Press Release provided by the California Department of Water Resources
With California experiencing extreme storm events like those seen in January amid extreme drought conditions, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $15 million to support projects in the San Joaquin Valley through the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Program.
The awards will provide critical funding support to implement innovative, multi-benefit projects for climate and water supply resilience as California is faced with extreme weather driven by climate change. This includes using stormwater capture to recharge the state’s critically strained groundwater basins.
“While the recent storms in California helped ease drought impacts in parts of California, many rural areas that rely on groundwater like in Fresno and Kern counties are still experiencing water supply shortages,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Today’s funding will help improve water supply reliability and water quality in these communities while supporting groundwater recharge that reduces flood risk and enhances stormwater management.”
These grant awards help move the state towards its goal addressed in the Governor’s Water Supply Strategy: Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future of investing in projects across California to funnel flood flows into groundwater recharge projects and stormwater capture infrastructure.
A full list of projects can be viewed here. Some of the awarded projects will achieve benefits including:
• Water Supply Reliability: The City of Bakersfield will partner with the Rainbird Valley Mutual Water Company to provide 1,900 acre-feet per year of clean drinking water to 85 service connections and 238 people in severely disadvantaged communities. The Kings Basin Water Authority and the City of Bakersfield both will use funding to implement projects that increase water supply reliability through well rehabilitation, weir infrastructure improvements and pipeline construction.
• Stormwater Capture and Groundwater Recharge: The Pixley Irrigation District will construct a new 5.5-mile-long canal to provide surface water for irrigation to approximately 5,500 acres of land that currently rely on groundwater as the only source of water. The project will increase flood protection for downstream infrastructure, crops and more than 1,000 residents of the community of Alpaugh, while also capturing flood water when available for recharge.
The Kings Basin Water Authority and City of Bakersfield also received funding to increase stormwater storage, improve flood protection and pump surface water into basins in the disadvantaged community of Parlier. Another project will deliver surface water to landowners in the cities of Arvin, Edison and surrounding communities that currently rely on groundwater supplies to meet their agricultural and drinking water demands. The project will reduce groundwater pumping and provide indirect recharge to the underground aquifer.
• Water Conservation: To help meet the State of California’s requirement to have all customer water service connections metered by 2025, the City of Bakersfield received funding to install 6,500 meters at remaining unmetered service connections in the area.
Financed by voter-approved Proposition 1, the IRWM program has awarded more than $1.7 billion throughout California, which has been matched by $5.6 billion in local investments to help implement over 1,300 projects that foster climate resilience by mitigating drought impacts, improving water supply reliability, reducing flood and fire risk, increasing water storage and improving water quality.
2022 marked the 20th anniversary of the IRWM program, which was established in 2002 by the passage of AB 1672, the IRWM Planning Act. The Act called for collaborative regional partnerships and development of IRWM Plans to identify local water challenges and projects to provide multi-benefit solutions. DWR will be releasing a video in March to highlight the accomplishments of the program, with special emphasis on the climate resilience, equity and watershed solutions that have resulted across the state.
The program is one of several financial assistance programs under DWR’s emerging “Go Golden” program, which is a statewide effort designed to help large organizations, water agencies and communities build long-term water conservation and water resilience planning. The “Go Golden” program includes previously funded projects through the Small Community Drought Relief program and Urban Community Drought Relief program. Interested parties can stay up to date with the latest Go Golden announcements and news through DWR’s email subscription list.
With a shifting climate making swings between drought and flood more extreme, we must implement new programs to manage water in our new climate reality. Californians should continue to use water wisely indoors and outdoors so that we can have a thriving economy, community and environment. For tips on how to conserve water, visit SaveOurWater.com.
For more information about upcoming grant opportunities, visit DWR’s Grants and Loans webpage.