Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program

A recharge pond with mountains in the background

Coachella Valley Water District's Thomas E. Levy Groundwater Replenishment Facility in Coachella, California.

What is the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program?

The SGM Grant Program is managed by the Division of Regional Assistance in the Department of Water Resources (DWR). We work in consultation with DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office (SGMO), which oversees implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) in California.

Our Mission

The mission of the SGM Grant Program is to provide funding to Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) and other responsible entities under SGMA to promote healthy and sustainable groundwater basins, to reduce and eliminate undesirable effects, and to promote projects that provide multiple benefits while also improving groundwater supply and quality.

Our Vision

The vision of the SGM Grant Program is to achieve sustainable water balance in California, where GSAs and other responsible entities work cooperatively and innovatively to manage surface and groundwater together in a holistic and integrated manner.

We conduct the following activities to achieve the mission and vision of the SGM Grant Program:

  • fund the development and implementation of a Groundwater Sustainability Plan (GSP) or an approved Alternative to a GSP
  • fund projects that promote the sustainable use of groundwater
  • educate the public on groundwater sources and uses, and ways to sustainably manage and protect it
  • provide technical assistance for Underrepresented Communities to identify their risks and needs with respect to SGMA compliance
  • research and disseminate information on sustainable groundwater best management practices
  • partner with other State agencies, nonprofit organizations, and other interested parties to ensure that public funds are expended on activities and tasks that best suits the groundwater needs in California

As stewards of the public investment, DWR’s role is to verify public funds are being used in the most appropriate manner in accordance with the applicable propositions and General Obligation Bond law, State Budget acts and Executive proclamations, and the funding documents we develop to solicit applications and deliver the funds in compliance with such directives.

Why is Groundwater Important?

Groundwater is a vital resource pumped from underground water wells to supply water in homes, businesses, and farms. Groundwater contributes approximately 38 to 46 percent (or more) towards the statewide annual supply depending on average rainfall years and dry years. Many municipal, agricultural, and disadvantaged communities rely solely on groundwater as their source of water supply needs.

More information on SGMA and the importance of groundwater can be found on the SGMA Groundwater Story Map.


Current Solicitation Information

The Budget Act of 2021 (through Senate Bill 170) has provided $180 million in General Funds for Groundwater Projects.  Of the $180 million in General Funds, $171 million is available for grant awards after program administration costs. These $171 million were split into two distinct eligible project types and locations.

San Joaquin Valley Groundwater Basin Funding

Of the $171 million, $57 million has been marked for projects in groundwater basins within the San Joaquin Valley (SJV) for a) geophysical investigation(s) of groundwater basins to identify recharge potential; b) early implementation of existing regional flood management plans that incorporate groundwater recharge; or c) projects in the SJV that would complement efforts of a local GSP, that provide for floodplain expansion to benefit groundwater recharge or habitat.

SGM Grant Program have identified 19 groundwater basins within the SJV that are also listed as medium or high priority. Those basins are identified within the 2021 Guidelines.

SGMA Implementation Funding

The $114 million in General Funds will be combined with the $71.5 million remaining in Proposition 68 Implementation funds. Of the $71.5 million, $9.5 million is set aside for projects that are located within and benefit Severely Disadvantaged Communities (SDACs). Eligible applicants include GSAs, member agencies of GSAs, an entity that represents a GSA(s) (which can include public agencies, non-profit organizations, public utilities, federally recognized Indian Tribes, State Indian Tribes listed on the Native American Heritage Commission’s Tribal Consultation list, or mutual water companies), and agencies with an approved Alternative.  Applicants must be located within medium and high priority basins (including critically overdrafted (COD) basins). Also included are those agencies located within adjudicated basins who adjudicated after January 1, 2015. Funds can be used for revisions, updates and/or modifications to a GSP or approved Alternative to a GSP and for funding projects outlined in those plans. Funding will be awarded in a competitive manner based upon the scoring criteria outlined in the Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP).

More information on eligible applicant(s), eligible activities/tasks, and eligible groundwater basins are found within the 2021 Guidelines and PSP.

This is a dynamic program and changes are occurring often. More information will be provided as it becomes available. We recommend checking this website frequently for any updates.

The SGM Grant Program is funded by Proposition 1, Proposition 68, and General Funds from the State Budget Act of 2021. To date, the SGM Grant Program has awarded $139.5 million in three rounds of planning grants for development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSPs), updates/revisions to approved Alternatives to a GSP, and implementation of related projects.  In addition, the SGM Grant Program has awarded $26 million to critically overdrafted basins for construction projects outlined in their adopted GSP or approved Alternative to a GSP.

