The California Department of Water Resources announced yesterday its first round of funding to 20 agencies responsible for managing critically overdrafted groundwater basins throughout the state.
According to the Department’s news release, a total of $150 million in funding is being awarded to regional groundwater agencies through the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program. The funding will go toward projects focused on water efficiency, groundwater recharge, feasibility studies for alternative water supplies, and the installation of monitoring wells. The grant funding is made possible by a $171 million investment from the Budget Act of 2021 and will support other benefits such as improving drinking water quality and restoring habitat.
This funding will support 119 individual projects across 20 groundwater basins, with 102 of those projects benefitting underrepresented or severely disadvantaged communities including Tribes.
DWR says that California is home to 515 groundwater basins, with the majority of residents relying on groundwater for some portion of their water supply. During dry years, groundwater contributes up to 60 percent of the statewide annual supply and serves as a critical buffer against the impacts of drought and climate change.
The first round of funding includes $40 million dedicated to projects within the San Joaquin Valley basin, a critically overdrafted region that is home to millions of Californians. The grant funding will help groundwater sustainability agencies revise their existing groundwater sustainability plans or plan alternatives. Several non-governmental organizations in the state will partner with the groundwater agencies.
A second funding solicitation is planned for later this fall, which will offer more than $200 million for planning efforts and projects in medium and high priority groundwater basins to help local agencies reach their groundwater sustainability goals under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program. Critically overdrafted basins that received funding in the first round will also be eligible to apply for funding in the next round. Application guidelines are published at the Department’s website.