Watershed contracts

The MPCA’s Watershed Program provides funding to local partners for watershed restoration and protection strategy development projects. Funding is generated through the Clean Water Land and Legacy Amendment. These Clean Water Funds are available for watershed projects that develop strategies to protect, enhance and restore the surface waters of the state, including Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) development and implementation planning activities. Project selection is based primarily on the following criteria:

  • Watershed approach 10-year cycle
  • Readiness of local partner
  • MPCA and local capacity

Project selection and contracting

MPCA staff, including the watershed project manager and the contract specialist, will work with local partners to determine the appropriate contract type for your specific project. Typically the contracting process includes the local government passing a resolution authorizing them to enter into the contract along with naming a project representative. Work plan development, review, approval and contract execution can take up to two months, or longer. It is important that project managers and local partners start the project conversation early and follow the work plan development guidance. The state cannot pay for any costs incurred prior to execution of the contract or after the end date of the contract. The executed contract will include specific terms and conditions, therefore it is important that you read and understand your contract.

Who's eligible?

  • local governmental units
  • soil and water conservation districts
  • watershed districts
  • watershed management organizations
  • nonprofits
  • educational institutions
  • environmental consultants
  • state agencies

PDF icon Procedures for selecting local governmental units to lead watershed projects

Types of contracts

Master contract

The MPCA works with contractors, selected through an RFP process, who can perform a wide range of technical services, including developing Total Maximum Daily Loads, stressor identification, modeling, and other work associated with watershed projects. The Watershed Restoration and Protection (WRAP) Projects Master Contract includes eight master contractors:

  • Barr Engineering
  • Emmons and Olivier
  • Houston Engineering
  • Limno Tech
  • Tetra Tech
  • Wenck
  • Aqua Terra (modeling only)
  • RESPEC (modeling only)

For more information, contact Mary Heininger at 651-757-2418.

Joint powers agreements

Joint powers agreements are contracts between the MPCA and governmental units such as cities, counties, watershed management organizations, watershed districts, and soil and water conservation districts. More information about these funding opportunities is available in the fact sheet below.

Interagency agreements

Interagency agreements are contracts between the MPCA and other state agencies.

Other contract needs

Request for Proposals

An RFP is a formal invitation to potential contractors to submit a proposal to provide the requested services. The RFP is a competitive process where the state can rank the contractor's experience, qualifications, cost, and approach to provide the best services for the state's needs. The watershed project manager and contract specialist will determine whether a RFP process is needed before a contract and work planning begin.

This guidance is for the development of MPCA Watershed Program work plans that are to be incorporated into a contract with the MPCA, specifically for work performed by our local partners (and their subcontractors) for watershed restoration and protection development work funded by the Clean Water Fund. The intended audience is watershed project managers and our local partners. It outlines what program elements are required within a work plan to be approved by the MPCA and is a companion document to the agency-wide contracting work plan, budget and Gantt chart templates available below. This agency-wide work plan template is to be used as a form and includes instructions with some examples within it. Below is additional information and resources to assist you in the development of watershed program work plans.

Work plan scope

Overall, the work plan needs to provide a detailed scope of work with clearly defined goals, objectives, tasks; how and when the work will be done; who is responsible for doing it; and expected work costs. If the nature and scope of later elements is dependent upon the outcome of earlier elements, then the work should be broken up into separate phases with separate work plans. An example would be a stressor identification process being conducted as phase 1 (which determines whether a pollutant is responsible for the impairment) and phase 2 being a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the specific pollutant(s) identified.

Work plan contents

When developing a project work plan the MPCA work plan and budget templates must be used. Each new work plan should be created using the templates from this website as they will be updated and kept current. These templates have been designed to provide consistent work plans and should not be altered.

When drafting the work plan do not use underlines, as these are reserved for use in amended versions of work plans to indicate changes. Also, spell out acronyms the first time they appear in the work plan and review for typos and errors. A work plan serves as a road map for a project and anyone unfamiliar with the work should be able to pick up the document and have a clear understanding of overall expectations. When the work plan draft is completed, the MPCA project manager will initiate the work plan review and approval process using an internal routing checklist.

Key work plan requirements

(Always refer to the Work Plan Template for the most up-to-date content requirements)

Project summary

Includes the title and contact information for MPCA and partners, along with location of the project.

Statement of problems and existing conditions

A succinct statement of the problem being addressed by the work plan being developed. Why do you need the funds you are acquiring? Include a reference to the Clean Water Act, Clean Water Legacy Act and MPCA Watershed Program to establish the mandate, jurisdiction, and policy foundation for a legislative auditor. Be sure to consider both the biophysical and human dimensions of the project. For example, include a statement like: The project provides an opportunity to assess and leverage the capacity for the local community to engage in the process of watershed management and to adopt protection and restoration practices.

