Funding for the CA Small Community Drought Relief Program

The State of California Natural Resources Agency Department of Water Resources (DWR) is accepting applications for the Small Community Drought Relief Program. There is approximately $192 million available to respond to the 2021 drought.

What is the purpose of the program? The intent of the Small Community Drought Relief Program (Program) is to provide immediate and near-term financial and technical support to help small communities survive this and future droughts. Financial support includes grants for recipients to implement projects that satisfy program objectives. Technical support includes, but is not limited to, DWR directly providing project management, engineering, and construction management services to construct infrastructure for beneficiaries where it will best serve the program objectives.

The Program aims to implement needed resiliency measures and infrastructure improvements for small water suppliers and rural communities. The Program will support projects and programs that provide immediate and near-term water supply reliability benefits and improve small communities’ drought and water shortage resiliency and preparedness.

What are the program’s objectives?

The specific objectives are to implement projects that provide reliable water supply sources, improve water system storage, replace aging and leaking pipelines, and provide alternative power sources for operation (emergency generators). Potential projects include emergency and permanent interties, well deepening, second well, fixing or replacing leaking water lines, construction or upgrade of intake structures, additional water storage facilities, and tanks.

The Program will also provide funding for hauled water, temporary community water tanks, bottled water, water vending machines, and emergency water interties, as a bridge to more permanent and drought resilient solutions.

Who is eligible to apply? Eligible applicants include:

  • Public agencies (e.g., Counties, cities)
  • Public utilities
  • Special districts (e.g., school districts, community service districts, irrigation districts, flood control districts, reclamation districts)
  • Colleges and universities
  • Mutual water companies
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Federally recognized Indian tribes
  • State Indian tribes listed on the Native American Heritage Commission's California Tribal Consultation List

What are eligible project types? Eligible projects for the Small Community Drought Relief Program are in counties included in Governor Newsom’s state of emergency proclamations for 2021. Any county or jurisdiction included in a future drought proclamation by the Governor or for circumstances for which the State Water Resource Control Board (SWRCB) determines that drought conditions necessitate urgent and immediate action to ensure availability of safe drinking water, to protect public health and safety, will also qualify for funding.

To be eligible for the Small Community Drought Relief Program funding, projects must be designed to benefit small communities and rural communities. Eligible projects must address one or more program objectives. Examples of projects that meet the intent of the Program may include:

  1. Transporting water via truck from source to beneficiary community.
  2. Transporting water via rail from source to beneficiary community.
  3. Installing temporary water tanks at locations for community use.
  4. Installing temporary water tanks at private homes, if deemed feasible and necessary by Program.
  5. Distribution of bottled water for drinking.
  6. Installing of potable water vending machines at public places for community consumption.
  7. Constructing emergency water interties.
  8. Drilling of new community wells.
  9. Rehabilitation of existing water system wells.
  10. Equipping of new wells.
  11. Equipping of existing wells.
  12. Installation of well-head treatment.
  13. Connections to adjacent water systems.
  14. Recycled water projects that provide immediate relief to potable water supplies.
  15. Installation of water system pipelines.
  16. Installation of booster pump stations.
  17. Installation of water intake works.
  18. Installation of water storage tanks.
  19. Construction of other projects that support immediate and near-term drought response.

What is the project period? The project period for this program is three years and must be completed by June 30, 2024.

What are the funding levels? A total of $192 million is available for grant funding under this program.

What is the funding match/cost sharing requirement for this program? No cost-share is required, but it is encouraged.  

When are applications due? Applications will be processed as they are received until funds are exhausted or until December 29, 2023, whichever comes first. Applications and supporting documentation received after this date will not be reviewed or considered for funding.

The Guidelines for the Small Community Drought Relief Program can be found here.

For more information on this grant or how to apply with Morrison’s assistance, please contact the Morrison Grants Team by email at or call us at 530-893-4764.


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