Commissioner Connor Announces $40 Million in Economic Relief Projects for Drought-Stricken California

Last edited 09/29/2021

FRESNO, CA – The Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Mike Connor announced today that $40 million under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) has been released for drought-relief projects in California.

The commissioner is on a tour of California's hard-hit San Joaquin Valley, meeting water and irrigation district representatives and getting a hands-on look at the needs of that community.

“In the third year of drought, with hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland idle and 40,000 people unemployed in the San Joaquin Valley, the water situation in California remains dire,” said Commissioner Connor. “These projects, which will benefit water and irrigation districts in the San Joaquin Valley, are focused on solutions that will extend supplies and help prepare for the possibility of continued drought next year.”

Projects include the installation of temporary pipelines and pumps, drilling and installation of new water wells, well-enhancement projects, and a groundwater monitoring effort. These investments will help preserve permanent crops and associated jobs in an area that is experiencing a prolonged drought, economic hardship and some of the highest unemployment rates in the United States.

With the assistance of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Native American projects were identified that will assist in meeting the water supply needs of tribal communities impacted by the drought. The funds for the Gray Lodge, Pixley and Volta Wildlife Refuges will not only assist in protecting the environment by providing more reliable water sources for the refuges but will make more water available for other uses.

The $40 million investment in these projects is part of President Barack Obama's $1 billion investment of ARRA funding provided by the Department of the Interior for water projects across the West. In April, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced $260 million in ARRA funding to address California's current drought conditions and meet the State's long-term water supply infrastructure needs. The total funding for California water-related activities under the Interior portion of ARRA is $391 million to expand water supplies, repair aging water infrastructure and address drought mitigation.

In addition to ARRA funding for drought, Reclamation has approved 265,000 acre feet of water transfers this year to help get water where it is needed most. Reclamation and the California Department of Water Resources have created a Drought Water Bank, a measure that will make additional supplies of water obtainable now and in future times of drought or shortage. The Drought Water Bank acquisition team may purchase water from willing sellers upstream of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and transfer the water to willing buyers using State Water Project or Central Valley Project facilities.

Reclamation also administers the Challenge Grant Program that funds proposals from irrigation and water districts that want to leverage their money and resources in partnership with Reclamation to make more efficient use of existing water supplies through water conservation and water marketing projects. Funding is also available to promote water use efficiency projects such as irrigation system upgrades and water conservation education programs, and address/improve Best Management Practices.

Secretary Salazar has pledged unprecedented levels of transparency and accountability in the implementation of the Department's economic recovery projects. The public will be able to follow the progress of each project on and on Secretary Salazar has appointed a Senior Advisor for Economic Recovery, Chris Henderson, and an Interior Economic Recovery Task Force to work closely with Interior's Inspector General and ensure the recovery program is meeting the high standards for accountability, responsibility, and transparency set by President Obama.

For more information, please see the links below:


Project List:

Project Map:

Project Summaries:

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