See “Current Grant Solicitation Information” above for more information on the most recent future grant solicitation information.

The Budget Act of 2021 (through Senate Bill 170) has provided $180 million in General Funds for Groundwater Projects.  Of the $180 million in General Funds, $171 million is available for grant awards after program administration costs. These $171 million were split into two distinct eligible project types and locations. 

Remaining Proposition 68 Implementation funds of $71.5 million will be combined with the funding provided from the Budget Act of 2021.

Remaining funds not awarded in the first round solicitation will be available in a second round solicitation to qualifying applicants that were not awarded in the first round of funding.

Proposition 1, Round 1, Counties with Stressed Basins Grants

In 2015, DWR received 23 applications requesting $7 million in grant funding. DWR awarded 21 grants for a total of $6.7 million in Proposition 1 grant funding and $5.8 million in local cost share.

Proposition 1, Round 2, Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program

In 2017, DWR received 78 applications requesting $86.3 million in grant funding and approximately $64 million in local cost share. On April 4, 2018, DWR announced the final award to 78 grant applicants totaling $85.8 million for the SGWP Grant Program Solicitation.

Proposition 68, Round 3, Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program

In 2019, DWR received 55 applications requesting $51.1 million in grant funding and approximately $11 in local cost share. In 2020, DWR awarded 53 grants for approximately $47 million in Proposition 68 funding for the SGWP Grant Program Solicitation.  Information regarding the final awards can be found at the following links:

The 2020/2021 Budget Act stated that $26 million of Proposition 68 implementation funds would be made available for critically overdrafted (COD) basins only. In January 2021, DWR received 15 applications, requesting over $70 Million in grant funding. DWR awarded 6 grants for $26 million in Proposition 68 funding for the SGM Grant Program’s Implementation Round 1 grant solicitation.

DWR has retained the services of GHD, Inc. to provide project analysis and monitoring protocol development.
 
In early 2021, GHD, Inc. began  the Groundwater Implementation Project Protocols (GIPP) which includes collecting and analyzing qualitative and quantitative data to develop standardized monitoring methods to determine the effectiveness of SGM Grant Program Projects. DWR is interested in understanding which project types efficiently provide multi-benefits are the most cost-beneficial, and  best address sustainability indicators outlined in SGMA (subsidence, depletion of interconnected surface water, groundwater levels lowering, degraded water quality, reduction of groundwater storage and seawater intrusion). This work will investigate existing groundwater sustainability projects and apply a decision-based approach to evaluate the effectiveness of those projects. GHD is collaborating with numerous branches of DWR, other State agencies, and international colleagues.


The project is separated into two phases: Project Data Analysis and Data Standards Development. Currently the project is in the Project Data Analysis phase in which data is being gathered to evaluate monitoring protocol standards, monitoring networks, data gaps, hydrogeologic conceptual models, water budgets, hydrogeologic models, and other modelling associated with the development and operation of completed SGM projects. The project is expected to be completed in Mid-2022.


Note: certain grantees may be contacted for an interview to obtain further project information.

 

DWR has retained the services of Dudek to provide Underrepresented Communities technical assistance (TA) services. 

The Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), passed in 2014, requires the development of Groundwater Sustainability Plans (GSP) by Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSA) to sustainably manage groundwater resources for local communities.  It is crucial that GSP implementation projects address Prop 68 eligible needs, risks, and vulnerabilities of underrepresented areas with regards to SGMA mandated activities; however, it has been reported that some GSAs have not been able to address these needs, risks, and vulnerabilities to a sufficient extent.  DWR recognizes the need for additional Technical Assistance (TA) and, thus, implemented Underrepresented Community Technical Assistance to address this need.

 

Dudek will assist in implementing SGMA needs, risk, and vulnerability assessments, and other technical assistance services to Tribes and Underrepresented Communities (as defined in the 2020 Prop 68 Implementation PSP). Local entities will be able to request Underrepresented Communities Technical Assistance (TA) services through an application process administered and managed by DWR. 

Additional information regarding requesting this service will become available in October 2021.

Contact Us

Questions and More Information:

General Email: SGWP@water.ca.gov

You can also contact the Programmatic Project Manager of the SGM Grant Program, Kelley List, at Kelley.list@water.ca.gov or at (916) 873-5329.


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What's New?

  • Draft 2021 SGM Grant Program Guidelines (coming soon)
  • Draft 2021 SGM Grant Program PSP (coming soon)

Public Meetings & Applicant Assistance Workshop