DWR Awards $86 Million to Build Water Resilience for Millions of Californians

Dec. 7, 2022
Of the $86 million, $44 million will provide financial assistance to small communities struggling to address drought impacts as part of the Small Community Drought Relief Program.

Department of Water Resources Press Release

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today awarded $86 million in financial assistance to meet the immediate and long-term water needs for millions of Californians in local communities small and large. As California experiences a climate transformation bringing hotter and drier conditions, small communities are extremely vulnerable and long-term solutions are crucial. The State is committed to funding those solutions to ensure water resilience and sustainability for all Californians.  

Of the $86 million, $44 million will provide financial assistance to small communities struggling to address drought impacts as part of the Small Community Drought Relief Program. The program was hugely successful in 2021 and this new round of funding from the Budget Act of 2022 will continue to support the state’s most vulnerable populations. These communities serve fewer than 3,000 connections and are most vulnerable to water supply issues due to aging infrastructure and dry wells. In coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board, DWR has selected 23 projects located in Fresno, Humboldt, Glenn, Imperial, Madera, Plumas, San Benito, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Shasta, Solano, Sonoma, Tehama, and Tulare counties to receive funding for projects that will provide new wells, construct pipelines to deliver water, increase water storage and support consolidation efforts to increase water supply reliability.
“Small communities are the most vulnerable to the impacts of our new hotter, drier climate and lack the resources to immediately deal with these challenges,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “These continued investments from the State strengthen local partnerships to provide reliable drinking water for all Californians because everyone has the human right to water.”
Of the 23 projects, 11 will directly benefit disadvantaged communities. Some of the projects set to receive funding include:
  • In Fresno County, existing wells supporting the community of Mira Bella are drying up because of the ongoing drought. As a proposed solution, the district will receive $4.2 million to construct a pipeline from the existing water treatment plant to the community's distribution system to support water supply resiliency. In the interim, hauled water will be provided to the community as the solutions are being implemented.
  • In Humboldt County, the Redway Community Services District relies on a single water source located on the banks of the South Fork Eel River. Because of diminishing surface flows, the district has declared a Stage 3 emergency and is rationing water. The district will receive $1.6 million to construct three new wells and replace and rehabilitate existing tank infrastructure to ensure a more resilient water supply.
  • In Plumas County, the community of Greenville is losing half of its water supply due to excessive leaks made worse by the drought. The Indian Valley Community Services District will receive $2.4 million to replace approximately 6,500 feet of water distribution system pipelines.
  • In San Benito County, the Best Roads Mutual Water Company is relying on bottled water for customers after its two wells serving communities failed due to water quality and water supply issues. The company will receive $2.2 million to construct a new water tank and consolidate the water system with the Sunnyslope Water District.
  • In Santa Clara County, four tanks in Chemeketa Park are leaking significant amounts of water. The community will receive $1.8 million to replace the four leaking tanks and expand storage at the treatment plant.
  • In Tulare County, the unincorporated community of West Goshen is facing a public health emergency due to water quality and water supply issues in the system of private wells serving the community. The community will receive $3.4 million to connect 50 West Goshen households to the nearby public water system, Cal Water Visalia.
To help local agencies build climate resilience in the long term, DWR is also awarding $42 million in state grants through the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Program in the Central Coast Colorado River, Mountain Counties, North/South Lahontan, San Diego and San Joaquin River funding areas. The state funding supports projects that directly benefit Tribes and disadvantaged communities, and supports water supply strategies such as water desalination, wastewater treatment, water conservation, and groundwater recharge as California plans for a fourth year of drought.
Today’s announcement is the first phase of funding with additional funding to be announced through spring 2023.
Funded projects include:
  • In the Eastern San Joaquin region, theSan Joaquin County Flood Control District will receive $2.9 million to modify and update the district’s South distribution system to provide efficient and metered delivery of surface water to farmers to use in-lieu of groundwater, and to provide the facilities necessary for groundwater recharge with surface water in the non-irrigation season. The project will benefit disadvantaged and small rural communities with hundreds of domestic wells in the area.
  • In the Inyo-Mono region, the Eastern California Water Association will receive $120,000 to restore approximately 800 acres of in-stream habitat vegetation in Oak Creek, which was largely devastated by a catastrophic wildfire and subsequent mudslide in 2007-2008. Additional post fire-flood restoration activities include floodplain and wetland restoration, revegetation as well as reforestation, and invasive plant removal. The project will provide increased flood protection and improve creek water quality for the benefit of the residents of downstream Fort Independence Indian Reservation.
  • In the Inyo-Mono region, the Eastern California Water Association will receive $229,000 to develop a groundwater model covering the Tri-Valley area to better understand and quantify the amount and the flow of groundwater. The groundwater model will serve as a predictive tool to analyze future groundwater conditions and help inform Groundwater Sustainability Agencies on how, where, and when new wells should be constructed. The project will benefit the Benton Paiute Reservation.
  • In the San Diego region, the San Diego County Water Authority will receive $2.4 million to construct a pipeline from the San Vicente Water Reclamation Plant to an existing non-potable pipeline on the Barona Reservation. This project will provide up to 250 acre-feet of water per year of recycled water for non-potable needs to the Barona Tribe. The project will also allow the Barona Tribe to reserve groundwater for its critical drinking water needs, increase groundwater levels and storage, and help to protect groundwater quality from the effects of over pumping.
  • In the San Joaquin River region, the Merced Irrigation District will receive $300,293 to build a 30-acre storage reservoir that will store up to 750 acre-feet per year of flood flows diverted from existing diversions on Mariposa and Owens Creeks. The stored water will be used to irrigate 2,100 acres of farmland while also recharging the underlying groundwater aquifer. The project will also permanently fallow 30 acres of farmland, an important step towards achieving a sustainable water balance in the region.
  • In the Yosemite-Mariposa region, Mariposa County will receive $427,000 to reconstruct a failing leach field which is the primary wastewater disposal facility for the community of Yosemite West Residential district comprised of 165 customers. The project will allow the disposal of approximately 55 acre-feet of wastewater annually. This leach field will also contribute to groundwater recharge of 55-acre feet annually which eventually benefit the downstream disadvantaged community of El Portal.

Financed by voter-approved Proposition 1, the IRWM Program is designed to incentivize local collaboration to implement innovative, multi-benefit projects that build local climate and water supply resilience, as well as conserve water. In 2020, DWR awarded $211 million to 42 IRWM regions for implementation of over 200 projects including approximately $25 million for projects benefiting disadvantaged communities.

2022 marks the 20th anniversary of the IRWM Program, which was established by AB 1672, the IRWM Planning Act. Over the past 20 years, the IRWM program has been instrumental in strengthening collaboration between regional and state partners to identify local water challenges and projects to provide multi-benefit solutions. The IRWM program has awarded more than $1.5 billion throughout California which has been matched by $5.6 billion in local investments to help implement over 1,300 projects that foster climate resilience by mitigating drought impacts, improving water supply reliability, reducing flood and fire risk, increasing water storage, and improving water quality.
While California continues to make investments in water infrastructure to plan for more frequent, intense droughts, it is also critically important that all Californians do their part to conserve water. Governor Newsom has called for a voluntary 15 percent cut in water usage and urged local water agencies to enact stricter mandatory restrictions where necessary. More information and water-saving tips are available at saveourwater.com.
For more information about upcoming grant opportunities, visit DWR’s Grants and Loans webpage.