Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced that $288 million will fund drought and flood projects throughout the state, which includes a collective $49.5 million for water conservation and supply initiatives in the Southland.
The state Department of Water Resources, through the Urban Community Drought Relief Grant program, has awarded more than $217 million to 44 projects intended to support “drought resilience” and prepare for future dry conditions. An additional $71 million will “help respond to local drought impacts,” state officials said.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which serves 26 public water agencies including various cities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego and Ventura counties, will receive $30 million to implement a turf replacement program. The program will be made available to all of its member agencies.
State officials say the program will save up to 4,500-acre feet of water per year by converting an estimated 30 million square-feet of “non-functional turf to water-efficient landscaping.”
“The state funding awarded today is a testament to California’s commitment to ensuring a resilient water future for all,” Adel Hagekhalil, general manager of the MWD, said in a statement.
“I am thankful for the state’s support and proactive approach toward addressing the ongoing challenges facing our water supplies as the climate changes. This critical investment will provide Southern California communities with opportunities to build on their progress in conservation.”
As water conservation efforts continue, Hagekhalil said in a statement, investments must be made to support “local water supplies, storage and the flexibility of our water system for the benefit of the 19 million people” in Southern California.
As part of the funding, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works will receive $10.5 million for flood risk management and to recharge groundwater supplies. Specifically, the money is intended to reinforce the Santa Anita Dam and remove sediment, providing additional storage capacity for downstream groundwater recharge in the Santa Ana Spreading Grounds.
“The project will increase the county’s ability to recharge with stormwater, adding over 2,000 acre-feet of new storm water resources to the groundwater basin annually,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
Vice President Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot visited the project site in January during record-setting winter storms.
In addition, the county’s Department of Water and Power will receive $4.5 million to upgrade the Dominguez Gap Seawater Intrusion Barrier to use 100% recycled water.