Goals, objectives, tasks, and sub-tasks

This part, in conjunction with the budget, is the heart of the work plan. It is important to follow this goal / objective / task / sub-task framework, though for some work plans it may be adequate to only go down as far as the task level.

For each task indicate what will be accomplished and the purpose / justification for it. In addition to providing enough detail to indicate what will be accomplished, the description needs to substantiate the requested cost/hours in the accompanying budget table for that task. Work plans with lump sums or blocks of hours are unacceptable.

Include tasks in your work plan to prepare two semi-annual reports each year due February 1st and August 1st that include an update on the tasks and activities identified in the work plan that have been completed, progress towards producing deliverables and reaching stated outcomes and an update on the budget and modifications to the timeline. See [link below] for the form to use. Also, include as tasks a final progress report using the CWP, 319, and TMDL final report format that includes a final financial report:

Measurable outcomes

All projects receiving funding must include proposed measurable outcomes, which is defined in statute as "outcomes, indicators, or other performance measures that may be quantified or otherwise measured in order to measure the effectiveness of a project or program in meeting its intended goal or purpose."(Minn. Stat 3.303, 10b) These are different than the project's deliverables in so far as the focus is on the outcomes of delivering the products and services produced to the targeted audiences. Rather than deliverables, the focus of the measurable outcomes is on changes in knowledge, skills, ability, attitudes (KSAA) and practices (both environmental civic practices). Here are some examples of outcomes for a work plan whose concern is primarily diagnostic for biophysical and/or human dimensions of the watershed:

  • Agency staff and local partners understand the status of the biophysical attributes being monitored.
  • Agency staff and local partners are able to progress to the stressor identification work through application of findings from an assessment and analysis of biophysical attributes characterized during monitoring events."
  • Agency staff, local partners and citizen volunteers understand the personal sense of responsibility the members of the community of interest have for the consequences of watershed management.
  • Agency staff, local partners and citizen volunteers are able to integrate the results of the biophysical and community assessment into strategies for the watershed comprehensive restoration and protection plan.
  • Local organizations modify programs (i.e., practices) to account for findings from a community assessment [a more specific example would tag on language like: that point to a need for better transboundary coordination with clear objective, roles and responsibilities.].
  • Civic engagement event "A" increase the awareness of and concern about consequences of watershed management practices among the targeted audience by 15% over initial levels.

Gantt chart (project timeline) and project budget

Attachment 1: The Gantt chart graphically displays the work plan project objectives, tasks, and time needed (by month) to complete these items. This chart should also include the due dates for any deliverables or other products listed in the objectives and tasks. Make sure tasks are easily referenced to the tasks in the narrative of the work plan, ensuring titles and naming are consistent throughout. Allow for enough time for tasks to be completed to avoid the need for multiple change orders, which are required if the schedule for a task needs to be changed. In addition, this chart should include due dates for periodic progress reports and other required submittals.

Attachment 2: Project budget: Make sure to review the document referenced pertaining to Eligible and Ineligible Expenses prior to finalizing the budget table. In addition to the guidelines provided in the work plan template please note the following additional considerations:

The 2011 Legislature, during the Special Session, modified accountability and reporting requirements for entities receiving Clean Water Funds

  • Detailed information for each funded project must be provided, including the number of Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) funded, amount and source of funding, including leverage, and the direct expenses and administrative costs. This means that all in-kind hours must be detailed and associated with a cost;
    • 1 person working full time = 1 FTE
    • Divide the project's total number of labor hours for one year by 2088, this is your FTEs.
  • It also indicates that these funds must not be spent on indirect costs or other institutional overhead charges that are not directly related to and necessary for a specific appropriation (MN Laws 2011, 1st Special Session chapter 6, article 2, section 2, subd. 2).
    • Watershed projects can request reimbursement for staff salaries and directly related expenses for the time they have spent working on the watershed project during the executed contract period. We cannot pay for salary costs greater than those actually paid to the staff doing the work. Also, staff appropriate to the task should be doing the work, i.e., clerical staff doing clerical work, technical staff doing technical work, etc. The law also states that "Future eligibility for money from the clean water fund is contingent upon a state agency or other recipient satisfying all applicable requirements in this section, as well as any additional requirements contained in applicable session law." (MN Laws 2011, 1st Special Session chapter 6, article 5, section 4)
    • Mileage, and per diem. Only expenses that are detailed in the contract may be reimbursed. The Commissioner's Plan is commonly referenced in contracts and expenses typically may not exceed these amounts. See the Commissioner's Plan at Admin Minnesota's Materials Management Division. For mileage you must indicate the number of miles, mileage rate and total.
    • Any subcontracts awarded to environmental consultants who are part of the WRAP Master Contract should not include any hourly rates in excess of WRAP Master Contractor rates (available upon request).

