California Expedites Over $17 Million in Emergency Funding to Deliver Clean Drinking Water to Central Coast Communities


image of drinking water from a tap

Clean water from a treatment plant funded by DWR to help ensure water supply meets new State water quality standard.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today expedited $17 million in funding from its Urban Community Drought Relief Program to two underrepresented communities to support consolidation of 10 water systems and address water quality issues.

The funding will benefit communities in San Benito and Monterey Counties who rely almost solely on groundwater for their drinking water supply. The County of San Benito will receive $13.2 million to support the consolidation of four failing small water systems with the local urban water supplier, Sunnyslope Water District. In neighboring Monterey County, California Water Service will receive $4.2 million to consolidate six failing small water systems. All of the small water systems that will benefit from this funding are currently facing critical emergencies due to contaminated groundwater wells and groundwater supplies depleted by successive years of drought.

“Although many areas of the state are benefiting from this winter’s storms, there are communities simultaneously struggling with drought impacts, flood impacts and limited access to clean drinking water,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “Today’s funding will help invest in our underrepresented communities and ensure that they have access to clean, reliable drinking water supplies.”

While recent storms have improved surface water supplies, groundwater basins require more than one wet year to recover. In addition, the Central Coast region continues to experience severe flooding, which can further contaminate groundwater basins with stormwater runoff and pollutants.

“We are committed to protecting our customers’ health and safety, but not all communities have access to a clean, reliable water supply,” said Cal Water President and CEO Marty Kropelnicki. “We thank the Department of Water Resources for providing the funding to connect the struggling systems around Middlefield Road to our Cal Water Salinas system and make this important project a reality. We look forward to providing them the safe, reliable, affordable water supply everyone should have.”

“Water security is crucial to the success of or our rural communities. Sunnyslope Water District is committed to community partnerships that promote public health and water conservation. We are excited to be part of this effort to consolidate our neighboring community of Tres Pinos and the residents of Stonegate, to ensure safe, affordable drinking water can be sustained,” said Sunnyslope Water District General Manager Drew Lander.

Earlier this year, the 2022 Urban Community Drought Relief program delivered $46 million 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. Following today’s announcement, DWR plans to announce awards of the remaining grant funding in May 2023. A full list of all projects funded through DWR’s drought relief programs can be viewed here.

The program is one of several financial assistance programs under DWR’s emerging “Go Golden” initiative, which is a statewide effort designed to help organizations, water agencies and communities build long-term water conservation and water resilience planning. The “Go Golden” initiative 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.

For tips on how to conserve water, visit For information about other DWR and State of California drought response efforts and funding programs, visit

Allison Armstrong, Information Officer, Public Affairs, Department of Water Resources

916-820-7652 |