the new pollution reduction estimate must be reported in eLINK under Activity Details as actual results.


Q:   Does BWSR have any preferences for feasibility studies that are submitted for in-lake management practices?

A:  Yes, BWSR prefers that feasibility studies that are assembled from multiple studies/reports include a Table of Contents that clearly indicates on what page numbers required information can be found.


Q:   I am applying for funding for a pit closure. Do I need to fill out the required supplemental questions for Livestock Waste Management applications?

A: It depends.   Applicants do not have to complete the supplemental worksheet for facilities that are no longer actively registered, don’t have livestock, or facilities to house livestock.  However, an applicant with an active feedlot registration would need to fill out the form. 


Q:   Does the feedlot operator need to update their feedlot registration at the time of submitting the grant application?

A:  PCA or delegated counties determine feedlot registration requirements and timing.  However BWSR uses the feedlot registration information in Delta at the time of grant application submittal to determine compliance with CWF policy.


Q:  Must the financial assurance for stream bank stabilization and stream restoration projects be liquid cash, such as an escrow held throughout the life of the project?

A: No, but at a minimum, documentation must be provided that identifies expectations and commitment from all engaged parties.  Section 3.2 and Section 3.3 of the FY2022 Clean Water Fund Completive Grant policy specifically details requirements for project assurances and operation and maintenance. 

BWSR recognizes that stream restoration and stabilization projects are an important management tool for local governments to meet their clean water goals.   However, because rivers are by their very nature always changing, it is crucial that stream restoration projects take this risk into account.  Effective stream restoration will involve maintenance and may involve adaptive management when the river system does not respond as expected or when unexpected events interfere with restoration success. 

Given the importance of maintenance and adaptive management to the success of a stream restoration or streambank stabilization project, it is important for BWSR to realistically appraise whether adequate assurances are in place to ensure a project’s long-term goals are met.


Projects and Practices Drinking Water Sub-grant Program

Q: Are grade stabilizations in watercourses that contribute large amounts of sediment upstream of a public surface water supply eligible projects under the Projects and Practice Drinking Water sub-grant Program? 

A:  No. In channel grade stabilization projects technically are not land treatment projects and would fall under “streambank stabilization and stream restoration” which would not be eligible for the Drinking Water sub-grant program.


Q: Why is a map of the project area required for this program?

A:  A map detailing various GIS layers is required to show why the area is targeted for drinking water protection.  Data layers to consider are:

  • Pollution sensitivity of near surface materials with expanded key (ex. High – coarse grain material)
  • DWSMAs with vulnerability ratings with expanded key (ex. High – coarse grain material)
  • Aquifer use by section
  • Township testing results
  • MDA Groundwater Protection Rule Level 1 and 2 DWSMAs
  • Source Water Protection, Priority Area A & B.


Q: Do we need ArcGIS to create the required project map?

A:  No.  Most data layers are available in map form using the DNR WHAF tool.: ( Instructions for use along with additional information can be found at


Multipurpose Drainage Management Grants

Q:    Why is BWSR requiring a partnership between a Chapter 103E drainage authority and SWCD?

A:  The objective for this requirement is to help integrate on-field and on-farm conservation practices with on-drainage system practices to achieve multiple water management purposes, including reduced drainage system maintenance, erosion control, peak flow reduction and water quality improvement for priority Chapter 103E drainage systems. An associated objective is to promote use of the authority in Section 103E.011, Subd. 5. Use of external sources of funding, and other applicable drainage law provisions, to integrate public and private funding for the multiple purposes outlined in the recently updated Section 103E.015, Subd. 1. Environmental, land use and multipurpose water management criteria.


Q:    Can BWSR explain what is meant by partnership in more detail?

 A:  BWSR is not specifying how the Drainage Authority / SWCD partnership would work, but presumably it would utilize the authorities and strengths of the partners to achieve the program purposes. Potential shared or coordinated partner roles, as applicable, could include, but are not limited to: grant project management; grant fiscal agent; project and conservation practice planning; landowner coordination; design and other technical assistance; manage drainage system proceeding(s) or actions, as appropriate; conservation practice layout and construction oversight; and financial match (cash or in-kind).


Q:    Can the required minimum 25% match be provided by a combination of drainage system share and/or landowner share?

A:  Yes.  For example, a priority Chapter 103E drainage system could provide all of the match for a wetland restoration on the drainage system; and/or the drainage system could provide half of the match for an eligible conservation practice on land within the benefited area of the drainage system and the landowner provide the other half of the match; and/or the landowner could provide all the required match for an eligible conservation practice outside the benefited area, but within the watershed of the drainage system.  Note that Section 103E.011, Subd. 5 provides “notwithstanding” authority to use funds derived from drainage system assessments, in addition to external sources of funding, outside the benefited area but within the watershed of the drainage system for the purposes identified in Subd. 5.  Sources of match must be non-state.


Q:    Can Multipurpose Drainage Management grant funds be used for the establishment of buffers?

A:  Buffers that are required by law (statute, rule, or ordinance), incremental buffer strips under Section 103E.021, Subd. 6., or buffer establishment for a saturated buffer are not eligible. However, Eligible Activity 5, Constructed Wetland or Wetland Restoration allows grant funds to be used for required upland buffers


Q:    If we apply for Drainage Water Management activities, could the landowner or operator leave subsurface drainage controls (e.g. weir boards) out in the fall and install them before spring runoff for spring flood control?

 A:  Yes. Although this grant program uses the NRCS Conservation Practice Standards we have been told by NRCS that the present standard allows flexibility for leaving the control boards out in the fall to address issues encountered in cold regions, such as preventing damage to the structures caused by freezing over the winter.


Q:    Is the total cost of a proposed repair project on, along, or in the watershed of a priority Chapter 103E drainage system limited to the total benefits defined by the most recent determination of benefits and damages for the drainage system?

 A:  No. Although the cost of a drainage system repair project is limited by the total amount of drainage system benefits “on the books”, Section 103E.011, Subd. 5. Use of External Sources of Funding, starts with ”notwithstanding other provisions of this chapter” and does not have a limit on the amount of external funds a drainage authority may accept for the purposes of wetland preservation or restoration, creation of water quality improvements, or flood control.


Q:    Does BWSR have a budget template that we can fill out and submit with our application as required?

A:  Yes.  That template is found on the Apply for Grants page on the BWSR website. 


Q:   How do I attach the required Budget spreadsheet (Multipurpose Drainage Management Grants only)?

 A:  Within the Attachments tab of the application in eLINK, you may add your required budget worksheet as type “General Attachment”. Please note that this attachment type is allowed only when required by the program. Do not add additional documents here, as they will not be seen by reviewers.


Q:    If a ditch system project is being completed at the same time as an MDM project, is the cost of the ditch project considered eligible for grant funds? 

 A:  No. Components of projects needed to meet the statutory requirements of 103E Drainage Law and are not eligible for CWF grant funding. Grant funds for BMPs associated with a ditch system project also cannot be used in the drainage law calculation of cost benefit ratio for the ditch project.  The grant funds can only be used to provide additional benefits beyond the required thresholds.



Q:  Can multiple photos be submitted for an application?

A: Only one application image file in one of the allowable formats may be submitted per application (jpeg, gif, tiff, bmp, png; file extension should be lower case). The application image file will be automatically scaled to fit on one page of the final application document.  The composition of the application image is up to the applicant. Images are added through the “Upload Application Image” button on the Grant Request page. Images uploaded as General Attachments will not be seen by reviewers. 


Q:  Can a design be submitted with an application?

A:  Yes.  If the design is saved as one of the acceptable application image file formats (jpeg, gif, tiff, bmp, png), it may be used as the one allowed application image. Images are added through the “Upload Application Image” button on the Grant Request page. Images uploaded as General Attachments will not be seen by reviewers.


Q:  What are the character limits for application questions?

A: Most of the questions within the application have a 2,000-character limit (approximately 300 words), including spaces. If you choose to develop your responses outside of eLINK, e.g. in Word, note that programs may count the characters differently due to differences in how the characters are encoded.


Q: The character limit for answering most application questions in eLINK is 2000 characters. Does that include spaces?

A: Yes. A space is considered a character in eLINK.


Q:  Why did I get an error message saying one of the application fields was empty after I entered the required data and then tried to submit the application?

A:   You must save the information to the application before submitting. It may be necessary to scroll to the top or bottom of the page to bring the “Save” button into view. If you save while one of narrative questions is blank, the placeholder text “Not Entered” will be inserted; this will need to be replaced prior to submitting the application.


Q: My map was the last thing I created in my application. When I submitted the application, I didn’t receive an email notification that my application was submitted. What happened?

A:  The map creation function may take several seconds to finish processing.  If you try and submit the application before the map creation is done, the eLINK system      considers the application incomplete and does not send out a notification. When the        map creation function is complete, you will see a popup window indicating the map has been successfully saved. At that time, you may submit the application and should receive the proper notification.  


Q: Why am I having trouble creating my map?

A1: eLINK is optimized for use with Microsoft (MS) Internet Explorer 9 or newer or Mozilla Firefox. Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, and any other browsers are not officially supported, and users may encounter difficulties with features such as mapping.

A2: If you select a large number of HUCs for your map, it slows down the map processing considerably and currently there is no hourglass or other symbol to alert you to this. Please consider making a smaller, more targeted HUC selection or be incredibly patient.  If the project area is >50 HUC12s please select a HUC12 in the center of your project and describe the project scope in your answers to the targeting questions.


Q: Help! I lost some of the narrative portion of my application after I saved the information!

A:  Each of the narrative questions within the application has a 2,000-character limit. The user interface will not allow you to enter more than 2,000 characters, and it will trim any pasted content to 2,000 characters. If you plan to develop narrative responses to the application questions in Word as a backup, be aware the character count in eLINK may be different, and your narrative may be automatically trimmed to fit the eLINK character limit.  The application must be submitted through eLINK.

Q: Help! eLINK won't save my narrative question responses!

If your narrative question responses are very close to the character limit, it is still possible that a difference in how the characters are encoded can cause the text to exceed the character count limit, and prevent the application from saving.

Special characters are often encoded as multiple characters. If you are using special characters in an effort to abbreviate and use fewer characters, it can actually push the content over the limit and prevent the content from saving.

Q:   Can I make changes to a submitted application during the RFP open period? 

A: Yes. You will need to change the submitted status to “in process”, make changes, and change the status back to “Submit”. The status change triggers generating the report, which is added to the Attachments tab and seen by reviewers.  Please note that failure to change the status back to “Submitted” will not capture any changes for review team, and applications not in “Submitted” status at the time the RFP closes will not be considered for funding. 


Q:  Can I access my earlier grant applications even if they were not funded?                   

A: Yes, you can access them by logging into eLINK and from the homepage under the “Grants” module, click on the “Include closed grants” box, enter the appropriate fiscal year’s allocation, and click “Go”.


Q:  Can consultants submit grant applications in eLINK on behalf of LGUs?

 A: Yes, there are two ways to accomplish this. One way is for the LGU to start an application and add a consultant to the “team membership”. The consultant must have an active eLINK user account to be added to the team membership. The second way is for a consultant to request an eLINK user account from the eLINK homepage and indicate the LGU(s) for which they are applying. The LGUs should be aware of this request.

eLINK user accounts should not be shared by multiple individuals; a separate user account should be requested by each individual needing access. It is not necessary to create multiple eLINK user accounts for one individual if access is needed for multiple organizations. To request access to additional LGUs contact


Q:  I have entered proposed indicators within the Application Activities.  Why do I also need to provide a narrative summary of “proposed Measurable Outcomes”?             

A:  BWSR is required to report proposed and actual outcomes on the Legislative Coordinating Commission’s Legacy website. While grantees report proposed and actual outcomes in eLINK at the activity detail level, the LCC requires this data to be bundled into a 250-character summary for the entire grant.


Q:  When attempting to submit my application, I get a message stating, “For each activity, you must either check the box verifying that there are no pollution reduction estimates associated with the Activity or enter proposed indicators.” What do I need to do?

A: Within the Application Budget tab, you will either need to ensure that the “Check here if this activity does not include proposed pollution reduction estimates” is checked within the Edit Application Activity” screen (pencil icon), or enter proposed indicators within the “Edit Indicators” screen (orange diamond icon). If your project will include on the ground practices resulting in pollution reductions, indicators must be entered.


Q:  When is an additional Attachment allowed?

 A: Items should only be uploaded under the Attachments tab when specifically required, as per the RFP. For FY22, the following programs and/or project types require the specified attachments:

  • Multipurpose Drainage Management: Budget Worksheet
  • Projects & Practices: In-Lake Treatment Feasibility Study
  • Projects & Practices: Livestock Waste Management Practices Supplemental Worksheet
  • Projects & Practices Drinking Water: Project Location Map


If additional attachments beyond those described above are added, they will not be accessible to Reviewers. See the first two eLINK questions for more details on adding an application image.