To help empower local communities and address impacts caused by climate change, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) has awarded $143.7 million to implement 115 projects that support groundwater recharge, strengthen flood management, increase water conservation and improve water quality through the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) program.
“California’s changing climate presents unique challenges to our regions across the state,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “These projects meet multiple needs including constructing new water infrastructure, improving water quality, protecting wildlife and preparing for a hotter and drier future. Equally important, they leverage local, federal and other state dollars to help ensure water security for all Californians is affordable.”
Proposition 1 funding totaling $143.7 million will be allocated to projects in the funding areas of Central Coast, Colorado River, Los Angeles, Mountain Counties, North Coast, North/South Lahontan, Sacramento River, Santa Ana, San Diego and San Francisco Bay Area.
This amount includes $59 million to implement projects in underserved communities and $4 million for Tribes. Funded projects include:
- In the Central Coast area, the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District will receive approximately $900,000 to restore more than 120 acres of floodplain near the south Carmel River and remove more than 100 properties from the 100-year flood zone. The San Benito County Water District also received $900,000 to construct a managed aquifer recharge basin in the Pajaro River watershed to infiltrate 100 acre-feet per year of stormwater and supply an estimated annual average of 2,060 acre-feet per year of new water supply.
- In the Colorado River area, the City of Banning in the San Gorgonio IRWM region will receive $964,324 to improve an existing water line within the rural underserved community of Twin Pines. The project will provide an adequate and reliable water supply to customers in the Twin Pines portion of the service area for drinking water and fire protection purposes.
- In the Lahontan area, the Honey Lake Valley Resource Conservation District will receive $808,581 to rehabilitate an existing wooden dam. The project will reduce flood risk for approximately 5,500 acres of both upstream property and downstream areas in a flood event. The region will also receive $587,578 to install a new pipeline to convey recycled water. The project will reduce potable water demand by 47 acre-feet of water per year by providing a long-term, droughtproof local water supply.
- In the Los Angeles area, the Los Angeles County Flood Control District will receive $3.4 million to extend the recycled water system in the City of Bell Gardens and the City of Downey to provide recycled water for irrigation of parks serving disadvantaged communities.
- In the San Diego region, the South Orange County Watershed Management Area will receive $1.2 million to capture stormwater and dry-weather runoff from a 109-acre tributary drainage area. The project includes construction of a diversion structure from the existing storm drain line, a trash separator and an infiltration basin.
- In the Santa Ana region, the Santa Ana Watershed Protection Authority will receive $315,000 to address water quality in a historically underserved area by removing lead service lines and fittings. The project will replace approximately 4,100 lead lines and will provide approximately 3,450 acre-feet per year of safe water.
- In the San Francisco Bay Area region, the Association of Bay Area Governments will receive $1.5 million to install multi-benefit projects at up to four school sites located within underserved areas in Petaluma – building drought resilience, creating habitat and providing living learning landscapes for students and community engagement.
- In the Mountain Counties region, the Sierra Resources Conservation District will receive $500,000 to restore the health of fire-affected regions of Big Dry Creek and Jose Creek Watersheds of the upper San Joaquin River. The work includes removal of dead and dying trees, erosion mitigation, habitat improvements, and reforestation to support water quality and supplies for local and downstream uses.
- In the North Coast area, the Karuk Tribe will receive $1.2 million to create 290 acres of habitat and improve streams to restore water quality for Chinook Salmon and other wildlife.
- In the Sacramento River region, Trout Unlimited - South Coast 923 will receive $455,750 to improve water storage outcomes by naturally engineering solutions to increase water storage and provide late-season water releases in a warming climate using both Traditional Ecological Knowledge and current scientific methods. The project will benefit the Winnemum Wintu Tribe and the Pit River Tribe.
The IRWM program marked its 20th anniversary in 2022, having been established in 2002 by the passage of Assembly Bill 1672, the IRWM Planning Act. Unlike previous strategies that took a narrow approach to water management, IRWM encourages participation from regional leadership and local participants to share different resources and information to increase awareness about the health of a watershed. In the past three years, DWR has awarded $268 million to communities including $15 million to the Central Valley earlier this year, $43 million in 2022 and $211 million to 42 IRWM regions including approximately $53 million for projects benefiting disadvantaged communities.
“For 20 years, the IRWM program has been successful in addressing diverse, local water issues by incentivizing and nurturing collaborative partnerships between groups that historically may not have worked together,” said Nemeth.