Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network (WPLMN) Sampling Grants
Tracking the health of streams in Minnesota is a big job, and one that the MPCA can’t do alone. The agency depends on local partners for help.
WPLMN sampling grants are now available for local partners to assist with event monitoring in watersheds in southern Minnesota.
What is WPLMN monitoring?
The WPLMN is designed to measure and compare regional differences and long-term trends in water quality among Minnesota's watersheds. Since the program's inception in 2007, with an appropriation from Minnesota's Clean Water Legacy Fund, the network has adopted a multi-agency monitoring design.
Site-specific stream flow data from United States Geological Survey (USGS) and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) gaging stations is combined with water quality data collected by the Metropolitan Council Environmental Services (MCES), local monitoring organizations, and the MPCA to compute pollutant loads at river monitoring sites across Minnesota. Water quality samples are collected across a full range of flow conditions with greatest emphasis given to periods of moderate and high flow.
The WPLMN monitors streams and rivers at various scales:
- Minnesota’s major rivers (i.e. Red, Rainy, St. Croix, Minnesota and Mississippi)
- Major tributaries also known as the 8 digit HUC scale (i.e., Blue Earth River, Root River)
- Streams within major tributaries also known as intermediate subwatershed sites
In 2007, the MPCA began establishing the major river and major tributary monitoring sites within the WPLMN. In 2012, the MPCA expanded this network to include intermediate subwatershed monitoring sites in northwestern and northeastern Minnesota. It is anticipated that the WPLMN monitoring and data collection program will continue for at least 20 years across the state.
How to apply
The 2013 grant round for Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network Sampling is now open!
The MPCA has approximately $700,000 in Clean Water Legacy Funds available for the Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network Sampling Grant for the years 2013-2014. The application period begins September 24, 2012 and ends October 25, 2012 at 2:30 p.m. For more information or to request a copy of the RFP and application, please see the State Register.
Applicants for WPLMN Sampling Grants can include local and regional units of government, tribes, nonprofits, educational institutions and watershed management organizations or districts in Minnesota.
Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network Sampling funds are used to monitor the physical and chemical water quality parameters of streams primarily during events (i.e., snowmelt or rain events) when watershed runoff is high to determine contaminant concentrations from the watershed, with a smaller percentage of sampling to measure base flow conditions.
Applying for WPLMN Sampling Grant Funds
The WPLMN Sampling grant is competitive. The RFP will typically be released each year in the late summer, at which time instructions for obtaining the RFP will be made available on this webpage. Monitoring will begin with snow melt in late winter or spring the year following contract execution.
To request to be placed on the mailing list to receive notification of the next RFP, please send an email to Contracts@pca.state.mn.us . After many years of offering competitive grants, the MPCA has noticed several common problems on applications that resulted in lost points during evaluation. To ensure your application is its most competitive, the MPCA offers the following advice:
- Obtain a copy of the latest RFP. Small eligibility changes are made each year, and the evaluation process may also change from time to time. Applications that fail usually do so because they propose ineligible projects (i.e., sites not in the RFP are suggested for monitoring or investigative or diagnostics studies are proposed).
- Read the application instructions. They provide guidance on how to create the most competitive application.
- Past grant awards are no guarantee for future awards. The application evaluation team may not be familiar with your organization or past projects, so answer each question fully to showcase your experience and project proposal.
- Make sure your site maps are readable. Ideally, include one map that shows your project area in relation to nearby cities and a second that shows each site location in relation to the nearest road crossing. Expand the map(s) to fit an entire page, if needed. There is no limit to the number of maps you can include.
We also are looking for local partners to help monitor surface waters for background, or ambient, conditions, and offer Surface Water Assessment Grants for that work. The 2013 Surface Water Assessment Grant round is expected to open in November 2012.
For any questions regarding the Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network Sampling Grant RFP or application process or for any information regarding Surface Water Assessment Grants, please contact Kelly O’Hara at 651-757-2622 1-800-657-3864 or at CWLA.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Under their grant agreement with the MPCA, recipients of WPLMN Sampling Grants must submit data and project updates to the MPCA:
- Stream water quality data must be submitted by November 1 annually (formerly STORET). Information on data reporting requirements and necessary forms can be found on the MPCA Surface Water Data Submittal, Review and Reports page.
- A Quality Assurance Project Plan will need to be developed and approved by the MPCA after execution of the grant contract and prior to the first sampling event.
- A field meter calibration log will be provided by the MPCA for use in documenting the results of the field meter calibration. The log will be due by November 1, annually.
- A Microsoft Excel spreadsheet will be due to the MPCA by November 1, annually that contains notes, field meter data and water level information. A template will be available.
- Digital photos need to be taken at each site visit and submitted with documentation to the MPCA by November 1, annually.
- Pollutant loads calculated using the FLUX32 model will be due to the MPCA by September 1, annually.
- An interim report will describe activities completed in the previous year and discuss upcoming tasks to be completed. An updated budget will be included as a part of the report.
