In 1994, eleven joint powers boards (JPBs) of SWCDs were established in conjunction with establishment of the Agricultural Best Management Practices Loan Program and Clean Water Partnership Loan Program, which utilize funding from the State Revolving Fund. Accelerated technical assistance was identified as a critical need for program implementation. The Legislature appropriated money from the state's General Fund to BWSR to create what became the Non-Point Engineering Assistance Program (NPEAP). These funds were used by the JPBs to provide engineering assistance to the member SWCDs.
From the beginning, NPEAP staff has utilized current surveying and design technology to help provide effective and efficient engineering assistance. Engineering was the sole focus of the program until 2003, when the Conservation Technical Assistance Committee (CTAC), made up of SWCD Supervisor representatives from the eleven JPBs, met to discuss potential consolidation (which didn’t occur at that time) and recommended revising the name to Technical Service Areas (TSAs) to encourage the inclusion of other technical services. In 2009, the original eleven TSA boundaries were revised to reduce the total number to eight TSAs and to be co-aligned with MASWCD area boundaries, due primarily to funding constraints. These are the current TSA boundaries.
TSAs are a critical component of the conservation delivery system in Minnesota for conservation on private lands, with the associated benefits to water quality, wildlife habitat, agricultural productivity, and sustainability. TSA staff provide technical assistance to and through member SWCDs, in cooperation with the USDA NRCS, BWSR and other local, state, and federal government units.
TSA authority can vary, depending on the how the organization is structured.
There are currently three different types of organizational structures that are used by the various TSAs:
- Joint Powers Agreement with board (most common current model);
- Joint Powers Agreement with no board; and
- Memorandum of Agreement with administrative team.
BWSR maintains a TSA Directory containing staff contact information, as well as, the TSA address and telephone number(s).
This map (PDF) shows the current TSA and MASWCD areas.