Calif. DWR awards $6.7 million to launch groundwater plans

The awards are being made to counties with high- and medium-priority groundwater basins, some of which are in critical overdraft.

SOURCE: ACWA

CALIFORNIA, March 24, 2016 -- The California Department of Water Resources is awarding 21 counties a total of $6.7 million in Proposition 1 grants to help with sustainable groundwater planning.

The Proposition 1 Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program provides funding for county projects that will develop groundwater plans consistent with the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act enacted by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2014. The awards are being made to counties with high- and medium-priority groundwater basins, some of which are in critical overdraft.

According to a press release, DWR received 23 grant applications requesting a total of approximately $7 million. Adding the matching funds provided by the grant award recipients, approximately $13 million will be dedicated to projects in counties that need to begin long-term planning for sustainable groundwater management.

According to Laura McLean, senior engineering geologist with the Sustainable Groundwater Planning Grant Program, DWR gave priority to proposals that will benefit disadvantaged communities, address critically overdrafted basins, address basins exhibiting stressed conditions, and proposals to enact ordinances to address groundwater sustainability.

“This funding will help counties address long-term planning goals, better understand what’s coming in and going out of their aquifers, and get the much- needed jumpstart on addressing the new regulations,” says McLean. “More funding will certainly become available to help groundwater sustainability agencies moving forward. We aim to complement the timeline requirements of the law as we continue to streamline our grant processes to get the money out as quickly as possible.”

DWR listed in its press release some of the ways the counties receiving grants would use the money. Colusa County plans to use the funding to advance groundwater sustainability through policy and technical refinement. Mendocino County plans to use the funds for the initial groundwater sustainability plan development, and Kings County’s proposes developing a groundwater model for its critically over-drafted groundwater basin.

DWR announced draft funding recommendations in January and considered public comments on the proposals. DWR staff is working with grantees on detailed work plans for their respective projects including efforts to develop groundwater ordinances and develop plans that protect basins, their beneficial uses, and facilitate basin-wide sustainability. Over the next several months DWR will continue to work with counties regarding budgets and schedules for the funds, which counties can expect to receive as soon as June 2016.

About ACWA
The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is the largest statewide coalition of public water agencies in the country. Its 430 public agency members collectively are responsible for 90% of the water delivered to cities, farms and businesses in California.

More in Environmental