This guidance is not intended to be technical guidance for completing WRAP projects or its components (e.g., monitoring plans, data inventorying, TMDLs, etc. See below). You should refer to the various technical guidance, protocols, and policies, etc. and work with your MPCA project manager. Please note that watershed projects are all very different in terms of numbers and types of water bodies, impairment status (impaired, unimpaired, unassessed), land cover / use, extent of existing data / information / tools, local capacity, stakeholder interest and any number of unique technical or nontechnical challenges. Also, some work plans will be very comprehensive in scope and some may be limited to one or a few aspects of the larger project (with MPCA staff and/or MPCA-hired contractors completing other tasks). Thus, we really cannot create a "cookbook" for this kind of work, nor for many tasks can we expect to just "cut-and-paste" from other work plans done elsewhere. It will take communication among the key participants in the project to determine an overall plan for the project focusing on the specific project goals and objectives and the tasks to be performed to achieve the desired goals of the project.

Additional resources for technical guidance for watershed projects

Civic engagement: Civic engagement in watershed projects

Stormwater: Stormwater Programs and Impaired Waters

Wastewater: PDF icon Total Daily Maximum Load (TMDL) Guidance

Protocols for TMDL development TMDL policy and guidance

Implementation Plan Guidance: Stormwater Programs and Impaired WatersPre-TMDL Phosphorus Permitting: A draft guidance for issuing water quality permits for discharge to impaired waters.

TMDL training

Invoicing and payment

Payment for CWF projects is made by reimbursement for actual expenses incurred. Project sponsors should refer to the language in their specific contract document regarding invoicing and payment schedules. Project sponsors submit their invoices to the MPCA’s Accounts Payable Unit. The Accounts Payable Unit logs receipt of all invoices and then forwards them to the MPCA project manager for review and approval prior to payment. Typically, project sponsors will submit invoices electronically or by mail on a monthly or quarterly basis. Most payments are made by electronic funds transfer.

The required elements of an invoice include

  • MPCA contract number and purchase order number, project ID, and project name
  • Name of MPCA project manager
  • Invoice period (see contract for required invoicing frequency)
  • Total invoice amount
  • A description of the work performed during the invoice period that aligns with objectives/tasks from the project work plan
  • An invoice budget table with the following information:
    • Approved total objective amounts
    • Objective level total previous expenditures
    • Objective level current expenditures
    • Objective level balance remaining
    • Approved total contract amount
    • Contract level total previous expenditures
    • Contract level current expenditures
    • Contract level balance remaining
    • Current invoice total

For master contract work order invoicing requirements, see section 30 of the master contract. Contact Mary Heininger (651-757-2418) with questions.

Change orders and amendments

A well-constructed work plan with a clearly defined scope should minimize the need for revisions along the way. However, we recognize that not all aspects of a project can be anticipated and that problems and delays will arise. Refer to your contract for the terms and conditions for change orders and amendments. A change order is a contract mechanism and document that can be used in certain instances to document minor changes in the contract work plan and budget. Change orders are not allowed unless a change order clause was included in the original contract. Change order language may vary from contract to contract, so it is important to review and understand your specific language. If there is a change in scope, project end date or cost, a contract amendment is required. Your MPCA project manager and/or contract specialist will help you determine if a change order or amendment to the contract is necessary.

Reporting requirements

Semi-annual progress reports are due to your MPCA project manager, with all final edits, by February 1 and August 1,

throughout the entire span of a project's contract. The January 1–June 30 reporting period will be covered in the August 1 semi-annual progress report, and the July 1–December 31 reporting period will be covered in the February 1st semi-annual progress report. Semi-annual progress reports must be submitted using the template provided by the MPCA. A final project report is due to your MPCA project manager no later than 30 days after the expiration of the project contract. The final report must address all the required elements outlined in the format Failure to submit semi-annual or final progress reports by due dates may result in withheld or denied payments. The final 10% retainage will be paid upon approval of the final report. Refer to your contract for the terms and conditions for reporting and payments.

Semi-annual budgeting and reporting forms

Surface Water Data Submittal, Review and Reports

Microsoft Office document icon MPCA Final Report Guidance

For general questions about MPCA watershed program funding

Pete Fastner, MPCA
651-757-2349
peter.fastner@state.mn.us

For general questions about MPCA contracting

Tracey Josephson, MPCA
651-757-2477
tracey.josephson@state.mn.us

Mary Heininger, MPCA
651-757-2418
mary.heininger@state.mn.us

For specific questions pertaining to your organization’s contracts with the MPCA, please contact your individual MPCA project manager at their office below: