Department of Conservation Awards $1.5M in Grants to Support State's Groundwater Management Plan

January 19, 2021

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Conservation (DOC) today announced five watershed coordinator grants totaling $1.5 million to support regional sustainable groundwater management goals. The grants will go to organizations around the state within medium- and high-priority groundwater basins.

“California’s world-class economy – its unparalleled agricultural sector, diversity, and abundance of industry and communities of all sizes and geographies -- depends on water, and with the reality of climate change, that increasingly means groundwater,” DOC Director David Shabazian said. “Groundwater is a critical resource that we must manage more intently to meet today’s needs while also ensuring adequate water supply in the future. These grants, which support the goals of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA), help us do that.” 

Established by legislation in 2014 and managed by the Department of Water Resources (DWR), SGMA is California’s framework for sustainable groundwater management. SGMA requires governments and water agencies that overlie high- and medium-priority basins ​to halt overdraft and bring pumping and recharge of groundwater basins into balance. 

Staff from DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection -- which administers programs that conserve California’s agricultural land, support land-management efforts, and map and analyze land-use change -- coordinated with DWR in developing the grant program. Residual funds from the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002 supported the grants.

“DWR appreciates the opportunity to coordinate with the Department of Conservation and is very excited about these watershed coordinator grants,” said Steven Springhorn, acting deputy director of DWR’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Office. 

“SGMA emphasizes that groundwater is best managed at the local level, and DWR is administering a number of projects and programs to assist locals with SGMA implementation. These grants build upon these efforts and support the need for ongoing collaboration between local agencies and their communities.”

The watershed coordinator positions funded by these grants will build broad coalitions of government, stakeholders, and communities to develop plans and projects to improve watershed health, and to achieve state and local natural resources goals​.

The successful applications are listed below; view details including a map of the grants here​. Note: The San Joaquin Valley grants are for different subbasins of the large watershed.

“We received 26 grant applications requesting $7.5 million for the available $1.5 million in funding,” said Keali’i Bright, who heads DOC’s Division of Land Resource Protection. “This demonstrates that the local organizations both understand how critical the implementation of SGMA is and need support to do so.”​


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