- A final progress report will describe the activities completed in the previous year and summarize activities throughout the grant period.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
Frequently Asked Questions
Applicants must submit questions they would like answered regarding this RFP by no later than 2:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, October 5, 2012 to:
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
520 Lafayette Road North St. Paul, MN 55155
Email: email@example.com, with subject line: “CR5905 WPLMN”.
The following is a list of the questions received along with answers.
Regarding long term monitoring at Cedar on co. 28 and Turtle at Co. 43, are we talking about the RFP for Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network (WPLMN) sites or potentially would this be a separate contract with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)? I am trying to make the decision as to applying for the WLPMN. Wondering what the MPCA's long term monitoring goals are in the Cedar and how we can help?
The intent of the WPLMN program is to provide long-term data at select sites (RFP, page 1), but a limited number sites were added in this grant round (RFP, page 1, paragraph 6).
Regarding the sites mentioned, if the “Cedar on co. 28” site is the same site as USGS gage 050457000 (Hydstra ID E48020001), this site is a Major Watershed site for the Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network (WPLMN). Minnesota Pollution Control Agency WPLMN staff currently collect water quality samples and do the data analysis for this site.
Turtle Creek at Co. 43 has been identified as an important subwatershed site for the WPLMN. The Cedar Creek Watershed District is currently collecting water quality samples at this site through June 30, 2013 after which MPCA’s WPLMN staff will continue to collect samples.
I don’t see any “final site locations” located in Dakota County in Appendix A of the RFP. We have multiple locations where high quality flow data are already being provided by the MNDNR and could be suitable for the WPLMN but are not included in Appendix A. These are located in the Vermillion River watershed (HUC 07040001). Would these sites be considered in this RFP? Also, would it be possible to partner with MNDNR to establish other high quality flow monitoring sites in other watersheds (Cannon River) and use the WPLMN to finance sample collections?
This RFP only allows monitoring at sites shown in the RFP, Appendix 1. Additional monitoring sites (water quality and stage/discharge) deemed necessary by local organizations will have to be funded through other sources.
If our staff use their own vehicles and have their own insurance are we required to purchase Commercial Automobile Liability Insurance as noted on page 9 of the RFP. If we are required to purchase this insurance can the cost be included in the grant budget proposal?
Non-LGU applicants (including subcontractors) are required to meet all listed insurance requirements. Actual insurance costs are an eligible expense (RFP, page 3) and should be included in the hourly rate in a budget proposal.
As per Addendum 2, revision 2, Local Government Units (LGUs) are “required to submit acceptable evidence of insurance coverage requirements prior to commencing work under the Agreement and in accordance with the Tort Claims Act as stated in Minnesota Statutes §466.04.”
Is the date Sept 1 correct for submitting load calculation data? If we are sampling through October that doesn't seem correct.
Load calculations are due September 1 for data collected the previous year (as you indicated, sampling wouldn’t be done for the current year); for example, 2012 load calculations are due September 1, 2013 (RFP, page 3).
If we use the MDH lab for sample analysis do we need to include lab analysis costs in the budget as MPCA has a contract with the MDH lab?
Yes, lab costs need to be included in the budget regardless of the lab used.
My organization is currently working with the MPCA to monitor one of the sites (Cannon River at Morristown) as support for Stressor ID locations in the Cannon watershed. That contract goes through June of 2013. Should we use up the Stressor ID project funds first then transition this site to WPLMN if we are awarded the contract. How should we reflect that in the grant application?
If you apply, please list the full number of samples needed per year at that site.
I am working with Cottonwood SWCD currently, which is also a part of GBERBA (the Greater Blue Earth River Basin Association), it seems like GBERBA would be a better fit for this grant. Does that make sense to you as well?
While either entity may be eligible for the grant, the decision about who will apply is up to the applicant.
The person who would be doing the sampling has not been hired yet, the title would be [location] Technician. Can I fill out the application with that as the name of the person, and then how would I manage the personal experience segments?
You must provide a complete application as listed on page 9 of the RFP. The complete application will be the subject of the evaluation criteria (RFP, page 10). A generic title can be used, but personal experience can only be described for actual staff or subcontractors that will be responsible for the activities listed.
Where and how do I determine the listing for the accepted consultants, and the accepted labs?
There is no list for accepted consultants in the RFP, but there is a list of eligible applicants on page 3 of the RFP. The list of eligible labs can be found in the drop down menu in the application (Attachment C) under Question 2e and on the MPCA’s Sampling and Laboratory Analysis Services – Environmental Master Contract which can be found here: http://www.mmd.admin.state.mn.us/pdf/S-792(5).pdf
Do you know whether the sampling regime is intended for a schedule such as every other week, and then once after a storm event, or more often during a storm event? Also, is sampling done during a regular season, such as May thru October, or year-round?
On page 2 of the RFP, Tasks 1-6 describe the type of monitoring required for this grant. There is not a set schedule for monitoring such as weekly or monthly. Water samples should be collected in response to rainfall and snowmelt events.
Can we apply to do just the sampling…and leave the FLUX work for PCA staff to calculate…or a sub-contractor for that matter?
If you apply, please provide a complete application as listed on page 9 of the RFP. The complete application will be the subject of the evaluation criteria (RFP, page 10).
