The Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced grant awards to nine projects in six counties through the Urban Community Drought Relief Grant program. The $46 million in financial assistance will provide critical support to implement drought relief projects that build long-term drought and climate resilience in communities across the State, and help advance efforts outlined in Governor Newsom’s strategy to adapt California’s water supply for a hotter and drier future.
While recent storms have improved conditions and helped fill many of the state’s reservoirs to average or above average levels, California may see a return to dry conditions in the months ahead, and much of the state continues to experience drought impacts following the three driest years on record.
“California is facing the real-time impacts of a changing climate, as evidenced by our state’s historic drought and recent flood emergency. Preparing for a future impacted by climate change not only means supporting new water supply efforts, but also strategies that capture excess flows during extreme wet events,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Today’s funding – with more than half invested in underrepresented communities – will help strengthen water supply reliability across the state by supporting recycled water and groundwater recharge infrastructure while promoting wise water use.”
The $46 million in financial assistance will advance projects that support:
Recycled Water: In Monterey County, the City of Soledad received $17 million for recycled water infrastructure. The project will extend the recycled water system to irrigate public schools and parks, replacing 180 acre-feet of groundwater.
Flood Risk Management/Groundwater Recharge: The Scotts Valley Water District received $1.6 million to recharge groundwater using treated stormwater. This project will help improve water supply reliability as well as reduce peak flows and flood risk in Carbonero Creek.
Improved Water Supply Reliability: In Ventura County, the Calleguas Municipal Water District received $4 million to construct a pipeline connection between the City of Ventura and the District’s water distribution systems. The connection will enable direct delivery water from the State Water Project to allow the city to deliver water to Calleguas during future imported water supply outages. The interconnection will also provide valuable infrastructure for improving water supply reliability by facilitating projects for potential future aquifer storage and recovery in the Oxnard Plain and Santa Paula Basins.
Yard Transformation: In Sacramento County, the Regional Water Authority received $3.1 million to fund an indoor fixture installment program for disadvantaged communities and a climate-resilient yard transformation program. The yard transformation program will reduce outdoor water use by providing rebates to residential, commercial and institutional properties, while the indoor fixture project will directly replace inefficient indoor fixtures in 5,060 multi-family and commercial/institutional properties.
In Riverside County, the Coachella Valley Water District received $5 million to support a regional yard transformation program that will provide lawn replacement rebates throughout the Coachella Valley for residential, multi-family commercial and municipal sites, as well as a direct installation of desert-friendly landscaping to replace lawns in the City of Indian Wells.
In San Diego County, the San Diego Water Authority also received $3 million to provide direct installation of high-efficiency toilets and smart irrigation controllers to underrepresented communities. Combined, these efforts are estimated to provide 1,323 acre-feet in water savings per year and transform up to 333,420 acres to more water efficient landscapes.
The 2022 Urban Community Drought Relief program is designed to address drought impacts in California’s communities while furthering water conservation. Of the total funding announced today, $28 million will advance drought relief projects to improve water supply reliability in underrepresented communities. A full list of the today’s awarded projects and all projects funded through DWR’s drought relief programs is available.
As part of this program, the State expedited $1.2 million in emergency funding to the City of Coalinga in November 2022 for an emergency water transfer to supply the community through the winter months. The city, located in Fresno County, had previously notified the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation that it could run out of water by December without additional supplies. DWR’s emergency funding helped eliminate the financial strain on the city and provided water for the community through February 2023, when further allocations from Reclamation will be available.
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 projects previously funded such as the Small Community Drought Relief program, and Integrated Regional Water Management program. Interested parties can stay up to date with the latest Go Golden announcements, updates and news through DWR’s email subscription list.
With a shifting climate making swings between drought and flood more extreme, California must continue to implement new programs to manage water in our new climate reality. Californians should continue to use water wisely indoors and outdoors so that our economy, community and environment will continue to thrive.