SACRAMENTO – In an effort to help Californians through the dismal water supply, officials from state and federal agencies announced Wednesday they are providing additional funding for water conservation efforts.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide up to $1 million grants for water districts and associated growers to conserve water and improve water management.The NRCS has up to $14 million available to allocate to local agencies.
In the 160 years of record keeping, 2013 ended as the driest calendar year.
NRCS commissioner Michael Connor compared the drought of the 1976-77 water year to the current drought situation. In addition to the lack of rain for the first three months of the rainy season, California's increased population is another factor to add into the equation.
"In 1977, the population was 22 million. The population is 38 million now," Conner said.
Connor said the bureau knew the state was headed into a drought at the end of the 2013 summer season.
"At that time, we stream-lined the process for water transfers within the state," Conner explained
In the days leading to Wednesday's announcement, the NRCS reduced flows one month early to San Joaquin River Restoration Program. In addition, pumping operations have been restricted at the Jones Pumping Plant, located in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay Delta near Tracy.
The agencies are combining resources to help manage the available water supply in order to preserve water storage and protect public health and safety.