Effective Date: 07/01/2017
Technical Quality Assurance Responsibility
Grantees have the responsibility to ensure that designated technical assistance provider(s) have the appropriate technical expertise, skills, and training to their assigned role(s).
BWSR reserves the right to review the licensure and credentials of all technical staff selected by the grantee and the technical project design if a recognized standard is not available.
Constructed Engineering and Ecological Practices and Projects
In order to ensure long-term public benefit of constructed or ecological practices and projects, the following requirements must be met by grantee for each practice or project:
a) Technical Assistance Provider. Identify the technical assistance provider(s) for the practice or project and their credentials for providing this assistance. The technical assistance provider(s) must have appropriate credentials for practice investigation, design, and construction. Credentials can include conservation partnership Technical Approval Authority (TAA) or Job Approval Authority (JAA) or Engineering Job Approval Authority (EJAA); applicable professional licensure; reputable vendor with applicable expertise and liability coverage; or other applicable credentials, training, and/or experience.
b) Practice Standards. Ensure the use of appropriate practice standards for design, construction, operation, and maintenance in the project work plan. USDA-NRCS Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG) practice standards or other applicable standards can be used. Unless otherwise directed by statute, rule or grant program policy, vegetative practices must follow the BWSR Board adopted Native Vegetation Establishment and Enhancement Guidelines (2022)
c) Practice Certification. Ensure the assigned technical assistance provider certifies that the practice or project was installed or constructed in accordance with the applicable plans and specifications, including approved modifications, prior to authorization for payment by the grantee. BWSR review of construction or installation certification will be via spot check and/or grant reconciliation.
d) Operation and Maintenance. Ensure an appropriate operation and maintenance plan is developed by qualified staff that identifies necessary activities and timing to ensure long-term public benefit of practices and projects. The operation and maintenance plan shall be provided to, and discussed with, the practice or project owner soon after construction or installation certification and may include operation and maintenance activities for the contributing watershed.
e) Periodic Practice/Project Inspection. Confirm the operation and maintenance plan is being followed and the project has not been altered or removed by conducting periodic practice/project inspections. The technical assistance provider conducting practice/project inspections may be different than the provider performing practice investigation, design, and construction.
Incentive Practices and Projects
For practices and projects that involve incentives for landowners or managers to implement management plans, such as nutrient management plans, the grantee shall identify or assign the technical assistance provider(s), document their credentials, and ensure operation and maintenance in accordance with the applicable requirements above. Follow up needs and requirements for incentive practices should be developed to address the intent of the incentive and ensure long-term public benefit. Requirements for practice/project inspections of incentive practices may or may not include additional activities such as reports from the landowner or manager in regards to progress on the management plan. BWSR review will be in accordance with the specific grant program policies and requirements.
Identifying Technical Assistance Providers and Practice Standards
In general, BWSR grants with work plan components require identification of the technical assistance provider(s), or thorough documentation of the method to be used to select appropriate technical assistance provider(s), and practice standards in the grant work plan. This work plan is reviewed and approved by BWSR prior to the execution of the grant agreement. BWSR may also review via spot check, grant monitoring, reconciliation, or verification.
For grants without work plan requirements, the technical assistance provider and practice standards are generally identified as individual practices or projects approved for funding, or the technical assistance provider may be identified in the grantee’s local policies. For example, in the Erosion Control and Water Management Program, the Soil and Water Conservation District Board must identify the practice standards and may identify the technical assistance provider when approving a specific conservation practice contract. Or, the Board may annually identify a staff member with appropriate credentials as the technical assistance provider for all of a certain type of practice to be constructed that year. BWSR review will occur via spot check, grant monitoring, reconciliation, or verification.
See also Project and Practice Assurances section of the Grants Administration Manual.
Utilizing NRCS Documentation for Technical Assurances
Practice certifications, documentation of the Technical Assistance Provider and other Technical Assurances for practices utilizing NRCS Funds and/or NRCS Technical Assistance can be completed by utilizing existing NRCS forms in the cooperator case file.
See also Program and Project Files section of the Grants Administration Manual.
Description of revisions
Updated format and language and included requirement to following the Native Vegetation Establishment and Enhancement Guidelines, consistent with all program policies.
Added language related to NRCS documentation utilized as Technical Assurances.