Connecting Waterpeople

DWR awards over $53 million for drought relief

  • DWR awards over $53 million for drought relief

About the entity

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.


The Department of Water Resources (DWR) released its first phase of awards to 20 projects through the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program. The funding awards will provide critical support to communities across the state dealing with the impacts of drought conditions.

Authorized by the Budget Act of 2021, the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program was allotted $200 million to assist communities facing the loss or contamination of their water supplies due to drought, help address immediate drought impacts on human health and safety, and protect fish and wildlife resources. Response to this grant program was overwhelming with over 147 projects submitted for funding in the first phase. Fourteen of the twenty projects awarded will benefit disadvantaged communities and Tribes.

“As we develop long-term strategies to address California’s changing climate and future dry conditions, we must take action now to assist local and regional agencies in managing through another historic drought,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “We remain committed to investing in our communities today to ensure a future built on safe and reliable water supplies and a healthy environment.”

Among the projects set to receive grant funding:

  • The City of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County will receive $8.8 million for structural lining and reconstruction of 9,250 feet of pipeline that supplies over half the water used by the city, which faced acute water supply challenges earlier this year. The project will strengthen resilience by ensuring reliable delivery of water during future drought events.
  • The Tuolumne Stanislaus Integrated Regional Water Management Authority will receive $1.1 million to construct a 400,000-gallon potable water storage tank that will provide water to 175 homes on the Tuolumne Rancheria of theTuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians.
  • The El Dorado Irrigation District will receive $10 million to construct an intertie between drinking water sources to increase system reliability in response to major impacts to its infrastructure by this year’s Caldor Fire.
  • In Sacramento County, the Regional Water Authority will receive $650,000 to complete planning for the Sacramento Regional Water Bank. This will be the first federally recognized water bank in the Sacramento Valley with an estimated 2 million acre-feet of available capacity.
  • The Western Municipal Water District in Riverside County will receive $1.7 million to construct a polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment system at the Western Water Recycling Facility. The project will allow recharge of 985 acre-feet of recycled water per year to the Arlington groundwater basin, which has declined by nearly 60 percent in the last 25 years.
  • The Merced Irrigation District will receive $4 million to upgrade a structural facility on Bear Creek to accommodate flood-managed aquifer recharge operations and increase flow capacity to accommodate future storms.

A full list of the 20 awarded projects can be viewed here.

DWR will continue to accept applications for the next phase of awards until midnight January 14. Due to high demand, applicants are encouraged to submit applications that satisfy all completeness, eligibility and technical review criteria, and are as responsive as possible to one or more of the three funding priorities. Funding is currently available for public agencies, public utilities, Tribes, special districts, non-profit organizations, mutual water companies, colleges, and regional water management groups. To date, the Department has received $850 million in project funding requests.

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