The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has awarded $187 million to 32 groundwater subbasins through the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program.
The funding will support 103 individual projects that enhance groundwater monitoring, water use efficiency, groundwater recharge, recycled water and water quality, including more than $160 million that will directly benefit Tribes and underrepresented communities. These efforts will help support local sustainable groundwater management and align with the Newsom Administration’s Adapting to a Hotter and Drier Water Supply Strategy, which builds a climate-ready and safe California that is resilient against climate-driven extremes like drought, flooding, heatwaves and wildfire.
“This water year has proved the importance of managing our groundwater to capture and store as much water as possible in our local communities to prepare for future weather extremes, while supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said DWR Sustainable Groundwater Management Deputy Director Paul Gosselin. “We look forward to working with our local partners to make the necessary investments to better manage, capture and store groundwater for future generations.”
California is home to 515 groundwater basins, a critical component of the state’s water supply, and is heavily relied upon by communities, agriculture and the environment, especially during dry and drought years. During the 2023 Water Year, DWR has determined an estimated 3.8 million acre-feet of water has been recharged; a clearer picture of the 2023 water year’s groundwater conditions will emerge after April 1, 2024, when annual reports are due from the local groundwater sustainability agencies to the State. While some groundwater basins will see benefits from groundwater recharge this year, many groundwater basins still have a long way to go to recover from past decades of drought and over-pumping.
The grant awards are distributed throughout the State, with the full list of awarded projects available here. Regions that will benefit from this funding include:
- In Alameda County, Zone 7 Water Agency will receive $16 million to support the permitting, design and construction of a well treatment facility to remove contaminants from the water supply. This funding will help to bring approximately 16 percent of the drinking water supply back online and benefit underrepresented communities in the area.
- In Merced County, the Merced Irrigation-Urban Groundwater Sustainability Agency will receive $3.4 million to execute two multi-benefit projects that fallow more than 1,300 acres of cropland, resulting in increased groundwater recharge, habitat enhancement and reduced flood risk for nearby underrepresented communities.
- In Riverside County, San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency will receive $2 million to install four groundwater monitoring wells that will help provide better data information for the area, which serves underrepresented communities. By accessing better data, communities can improve their understanding of local groundwater conditions to answer questions about water use and improve groundwater management.
- In San Benito County, San Benito County Water District will receive $11.5 million to expand and update the water treatment plant and construct five aquifer storage and recovery wells, as well as a conveyance pipeline for water. The project will help provide a resilient water supply for nearby underrepresented communities.
- In Santa Barbara County, Santa Ynez River Water Conservation District will receive $5.3 million to finance several studies and plans to identify areas for recycled water, increase groundwater recharge capacity and reduce demand on groundwater. All projects within the subbasin will benefit Tribes and underrepresented communities.
- In Stanislaus County, Oakdale Irrigation District will receive $14.3 million to expand an existing recharge facility and increase storage by 600 percent. The project will benefit underrepresented communities in the area.
- In Sutter County, Sutter County Development Services will receive $8.5 million for improved data collection and reporting while also financing a pilot program to support farmers with irrigation system upgrades and underrepresented communities.
Today’s awards mark the second solicitation offered through the SGM Grant Program. In 2022, the program awarded $150 million during the first solicitation to 20 agencies responsible for managing critically overdrafted groundwater basins throughout the state. Demand for groundwater project funding has been high with the SGM Grant Program receiving nearly $800 million in requests.
In addition to working with DWR, several awardees will partner with non-governmental organizations to help implement these projects, including the Community Alliance with Family Farmers, Sonoma Land Trust Resource Conservation District, La Luz Center, Ducks Unlimited, Natural Resources Defense Council, River Partners and others. This type of collaboration is highly encouraged by DWR and serves as a great example of how entities with similar missions are working together to prepare for a hotter and drier future.
While local agencies are implementing projects and actions to reach sustainable groundwater conditions under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), DWR will continue to provide technical, planning and financial assistance. For Tribes and underrepresented communities that are experiencing difficulties implementing SGMA in their region, DWR offers assistance through the Underrepresented Community Technical Assistance program. The program offers free needs assessments and preliminary engineering reports to help communities identify needs and develop potential groundwater projects for future funding.
The SGM Grant Program is one component of DWR’s work to provide local communities funding under the state’s emerging “Go Golden” initiative. The initiative highlights the state’s partnership with local organizations and water agencies to implement projects that address water infrastructure, water conservation, well rehabilitation and fish and wildlife protection as California prepares for a future driven by our changing climate. Interested parties can stay up to date with the latest “Go Golden” announcements and news through DWR’s email subscription list.
For more information about upcoming environmental grant opportunities, visit DWR’s Grants and Loans webpage.
Allison Armstrong, Information Officer, Public Affairs, Department of Water Resources
916-820-7652 | firstname.lastname@example.org