Press Release provided by California Department of Water Resources
As California prepares for extreme drought to extend into a fourth year, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is gearing up to provide $510 million in financial assistance to help communities, water agencies, and farmers prepare for a hotter and drier future.
“All communities are impacted by climate change and several years of extreme drought conditions. California is moving aggressively to transform the way we use and manage water so we can thrive in a hotter, drier future,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Thanks to the leadership of Governor Newsom and the state Legislature, we are deploying much-needed funding to support communities, farmers and wildlife as we stretch existing supplies and build climate resilience.”
DWR’s funding efforts include:
$300 Million in Financial Assistance for Water Infrastructure Improvements, Yard Transformation, and Improving Water Supply Reliability
DWR is offering $300 million through the 2022 Urban Community Drought Relief Grant Program under a new “Go Golden” program that provides financial assistance and resources to help large organizations, water agencies and communities build resilience, replace thirsty lawns with California native landscaping and promote water conservation as the golden standard of life.
This financial assistance supports projects that build climate resiliency and emphasize water conservation efforts. This follows the award of $268 million under DWR’s 2021 Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief program. Eligible projects include water infrastructure repairs, water conservation programs such as yard transformation, well rehabilitation, emergency water interties, and fish and wildlife protection. Approximately $85 million of the available funding will be set aside to support underrepresented communities and Tribes. Funding is also available for public agencies, public utilities, special districts, non-profit organizations, mutual water companies, colleges, and Integrated Regional Water Management groups.
The 2022 Urban Community Drought Relief program is one of DWR’s newest efforts to advance water conservation in the commercial, institutional, and industrial sector and in California’s communities. DWR will begin accepting applications on October 10 and interested parties can visit the 2022 Urban Community Drought Relief Funding webpage for more information about the program guidelines and additional resources. Communities with a failing drinking water supply should contact their county’s Office of Emergency Services for immediate assistance and emergency response to urgent drinking water needs. These contacts can then facilitate requests for state funding.
$10.7 Million in Financial Assistance is Available for Farmers to Support Water Conservation in the Delta and Aid Migratory Birds
DWR partnered with the Sacramento San-Joaquin Delta Conservancy to offer $10.7 million in the second round of funding through the Delta Drought Response Pilot Program. The program works with farmers in the Delta to implement measures expected to conserve water, protect Delta water quality, promote soil health, and mitigate drought impacts on fish and migratory birds.
The Central Valley is one of the major wintering grounds for migratory waterbirds, supporting wintering waterfowl and attracting millions of birds to seasonal marshes. With California’s extended drought and climate change resulting in less water and habitat for wildlife, farmers could receive a bonus of $75 per acre for short-term shallow flooding or $40 per acre for providing nesting habitat through delayed harvest. The Delta Conservancy will conduct the 2023 program through a reverse auction. Bids, which can be submitted through the Delta Conservancy’s website, will be accepted through October 18, 2022.
For questions about the Delta Drought Response Pilot Program and future solicitations, please contact the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy at Contact@DeltaConservancy.CA.gov.
$200 Million in Financial Assistance for Communities That Rely on Groundwater
California’s warming climate means that changes in precipitation, reduced snowpack, and the ongoing extreme drought are likely to increase the demand on groundwater sources, risking overdraft and decreased water quality. Understanding that many municipal, agricultural, and disadvantaged communities rely on groundwater for up to 100 percent of their water supply needs, DWR is offering $200 million in funding through a second solicitation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program. The funding will help regional groundwater agencies comply with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act and follows the release in May of $150 million to groundwater agencies in California’s 20 critically over-drafted basins.
The $200 million solicitation will support planning efforts and projects in medium and high-priority groundwater basins to help local agencies reach their groundwater sustainability goals. Eligible projects include groundwater recharge projects, projects that prevent or clean up contaminated groundwater supplies that serve as a source of drinking water, and other projects that support water supply reliability for people, farms, and the environment. The funding will also support revisions or updates to an existing groundwater sustainability plan (GSP) or Alternative to a GSP.
Visit the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant program webpage to view the program guidelines and additional resources.
In addition to the $510 million in grant funding announced today, DWR will also unveil a new program this fall to provide $50 million to protect drinking water wells in vulnerable communities. The program will create a financial incentive for farmers to temporarily fallow agricultural lands to reduce pressure on shallow drinking water wells and groundwater basins. The program will promote the acceleration of the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act. In the coming weeks, DWR will engage farmers, groundwater agencies, and other agricultural interests to roll out this program.
As California enters a possible fourth dry year, it is critical that we all do our part to use water wisely. Water conservation should continue into the fall even during possible rain events. More information and water-saving tips are available at SaveOurWater.com. For information about other DWR and State of California drought response efforts and funding programs, visit: Drought.CA.gov.