It is important to note the ranking criterion on page 10 of the RFP specifies: “Experience in water quality modeling with the FLUX or FLUX32 model to perform pollutant load calculations.” An application that does not include load calculations may not score as high as applications with that component. Subcontracting is permitted in this RFP (page 4).
If we’re using the MDH lab do we need to incorporate analysis costs into the budget, or will that come from a different pot of money that PCA has set aside for lab costs with MDH?
See Question/Answer #5.
I see this money is from the Legacy Amendment – Clean Water Fund. [Our educational institution] typically follows the policy of charging “indirects” on contracts and grants. I was reviewing the eligible and ineligible costs section, but I still don’t feel that I have a solid answer. In other Amendment funded contracts, we were not able to charge indirects. We are able to apply for grants and contracts that don’t allow indirects, but we need to provide documentation that indirects are directly prohibited by the grant agency.
Clean Water Funds under this RFP must not be spent on indirect costs or other institutional overhead charges that are not directly related to and necessary for a specific project. “Indirect” costs that are directly related to and necessary for the project must be included within the hourly rate for persons assigned to this project.
Is there any sort of a budget for this RFP for site, or should [our educational institution] bid based on the cost of a FTE and admin for our organization.
There is not a budget figured per site for this RFP. An Applicant’s budget should determine the costs needed to conduct the work specified in the RFP and detail the costs in the application and budget.
Is the “final progress report” the same thing as the “Final Report.” Pages 1 and 2 of the Sample Grant Contract, states on page 1 the final progress report should be submitted…..by February 1, 2015. Also, regarding the statement on page 2 of the Sample Grant Contract (Revised Attachment B, dated October 11, 2012): “if the final report is not received…by June 30, 2015?” – If the Grant Contract goes through June 30, 2015, why would the final report be due in February?
Yes, the “final progress report” and “Final report” are the same document. (See Addendum, revision 5). For consistency, the deadline for reports (interim and final) in the RFP is February 1. The expiration of a contract is subject to the terms of the Sample Grant Contract (Revised Attachment B, dated October 11, 2012), page 1, section “Term of Grant Contract,” section “Expiration date.”
Why do you need such a detailed map when you have predetermined where the monitoring sites are located?
It is important for the grantees to understand where the monitoring sites are located in relation to each other.
The application states” you can simply copy the sites they wish to monitor from Appendix A in the RFP and paste them directly into the application”, however, the field sizes in the Application are not the same size as the field sizes in the RFP and it states (on page 9 and again on page 11 of RFP) no fields may be altered or the application could be dismissed or not accepted.
It is preferred that you copy and paste the information into the table in order to eliminate transposing errors even if the cell sizes are not the same. In this instance, adjusting the cell sizes top match would be acceptable and applications would not be dismissed for this adjustment.
Why are required insurance coverages at $2,000,000 rather than $1,000,000 for Commercial General Liability Insurance and Commercial Automobile Liability Insurance?
These are standard insurance coverage levels established by the State of Minnesota, but see Question/Answer #3.
Do you realize the 10% samples for QA/QC will cost about $20,000 of the $700,000 available?
Yes. It is important to collect field duplicates and field blanks in order to determine the quality of the field and lab sampling and procedures. This is definitely an added cost but an important cost in order to produce high-quality data.
For the Training expenses for the sampler and back up sampler -- to budget this we need to know, how often and the cost of this training?
Training costs should be based on how much training the applicant believes it needs to accomplish the activities supported by this RFP (RFP, page 2).
Is using an eligible lab considered “subcontracting?” If it is does the lab have to provide us with their insurance information also?
This is not subcontracting. Required labs are on a state contract and insurance information has already been provided to the State of Minnesota.
On page 3 of 15 of the RFP you state “it is preferable to have no more than four grant contacts for the Minnesota River basin and three grant contracts for the Lower Mississippi River basin. This equals 7 contracts, and since there is only $700,000 available, do you think $700,000 is a large enough pot of money to accomplish what you are requesting?
We expect to accomplish the tasks and activities outlined in the RFP with the budgeted amount. Page 1 of the RFP states that there is $700,000 available during this grant round.
From the page 12 of the RFP:
“Execution of Grant Contract
The estimated start date of the project is January 15, 2013 or the date the State obtains all required signatures under Minnesota Statutes Section 16C.05, subdivision 2, whichever is later. The end date of the Grant Contract will be no later than June 30, 2015.”
So the length of the contract is 2.5 years? Should I be planning for monitoring for 2.5 years, with the idea that the last year will end midway through the season, but may have around a half year worth of samples (12-13 at intermediate, 17-18 and Majors)? Or should I just plan on 2 years of sample collection.
For example: Minnesota River at Judson Site -
2013 – 35 samples
2014 – 35 samples
2015 -18 samples
The grant should cover sampling in calendar years 2013 and 2014 only because those are the only full years during the grant round (RFP, page 1). No sampling should be included in this contract for 2015.
Finalized October 16, 2012
For any additional questions regarding Watershed Pollutant Load Monitoring Network Sampling Grants, please contact Pat Baskfield at 507-344-5240 or 800-657-3864.