CWA approves Prop. 84 grant application – Santa Margarita River management, ag efficiency among projects

The San Diego County Water Authority board approved the SDCWA’s submittal of a Proposition 84 grant application to the state Department of Water Resources.

The CWA’s Jan. 24 board vote authorizes a $10.3 million grant application for seven projects, including nutrient management in the Santa Margarita River watershed and a turf replacement and agricultural irrigation efficiency program.

Proposition 84, which was approved by the state’s voters in November 2006, authorized $1 billion for integrated regional water management programs including $91 million to the San Diego hydrologic region. Grant applications for the current cycle must be submitted by March 29. A workgroup of nine technical experts analyzed twelve applications submitted by local sponsors and selected seven of those projects for funding. The total project costs will be approximately $57 million while the grant will cover $9.991 million for the projects and $309,000 for CWA administration.

The project sponsors will take the lead on the projects whose grants will be administered through the CWA. The County of San Diego will take the lead on the project to implement nutrient management in the Santa Margarita River watershed. The grant is for Phase II of the project and will continue the facilitation of the Stakeholder Advisory Group convened during Phase I, continue the core monitoring and special studies to address data gaps identified by the stakeholders, and partner with Regional Water Quality Control Board staff to develop nutrient standards for the river and its estuaries. The grant application will be for $980,000; the county will be required to provide a minimum local funding match of 25 percent.

“We’re always encouraged by grant money going towards the Santa Margarita watershed given its importance to both FPUD and the Marine Corps,” said Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Brian Brady, who is also FPUD’s representative on the CWA board of directors.

The CWA is sponsoring the turf replacement and agricultural irrigation efficiency program and would receive a $538,000 grant award while providing matching funds of $179,000. The CWA will partner with the Mission Resource Conservation District and the City of San Diego to implement the project which provides financial incentives to replace turf grass with water-wise plant material and to upgrade overhead sprinkler systems to low-application systems with higher efficiency, to provide incentives to agricultural customers to retrofit on-site potable irrigation systems, and to provide water audits which will assist growers in adopting techniques to increase water use efficiency without risking crop productivity. All qualified retail water customers within the CWA service area will be eligible to participate in the program.

The Rural Community Assistance Corporation sponsored a $1,887,000 grant application which would be used for project development and construction in disadvantaged rural communities. The projects selected for funding include a new well and finished water storage both for the Rancho Estates Mutual Water Company in Pauma Valley and for the Pauma Valley Mutual Water Company.

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