California has been experiencing an extensive drought that started in 2000. In the last weeks of October 2021, the state has experienced a welcome deluge of rain that experts estimate to amount to 7.6 trillion gallons of water, enough water for 244 million people for an entire year (Robbin, 2021).
But even this amount of rainfall is not enough to end the state’s drought, and experts are urging residents to conserve water as they expect the dry conditions to linger on.
To help residents cope with drought impacts, California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR) released a $200 million Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Program.
According to their news release, the fund is “designed to help communities facing the loss or contamination of their water supplies due to drought, and the Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief Grant Program will help address immediate drought impacts on human health and safety, protect fish and wildlife resources, and provide other public benefits, such as ecosystem improvements. At least $50 million of the available funding will be set aside to support underrepresented communities and Native American Tribes” (DWR Offers, 2021).
On top of this fund, another $200 million in grants will be available through Small Community Drought Relief Program launched last summer.
DWR Director Karl Nemeth strongly encourage applications for the funding, especially from tribes, “Despite recent rains, we are facing one of the most severe droughts in California history, and it is critical that we get funding to communities that need it most to ensure safe, reliable drinking water, agricultural irrigation water, environmental protection, and other public benefits” (DWR Offers, 2021).
Experts in government, agriculture, water management, and the environment highlight the danger of droughts made worse by climate change in the Western parts of the United States.
Water is becoming a limited resource, and investments in water infrastructure and better water management, made possible through funding, are needed to combat drought and climate change effects.
Long-term water resource planning is a vital component of future demand planning for water infrastructure. Forecasting certainty is subject to rainfall, droughts, and storm patterns associated with the changing climate patterns.
Managing water uncertainty needs to be incorporated into long-term infrastructure management planning.
DWR Offers Grant for Urban and Multibenefit Drought Relief. (2021 October 28). California Department of Water Resources. Retrieved from https://water.ca.gov/News/News-Releases/2021/Oct-21/DWR-Offers-Grants-for-Urban-and-Multibenefit-Drought-Relief
Robbins, G. (2021, November 1). California’s atmospheric river storms dropped 7,600,000,000,000 gallons of rain, but it was no drought buster. The San Diego Union Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/weather/story/2021-11-01/californias-bomb-cyclone-drop