DWR grants $3 million in drought aid to Tulare County communities 

In light of the severe drought, areas in Tulare County receive a portion of $22 million grant funding from the Department of Water Resources to assist small communities with severe water needs

SACRAMENTO – With the driest three month stretch in California history and the summer months still ahead, several areas around Tulare County are recipients of grant awards from the Department of Water Resources to help with local drought assistance.

“Climate change has fundamentally altered our state’s water cycle – intensifying extreme weather and leading to longer, drier periods,” said Kris Tjernell, Department of Water Resources (DWR) Deputy Director of Integrated Watershed Management. “As the world continues to warm, we must work together to manage California’s water supply. That work starts with protecting the health and safety of our communities.”

DWR worked in coordination with the State Water Resources Control Board to determine the funding commitments. The small communities go through an application process where they are chosen based on their emergent need and other qualifications, according to DWR. Per this round of funding, $22 million was split between 17 projects. Fourteen of these projects will specifically support disadvantaged communities, three of which are Tribes. This money will help with replacements of aging infrastructure, increased water storage and improvements to quality and supply of drinking water.

In Tulare County, the Tule River Tribe will receive $2 million to repair its existing intake system, install a storage tank and replace the pipeline from the intake to the treatment plant. Additionally, the Lindsay-Strathmore Irrigation District will receive $1.6 million to replace about 5,500 feet of leaking water system pipelines in the community of Tonyville. 

In Fresno County, the Del Rey Community Services District will receive $1.4 million to also repair leaky and aging pipelines to help the community save water during these especially dry times. Some additional counties receiving funding from this grant are located in Plumas, Napa, Butte, Humboldt, Kern, Marin Mendocino and Yolo.

In Yolo County, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation will receive $1.6 million to construct a new well. In Humboldt County, the Trinidad Rancheria will receive $1.5 million to build a treatment facility for six groundwater wells. In Plumas County, the Johnsville Public Utility District will receive $1.4 million to replace its aging water storage tanks with two 100,00-gallon steel tanks.

Additionally, in Glenn County, the Artois Community Services District will receive $675,000 to rehab an existing well and extend their water system to accommodate 25 rural homes with private drying wells. The Lake Berryessa Resort Improvement District in Napa County will receive $637,000 to install a floating intake structure and hauled water as permanent solutions are implemented.

In August 2021, the Small Community Drought Relief program was launched to help small communities address the drought impacts by providing technical and financial services. This initiative was funded by the Budget Act of 2021 and has been extended by Governor Newsome this January. According to DWR, the seventh round is the last round for this fiscal year, but additional funding is expected for next year. Since the launch, $160 million dollars has been awarded to 85 projects across the state. 

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, on average, 14 percent of water treated by water systems is lost to leaks. The leaks are usually caused by aging infrastructure and occasional land subsidence. The severity of the matter is why DWR partnered with California Rural Water Association to offer free leak detection for small water systems that serve less than 3,000 connections. DWR explained that in addition to reducing the loss of water, finding and replacing the leaks can offer several other benefits. The risk of contamination will decrease, it will reduce energy consumption, improve operational efficiency, strengthen drought resilience and will help with financial savings. 

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