During an average year, groundwater contributes approximately 38 percent towards the state's total water supply. During dry years, with conditions similar to those experienced currently, groundwater contributes up to 46 percent of the statewide annual supply and serves as a critical buffer against the impacts of drought and climate change.
Projects that are eligible for funding through the program include revisions or updates to an existing groundwater sustainability plan or alternative to a groundwater sustainability plan, groundwater recharge projects, projects that prevent or clean up contamination of groundwater that serve as a source of drinking water, and projects that support water supply reliability.
“Through these investments, we will continue collaborating with our regional groundwater agencies to promote projects that provide multiple benefits while also improving groundwater supply and quality,” said Kris Tjernell, DWR Deputy Director of Integrated Watershed Management.
DWR will deliver the funding through a minimum of two rounds of solicitations. The first round will provide more than $150 million by spring 2022 to regional groundwater sustainability agencies in critically overdrafted basins for planning and implementation projects to help comply with SGMA. The first round of awards is anticipated to be announced by spring 2022.
The second solicitation, which is expected to open in fall 2022, will provide more than $200 million from the voter-approved Proposition 68, any future budget allocations, and any remaining funds from the first round, for planning and projects in medium and high priority groundwater basins to help comply with SGMA. Any remaining funds after the second round would be distributed through future funding solicitations.
In addition to these funding solicitations, DWR initiated the Underrepresented Community Technical Assistance Program in mid-2021 to help identify the needs, risks and vulnerabilities of these communities with respect to SGMA implementation. This work will conclude in mid-2022. In a complementary effort, DWR is reserving $2 million in state funds to award to a technical assistance provider to address the needs, risks, and vulnerabilities of Underrepresented Communities as identified by the Technical Assistance Program. Of this amount, a minimum of $1 million must be used for technical assistance. More information can be found within the Proposal Solicitation Package.
DWR is also currently administering other grant programs aimed at addressing the immediate and long-term water needs of the state. Applications are currently being accepted for the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program, which will provide funding for projects, including groundwater projects, with multiple benefits that address the immediate impacts of the current drought.
Additionally, DWR anticipates opening Round 2 of the Proposition 1 Integrated Regional Water Management Grant Solicitation in early 2022. Round 2 of this solicitation will provide funding for projects, including those that invest in groundwater sustainability, that help meet the state's long-term water needs by promoting climate resilience, incentivizing watershed-scale collaboration, and improving regional water self-reliance.
For more information about available funding and the Underrepresented Technical Assistance Program, visit DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Grant Program page. Questions regarding the grant program can be submitted to SGWP@water.ca.govand questions about available technical assistance can be submitted to email@example.com.