DWR Awards $187 Million to Improve Sustainable Groundwater Use and Storage Statewide

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) has awarded $187 million to 32 groundwater subbasins through the Sustainable Groundwater Management (SGM) Grant Program. The funding will support 103 individual projects that enhance groundwater monitoring, water use efficiency, groundwater recharge, recycled water and water quality.  “This water year has proved the importance of managing our groundwater to capture and store as much water as possible in our local communities to prepare for future weather extremes, while supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act,” said DWR Sustainable Groundwater Management Deputy Director Paul Gosselin. “We look forward to working with our local partners to make the necessary investments to better manage, capture and store groundwater for future generations.”  California is home to 515 groundwater basins, a critical component of the state’s water supply, and is heavily relied upon by communities, agriculture and the environment, especially during dry and drought years.  During the 2023 Water Year, DWR has determined an estimated 3.8 million acre-feet of water has been recharged; a clearer picture of the 2023 water year’s groundwater conditions will emerge after April 1, 2024, when annual reports are due from the local groundwater sustainability agencies to the State.  The grant awards are distributed throughout the State, but some regions that will benefit from this funding include:

  • In Merced County, the Merced Irrigation-Urban Groundwater Sustainability Agency will receive $3.4 million to execute two multi-benefit projects that fallow more than 1,300 acres of cropland, resulting in increased groundwater recharge, habitat enhancement and reduced flood risk for nearby underrepresented communities.
  • In San Benito County, San Benito County Water District will receive $11.5 million to expand and update the water treatment plant and construct five aquifer storage and recovery wells, as well as a conveyance pipeline for water. The project will help provide a resilient water supply for nearby underrepresented communities.
  • In Stanislaus County, Oakdale Irrigation District will receive $14.3 million to expand an existing recharge facility and increase storage by 600 percent. The project will benefit underrepresented communities in the area.
  • In Sutter County, Sutter County Development Services will receive $8.5 million for improved data collection and reporting while also financing a pilot program to support farmers with irrigation system upgrades and underrepresented communities.

These awards mark the second solicitation offered through the SGM Grant Program. In 2022, the program awarded $150 million during the first solicitation to 20 agencies responsible for managing critically over drafted groundwater basins throughout the state. Demand for groundwater project funding has been high with the SGM Grant Program receiving nearly $800 million in requests.