DWR announces water transfer agreements

More water is flowing to drought-stricken Central Valley farms as a result of new Department of Water Resources (DWR) water transfer agreements. The agreements come after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s State of Emergency proclamation on June 12 for nine counties affected by severe water shortages and his statewide drought proclamation on June 4.

“I continue to push for a comprehensive plan to address California's water supply issues and the environmental crisis we face in the Delta. The drought has only intensified our need for immediate actions like conservation, increased groundwater storage and financial support for local water agencies and non-profit organizations,” Schwarzenegger said. "The steps that the Department of Water Resources is announcing now — like expediting $12 million in grants for water conservation — not only represent real action in response to my recent executive order, but they demonstrate our unyielding commitment to our immediate water needs and California's long-term vision to restore the Delta."

Responding to the governor’s emergency declaration, up to 50,000 acre feet of groundwater will be pumped into the State Water Project this summer. This water comes from groundwater wells in the Westlands Water District (WWD) and will be transferred to other parts of the WWD service area that do not have groundwater access.

DWR is lending 37,500 acre feet of water to Central Valley Project (CVP) contractors out of the San Luis Reservoir. An additional 25,000 acre feet is being made available by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for the benefit of both CVP and SWP contractors.

“Thanks to the governor’s leadership and the tremendous cooperation between water agencies, Central Valley farms will have more water during the peak growing season for many crops,” said DWR Director Lester Snow. “These actions will help ease what could otherwise be a dire situation for our farms, our economy and our way of life.”

In addition to the water transfers and exchanges, DWR will expedite $12 million in grants to water agencies and non-profit organizations. The funds can be used for water conservation activities including rebate programs, public education and outreach, leak detection, and retrofit of systems for greater water efficiency. Of the $12 million, $2 million is earmarked for disadvantaged communities and $10 million for other agencies and organizations. DWR will hold an online workshop on the grant program July 8 at 10 a.m. More information on the workshop and the grant program is available at: www.owue.water.ca.gov/finance/index.cfm.

To help communities finance new investments in water management funding DWR has awarded $6.4 million in grant funding to 31 public agencies from the Local Groundwater Assistance Program. Funding will support development of groundwater management plans and programs, installation of groundwater monitoring wells, hydro geologic studies of groundwater basins, development of groundwater models and data storage systems, and many other actions to enhance groundwater management and usage throughout California. A listing of the agencies and projects receiving grants is posted at: http://www.grantsloans.water.ca.gov/grants/assistance.cfm.

DWR and the State Water Resources Control Board will also award up to $58 million to four Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) efforts. DWR will provide the San Diego County Water Agency up to $25 million and the County of Humboldt up to $2.1 million. The State Water Resources Control Board previously awarded $25 million to the Santa Barbara County Water Agency and $6 million to the Kings River Conservation District. The funding will support a wide variety of water management activities including landscape water efficiency projects, recycled water and desalination projects, groundwater recharge facilities, water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, watershed management activities, and design work for new water management facilities.

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