State Water Board approves $9.5 million in grant funds to 28 storm water projects

By on July 23, 2016
California Drought Grants

The California State Water Resources Control Board announced Thursday it has made a total of $9.5 million in grant funding available to 28 storm water planning projects throughout the state. These grants will aid public agencies and their partners in creating either a watershed-wide Storm Water Resource Plan or develop detailed plans for specific storm water capture projects which is the first step before funding can be granted for construction.

The Proposition 1 Storm Water Grant Program has made the initial $9.5 million available and they will supplement more than $8.8 million in local matching funds. An additional $176 million in Proposition 1 matching-grant funding is available for project construction and implementation.

The Water Quality, Supply, and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1) was approved by voters in the Nov. 4, 2014, general election. Proposition 1 provided $200 million for matching grants for multi-benefit storm water management projects. Proposals for the first round of implementation projects were due July 8. A second round of funding for implementation projects will occur in 2018, after the planning projects have been completed.

Storm water that is successfully captured underground can be pumped out later when needed. Storm water plans provide the foundation for identifying specific and feasible opportunities to use storm water and dry weather runoff, and create benefits such as increased water supply, improved water quality and reduced flood risk. Storm water plans will identify projects, such as detention basins or vegetated bioswales, which can increase water infiltration and water capture into the ground.

Capturing storm water can enhance local water supplies by recharging groundwater aquifers while preventing pollutants from reaching our rivers and ocean. The current drought has highlighted the need for such planning efforts to help local agencies maximize their use of local water resources and reduce dependence on water exports.

“An overdue and welcome shift is occurring in California in how we think about storm water,” said State Water Board Chair Felicia Marcus. “Rather than viewing it as a nuisance that can cause flooding and funnel pollutants into local waterways, communities throughout the state are looking for ways to turn storm water into a resource: to capture water when it falls, clean up waterways, combat drought, and become more resilient in the face of climate change while also creating better public spaces. It’s complicated, but a smart investment in the future.”

The agencies that received the largest grant funds – more than $450,000 – within the state included: the City of Ukiah, $500,000; Contra Costa County Flood Control & Water Conservation District, 499,420; Santa Clara Valley Water District, $471,708; Sonoma County Water Agency, $484,627; Coastal Conservation and Research, Inc. (Monterey County), $469,305; Santa Barbara County, $462,830; City of Torrance, $500,000; Stanislaus County, $500,000; City of South Lake Tahoe, $498,935, San Bernardino County Flood Control, $475,070.  The smallest granted fund of the 28 agencies went to Tahoe Resource Conservation District in the amount of $88,203.

The State Water Board adopted the Storm Water Grant Program Funding Guidelines for administering Storm Water Grant Program Prop 1 funds on Dec. 15, 2015, (Resolution 2015-0076). The resolution authorizes the State Water Board’s Division of Financial Assistance deputy director to award grants and execute grant agreements.