The Standards Oversight Council (SOC) is an inter-agency collaboration that facilitates a team approach in developing and maintaining technical standards for soil and water conservation practices in Wisconsin.
Technical standards, which are the focus of SOC’s work, are critical to soil and water conservation efforts in Wisconsin. These standards:
- Ensure uniformity in conservation work
- Minimize failure of installed practices
- Protect our natural resources
- Reduce risks, particularly to technical staff/agencies (liability), taxpayers (wasted grant funds), and landowners (liability/regulations/property damage)
- Ensure that landowners are fairly treated
Technical standards are incorporated into federal, state and local programs, applying to a range of persons including farmers. They may be voluntary or legally required such as in these cases:
- Referenced in an ordinance, administrative rule, statute or other form of law. Examples include:
- Required as a condition of eligibility receiving cost-share grants. Examples include:
- Imposed as a requirement as part of a court decision or settlement in a legal dispute. For example, the right to farm law.
What is a Technical Standard?
A technical standard is a document that specifies the minimum criteria for a conservation practice or system of practices to provide a predicted benefit to soil and water resources. The minimum criteria can include the following:
- Planning or Site Assessment Requirements
- Performance Expectations
- Design Parameters
- Operation and Maintenance
The above file contains a detailed description of each individual section within a technical standard.
In addition to formal standards issued by custodians, SOC may help develop supporting materials and documents used to ensure proper implementation of standards. The complexity of a standard and other factors will determine if and what kinds of supporting documents are needed. Companion documents are the main mechanisms that provide planning guidelines, design assistance, and specifics regarding standards. A technical note is a common companion document that may serve any of the above functions depending on the standard involved.