Last Revised: March 6, 2023
General Requirements, Policy, and Eligibility
Area of Interest – Area defined by the applicant which has flooding issues, water quality issues, or climate vulnerabilities. Applicant is responsible to define the extent of their concerns at the area of interest to help reviewers understand how the proposed project or practices will improve conditions.
Critical 100-year (or 10-year) Event – this is the event that will result in the highest peak flow rate and/or volume at the area of interest. The 24-hour rainfall is often considered, but the critical event may have a longer time period or may be a snowmelt event.
Q: Does the restriction on projects requiring a 103E proceeding include all projects on a public drainage system?
A: No. The RFP uses Minnesota Statute 103E.005 definitions for proceeding and drainage project. Proceeding is defined as “a procedure … related to drainage that begins with filing a petition and ends by dismissal or establishment of a drainage project” (Subd. 22) and drainage project is defined as “a new drainage system, an improvement of a drainage system, an improvement of an outlet, or a lateral” (Subd. 11). Therefore projects associated with a new drainage system, an improvement of a drainage system, outlet, or lateral are currently ineligible. Other projects, such as those adding a storage area to the public drainage system, are eligible.
Q: Can funds be used to purchase property to protect it from development?
A: Funds can be used to purchase property or to put an easement on property, but the applicant must still demonstrate how the funds would be reducing rates or volumes in the runoff hydrograph assuming existing conditions. The reduction in rates or volumes cannot consider a future development to pre-development change in land use or storage capacity.
Q: Can you clarify the difference between “Improvements or retrofits of existing storage areas to increase storage capacity or retention time” (eligible practice) and “Maintenance or repair of existing structures/storage projects” (ineligible practice)?
A: The eligible activity would create or provide additional storage beyond what the original structure provided. When the reduction of flow rates and volumes are considered during scoring, reviewers will only count additional storage against the structure in its fixed condition and the project would only get “credit” for that additional storage added. The entire cost of repair and improvement can be submitted and will be considered for funding.
Q: How should a change in the hydrograph be demonstrated?
A: Applicants should provide flow hydrographs modeled with a standard hydrologic modeling program under existing and proposed conditions. Hydrographs must be shown at the area of interest and at the HUC12 outlet downstream of the area of interest. Stage hydrographs are also acceptable as long as the applicant can describe how the change in elevation (as opposed to the change in flow) will result in reduced flooding or improved water quality at the area of interest.
Q: What methods can be used to quantify water quality benefits?
A: Water quality benefits can be quantified using standard methods used for other grant applications, such as the estimator tool or other modeling software.
Q: How can examples of flood reduction benefits be provided?
A: To help reviewers understand the flood reduction benefits, applicants should explain the flood concerns at the area of interest (what is flooding, how much, and how often), and how the proposed project is expected to improve those conditions.
Q: What is required as part of the feasibility study?
A: There are no specific requirements for the feasibility study. Feasibility studies are intended to supplement the information in the application. If the feasibility study contains information such as the project location/map, hydrographs showing the reduction in flow rate and/or volumes, how the project will improve conditions in the watershed, and/or alternatives considered, these are items that do not need to be explained in depth in eLINK application. However, the application narrative should refer to the page number/section of the feasibility study.
Q: Why are there requirements for project longevity and maintenance plans?
A: Due to the expected scale of the proposed projects, it is important that the funds used by this program result in projects or practices that will be in place long enough to recognize the improvements in the system, therefore projects should be in place for a minimum of 25-years. Also, storage projects will decrease in performance if they are not maintained properly. Therefore, the applicant must assure that proper maintenance will be completed on the project and/or practices.
Q: What if the project does not result in a reduction of flow rates or volumes further downstream?
A: It is not required that proposed projects and/or practices show a reduction in flow rates further downstream than their area of interest, but it is important that applicants consider the positive or potential negative effects of their project on their watershed as a whole. Applications that demonstrate benefits further downstream than their area of interest will score higher than projects that show more limited improvements. Applications should discuss how their project fits into a watershed wide approach.
Q: Why is this program limited to projects/practices with feasibility studies and why are projects not allowed to be part of a 103E proceeding?
A: Due to limited funding, stricter requirements are in place for the pilot program. If future funding is secured, it is expected that feasibility studies will be funded as part of this program. It is also necessary to develop additional criteria to score projects that are associated with 103E proceedings. These will be discussed during the pilot phase of this program, and future versions of the program may allow these types of projects.
Q: How do I attach the required feasibility study?
A: Within the Attachments section of the application in eLINK, follow the prompt to upload your feasibility study.
Q: My feasibility study does not include a hydrograph image. How do I attach the required hydrograph image?
A: Within the Attachments section of the application in eLINK, you will be asked if you need to add a separate hydrograph image (i.e. the image was not included in the feasibility study). If your response is Yes, follow the prompt to upload your hydrograph image.
Q: Can multiple photos be submitted for an application?
A: You will be allowed to add one optional application image, which will be embedded into the application document for reviewers to see. Additionally, if your feasibility study attachment does not include a hydrograph image, then follow the prompt in the Attachments tab to upload your hydrograph image. We cannot accept additional images beyond the optional application image and required hydrograph image.
Q: What activities should I add to my Application Budget?
A: While building your Application Budget, please break down your budget into the relevant Activity Categories. Activity Categories that may apply to this program include:
- Agricultural Practices
- Nonstructural Management Practices
- Planning and Assessment
- Project Development
- Streambank or Shoreline Protection
- Technical/Engineering Assistance
- Urban Stormwater Management Practices
- Wetland Restoration/Creation
Note that not all practices under the above categories will necessarily be eligible. Check with your Board Conservationist if you have questions about eligibility.
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, be aware 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: 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 navigating to "Request Funds" in the left menu, then clicking on "Funding Requests". You will need to check the “Include closed request” box to search for your previous application.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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: This is a required field for all applications, and allows for a high-level comparison between what was proposed during the funding request and the final outcomes reported at grant closeout.
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: The only attachments that can be added are:
- Optional application image,
- Required feasibility study, and
- A hydrography image, if not included in the feasibility study documents.