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DWR announces $6 million to support desalination projects

  • DWR announces $6 million to support desalination projects
    Image of the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant in Santa Barbara, California, which helps improve water reliability and resiliency for the City during the drought years.

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California Department of Water Resources
Established in 1956 by the California State Legislature, DWR protects, conserves, develops, and manages much of California's water supply. This includes the State Water Project (SWP), the nation’s largest state-built water conveyance program.

As California faces a hotter, drier future and ongoing extreme drought conditions, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) is offering $6 million in financial assistance to support desalination projects that will help develop new sources of local water supplies in California.

Funded by Proposition 1, the Water Desalination Grant Program is offering $6 million to support construction and design pilot projects that desalinate naturally occurring brackish and ocean water for potable water supply. Desalination is the process of removing salts and minerals from brackish water and seawater to produce water suitable for consumption, irrigation, and other supply needs.

“Desalination remains a critical water supply source in communities where traditional water supplies are limited,” said Karla Nemeth, DWR Director. “California faces a range of water supply challenges and climate change continues to intensify impacts and weather extremes. Our priority is building water resilience through a set of actions that will prepare our water systems to support our growing state in a hotter, drier climate.”

Funding request applications must be submitted by October 5 using DWR’s online submittal tool, GRanTS. DWR expects to announce the final awards in February 2023. Eligible applicants include public agencies, mutual water companies, nonprofit organizations, and Tribes. Interested parties can find more information about the funding and eligibility requirements in the Proposal Solicitation Package.

This funding supports actions identified in the Governor’s recently announced strategy document, “California’s Water Supply Strategy, Adapting to a Hotter, Drier Future.” The strategy outlines a series of proposed actions to help replenish our state’s water supply and make our system more resilient, which includes capturing stormwater and desalinating ocean and salty water to help diversify supplies.

To date, DWR has awarded over $81 million in Proposition 1 desalination grants ranging from over $100,000 to $10 million to 17 projects. In addition to supporting local desalination efforts, DWR contributed $16 million to the National Alliance for Water Innovation (NAWI) in 2021 to help advance desalination research. Led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NAWI and its team of 180 institutions are conducting a five-year research project to lower the cost and energy required for desalination. The research will also improve brine management, increase longevity of system components, and develop methods to optimize operational efficiency. It is hoped that the benefits realized in the desalination industry will support other industrial sectors.

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