The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has released the Grant Program Guidelines and Proposal Solicitation Package for approximately $193 million in grant funding to help local agencies advance water infrastructure and resilience projects. This critical statewide funding will support projects such as water desalination, wastewater treatment, water conservation, and groundwater recharge as California plans for a fourth year of drought.
Financed by voter-approved Proposition 1, $167.5 million is available through the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Program to implement projects that respond to local challenges by improving water supply reliability, reducing fire risk, increasing water storage, and improving water quality — including treating drinking water — while adapting for future challenges caused by climate change and drought. The remaining $25.5 million is reserved to fund projects that will benefit disadvantaged communities.
“As a state we must prepare now for continued impacts to our water supply from a changing climate. We must invest in water infrastructure and work towards a droughtproof and sustainable water supply that supports our communities and the environment into the future,” said DWR Director Karla Nemeth. “This funding will help regions and local agencies increase self-reliance and implement projects that best suit the needs of their area.”
DWR will deliver the funding through two phases and will require applications for the first phase to be submitted by August 19 of this year. Applications for the second phase of funding must be submitted by February 1, 2023. Applicants must coordinate through their respective established IRWM Regional Water Management Group and can submit grant applications using DWR’s online submittal tool, GRanTS. DWR expects to announce the first phase of awards later this fall and the second phase in spring 2023.
This solicitation will award all remaining funding in the Proposition 1 IRWM Program. In 2020, DWR awarded $211 million to 42 IRWM regions for implementation projects including approximately $25 million for projects benefiting disadvantaged communities.
The guidelines and proposal solicitation package, as well as detailed information on the solicitation requirements, procedures, and process can be accessed at the Implementation Grant Program webpage.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the IRWM Program, which was established by AB 1672, the IRWM Planning Act. The Act called for collaborative regional partnerships and development of IRWM Plans to identify local water challenges and projects to provide multi-benefit solutions.
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. In response to the Governor’s March Executive Order, the State Water Resources Control Board adopted emergency water conservation regulations last month to ban watering of non-functional turf in the commercial, industrial, and institutional sectors, and require local agencies to prepare for the possibility that water supplies may be up to 20% lower due to extreme weather.