California city’s water supply saved by drought relief funding

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The small town of Coalinga, California, has been saved just in time.

In mid-October, the farming community was facing the possibility that it would run out of water in two months.  Reliant on a federal surface water appropriation from the Central Valley Project, the city of 17,000 desperately needed 600 acre-feet of water to survive and was asking the Bureau of Reclamation and state authorities for help.

On November 2, the California Department of Water ResourcesOpens in a new tab. announced that it awarded $1.2 million to the City of Coalinga for an emergency water transfer to supply the community through the winter months.  In coordination with the Bureau of Reclamation, Coalinga was able to purchase 600 acre-feet of water for approximately $1.1 million from the Patterson Irrigation DistrictOpens in a new tab..

To support the City, the state’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) is providing $1.2 million to cover the cost of the water purchase plus additional expenses through its Urban Community Drought Relief grant program. This funding will relieve the City of financial strain and will provide water for the community through February 2023, when further allocations from Reclamation will be available.

“Funding from DWR’s drought relief grant programs is available for this exact purpose, to ensure that no one goes without water during this extended and extreme drought. The City of Coalinga will receive immediate relief from this program for its residents,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “The State will continue to work with the city and other communities throughout the Central Valley and California to provide available grant funding opportunities for long-term water resilience projects as we adapt to a hotter, drier future.”

“The City of Coalinga appreciates the funding support from DWR and the coordination of all our local, state, and federal partners in ensuring that our community continues to have access to a safe, clean water supply during this extreme drought,” said Marissa Trejo, City Manager for the City of Coalinga.

Earlier this fall, DWR announced $300 million in available financial assistance through the 2022 Urban Community Drought Relief Grant Program to support water infrastructure improvements, yard transformation, and water supply reliability projects. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis and grant awards will be made in multiple phases. DWR expects to announce the second phase of awards later this fall.

DWR is administering the Urban Community Drought Relief Program using funds authorized by the Budget Act of 2021. Last year, the program successfully awarded $268 million to 126 projects over three phases of funding. For information about other DWR and State drought response efforts and funding programs, visit in a new tab..




Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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