Underrepresented Communities Technical Assistance Program (URC TA Program)
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) developed the Underrepresented Community Technical Assistance Program (URC TA Program) after learning that some Groundwater Sustainability Agencies (GSAs) have not been able to address the needs, risks, and vulnerabilities with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) for underrepresented areas in medium and high priority basins to a sufficient extent within their Groundwater Sustainability Plan(s) (GSPs) or Alternative. DWR recognizes the need for addition assistance and, thus, implemented the URC TA Program to address this need.
The mission of the URC TA Program is to determine the needs, risks, and vulnerabilities with the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA) for underrepresented areas in medium and high priority basins, including critically overdrafted (COD) basins.
DWR retained the services of a consultant group in 2021 to provide underrepresented communities with technical assistance services using Proposition 68 funds.
DWR is assisting Tribes and other Underrepresented Communities identified in the heat Maps found below. The URC TA Program will provide onsite engineering, geologic, hydrologic, and other technical services to the communities based upon a ranking of water systems. The types of services provided include, but are not limited to:
- Groundwater level monitoring
- Aquifer testing to determine long-term yield and supply
- Identifying Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems (GDEs)
- Analyze well interference
- Identifying additional water supply
- Analyze existing well condition using downhole video log
- Rehabilitation of water storage tank
- Long-term water supply and demand analysis
- Analyze and help to facilitate water transfers
In addition, DWR hired a nongovernmental agency (NGO) in 2022, using General Funds provided by the Budget Act of 2021, to expand upon the URC TA Program. The additional services DWR is providing through this agreement will:
- Create a template for local domestic well impact mitigation to develop plans for drinking water well protection. Share the data with three (3) local GSAs for the GSAs to develop a mitigation program. Provide ongoing community engagement by attending the three GSAs board meetings or committee meetings to submit the community’s needs, risks, and vulnerabilities of URCs in their basin to amend GSPs or Alternatives.
- Analyze and provide feedback on proposed policies and programs by submitting written feedback to the three identified GSAs a minimum of three times a year for two years.
- Revise the existing Communication and Engagement Plan (CEP), if needed.
- Develop educational and outreach materials, if needed.
- Work with the three GSAs and community leaders previously identified to support and implement drinking water and wastewater service projects to help reduce vulnerabilities to groundwater contamination by providing written feedback to those three GSAs.
- Develop a financial strategy plan for the three GSAs to identify long-term strategies for addressing impacts of depleting groundwater supplies, drought, and climate change.
- Identify two common groundwater dependent vegetation species and develop groundwater thresholds that would lead to irreversible transition from a stable state of ecosystem structure. Develop a technical memo with the results of the study and datasets to support incorporation of results into GSP updates.
- Engage small farmers in one GSA boundary and review the GSP(s) management actions for potential impacts on small farms. Review the existing Program’s education and outreach materials to see if additional materials are needed. Develop those needed in conjunction with DWR. Conduct two meetings between the small farmers and representatives of the GSA(s) to investigate ways the small farmers can be actively involved with the GSA(s) on an ongoing basis. Develop a farmer toolkit for outreaching to small farmers and a guidance document for other GSAs to follow on how best to outreach and engage with small farmers in their basin.
Local entities will be able to request services through the SGM_TA@water.ca.gov email address managed by SGM Grant Program Team.
Communication and Engagement Plan (CEP)
Educational Materials for K-12 Grades
Underrepresented Communities (URC) – A term that collectively includes Disadvantaged Communities (DACs), Severely Disadvantaged Communities (SDACs), economically distressed areas (EDAs), Tribes, environmentally disadvantaged communities (EnvDACs), and fringe areas. You will find more information on each below.
DAC - A community with an annual median household income (MHI) that is less than 80% of the Statewide annual MHI (Public Resources Code Section 80002[e]).
SDAC - A community with a MHI of less than 60% of the Statewide average (Public Resources Code Section 80002[n]).
- A municipality with a population of 20,000 persons or less and an annual MHI that is less than 85% of the statewide MHI
- A rural county
- A reasonably isolated and divisible segment of a larger municipality where the segment of the population is 20,000 persons or less, with an annual MHI that is less than 85% of the statewide MHI, and with one or more of the following conditions:
- Financial hardship
- Unemployment rate at least 2% higher than the Statewide average
- Low population density (Water Code Section 79702[k])
Tribes - Federally recognized Native American Tribes and California State Native Tribes listed on the NAHC’s California Tribal Consultation List are collectively referred to as “Tribe” or “Tribes.”
California Native American Tribe - The term “state Indian tribes” (Water Code Section 79712[a]) means Indigenous Communities of California, which are on the contact list maintained by the NAHC, including those that are federally non-recognized, federally recognized, and those with allotment lands, regardless of whether they own those lands. Additionally, because some water bodies and Tribal boundaries cross state borders, this term may include Indigenous Communities in Oregon, Nevada, and Arizona that are impacted by water in California.
Federally Recognized Indian Tribes - A federally recognized Tribe is an American Indian or Alaska Native Tribal entity that is recognized as having a governmentto-government relationship with the United States, with the responsibilities, powers, limitations, and obligations attached to that designation, and is eligible for funding and services from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
EnvDACs - The California Environmental Protection Agency designates the top 25% scoring census tracts as DACs. Census tracts that score the highest 5% of Pollution Burden scores, but do not have an overall CalEnviroScreen score because of unreliable socioeconomic or health data, are also designated as DACs.
Fringe Areas - Fringe Areas are those communities that do not meet the established DAC, SDAC, EDA, or EnvDAC, but can show that they score in the top 25% of either the Pollution Burden or Population Characteristics score using the most recent version of CalEnviroScreen.