CDFA and DWR award $4.6 million to bring surface water to San Joaquin farms

By on October 26, 2017

Grant funds from California’s Proposition 1 and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (SWEEP) have made possible $4.6 million in joint water efficiency grants for the North San Joaquin Water Conservation District (NSJWCD) and 19 farm operations within the district. Announced last week by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Department of Water Resources (DWR), the awards will be used to improve water delivery and on-farm water efficiency for farms that have previously depended exclusively on groundwater for irrigation.

“It is essential that we think about water distribution at irrigation districts as well as on the farm,” said CDFA Secretary Karen Ross. “This grant is a smart investment in improving our water-use efficiency and managing our groundwater basins for future droughts.  Our thanks to the Department of Water Resources for joining us in this critically important program.”

Proposition 1 was a $7.5 billion bond measure approved by California voters in 2014. SWEEP is a CDFA program that provides financial assistance for California farms to save water and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Growers will use the awarded funds to ease demands on the region’s critically overdrafted basins as well as adopting water conservation technologies such as drip irrigation, moisture sensors and weather stations to reduce water use.

Of the 19 farms awarded the $4.6 million, Larry and Charlene Mettler are receiving the largest grant amount of $199,981. The Mettlers are currently irrigating 154 acres of grapevines using groundwater pumped from several different wells. The project involves installation of on-farm components to enable the farm to receive and use pressurized surface water from NSJWCD’s pipeline instead of groundwater supplies to irrigate existing grapevines. The Mettlers will need to provide estimated matching funds of $113,645 for the project.

The smallest grant awarded by CDFA and DWR is $43,761 to Michael L. and Lisa R. Manna. They have 28 acres of grapevines being irrigated by groundwater pumped from a single well. The funds will be used in a manner similar to the Mettlers but the Manna’s estimated matching funds will be just $2,000.

The joint award by DWR and CDFA is expected to result in water savings of over 553 million gallons and GHG reductions of 97 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. The pilot project’s other benefits include greater energy efficiency and improved nutrient management.

“This investment will return dividends in a more sustainable groundwater future for California,” said Department of Water Resources Director Grant Davis. “These grants provide opportunities for communities to become more water efficient and at the same time, assist in efforts to improve the sustainability of California’s groundwater resources.”

To view other specifics on the grants received by the Mettlers and Mannas, as well as the other 17 recipients, go to: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/oefi/sweep/docs/2017_SWEEP-JointDWR-CDFA_ProjectsSelectedforAward.pdf.