DWR Awards $150M
Last updated 5/16/2022 at 10:01am
Supporting communities that rely on groundwater...
In an effort to boost water supply reliability for millions of Californians, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) today announced its first round of funding to 20 agencies responsible for managing critically overdrafted groundwater basins throughout the state.
A total of $150 million in funding is being awarded to regional groundwater agencies through the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program. The funding will go toward projects focused on water efficiency, groundwater recharge, feasibility studies for alternative water supplies, and the installation of monitoring wells. The grant funding is made possible by a $171 million investment from the Budget Act of 2021, and will support other benefits such as improving drinking water quality and restoring habitat.
“Groundwater is a critical lifeline for millions of Californians and that is especially true during severe droughts like the one we’re experiencing right now,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “We are dealing with the real-time impacts of a warming climate, and we know that less snowpack, precipitation, and surface water supply will lead to an increased reliance on groundwater. This first round of grant funding will help strengthen groundwater management, improve the reliability of those supplies statewide and ensure access to safe and clean water for all Californians.”
This funding will support 119 individual projects across 20 groundwater basins, with 102 of those projects benefitting underrepresented or severely disadvantaged communities including Tribes. In addition to developing projects, the grant funding will help groundwater sustainability agencies revise their existing groundwater sustainability plans or plan alternatives.
Several non-governmental organizations in the state will partner with the GSAs to help implement these projects, including the Central Coast Wetlands Group, Stanford Foundation, River Partners, Sustainable Conservation, Self-Help Enterprises, Sequoia River Alliance Trust, Tulare Basin Watershed Partnership, California Partnership, and Borrego Valley Stewardship Council. DWR encourages these types of partnerships, which helps meet the intent of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), and is working to provide tools and resources to strengthen such collaboration through a complementary effort called the SGM Grant Program’s Underrepresented Community Technical Assistance Program.
California is home to 515 groundwater basins, with the majority of residents relying on groundwater for some portion of their water supply. During dry years, groundwater contributes up to 60 percent of the statewide annual supply and serves as a critical buffer against the impacts of Drought and climate change. The SGM Grant Program will provide additional support for groundwater basins through a second funding solicitation later this fall, which will offer more than $200 million for planning efforts and projects in medium and high priority groundwater basins to help local agencies reach their groundwater sustainability goals under SGMA. Critically overdrafted basins that received funding in the first round will also be eligible to apply for funding in the next round.