The Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) program is a voluntary statewide planning and implementation program designed to incentivize regional collaboration among multiple water agencies towards the implementation of multi-benefit projects. The IRWM program, which is administered by the Department of Water Resources (DWR), offers grant funding to IRWM groups for projects that support integrated regional water management planning and implementation, optimize water supply and reliability, protect or improve water quality, and enhance ecosystems. Since the creation of the program, 50 IRWM groups have been formed.
IRWM creates a unique opportunity for diverse stakeholders to come together and manage all water-related needs, identify common water challenges and advance shared solutions. Working together and leveraging limited resources can lead to more effective, affordable, water solutions and more reliable water supplies.
IRWM allows communities to inform and invest in water management thus enabling them to build resiliency and be less vulnerable to future droughts and climate change.
Why communities should participate:
- Identify Water-Related Challenges and Needs: Communities can share important information about their water needs and help set goals and priorities for the region, which can lead to better water management decisions and projects.
- Obtain funding: Communities may submit projects through the IRWM program to obtain funding to address current critical water needs, promote water conservation improve water quality and/or build resiliency. Communities may also have the opportunity to review and rank projects proposed by other water users (referred to as stakeholders).
- Improve Water Supply & Sustainability: Management of the groundwater is critical to protecting the local water supply and preparing for future droughts. Communities who are involved in the IRWM program, may provide feedback on actions and projects that may benefit their region, while also sustaining and strengthening the IRWM goals.
Over $1.5 billion in voter-approved State bonds have been provided to the Integrated Regional Water Management Program since it began in 2002. The most recent voter approved bond, Proposition 1 (Prop 1), provided $510 million for DWR to award IRWM grants to 12 Funding Areas in California.
At minimum of 10% of the funding allocated to each Funding Area is reserved for projects that directly benefit Disadvantaged Communities (DACs). Each Funding Area will then have funds available through two (2) funding categories: 1) General Implementation Projects and 2) DAC Implementation Projects. Disadvantaged communities can request funds from either category.
DWR released Round 1 of funding in 2019. Final funding awards for Round 1 are listed here.
The Round 2 solicitation process will begin in Summer 2021. If you are interested in pursuing Round 2 funding, we encourage you to attend the Prop 1 IRWM Implementation Grant Program Round 1 Survey Results and Round 2 Concepts virtual workshop taking place May 6, 2021 from 9:30 am to 11:30 am. To register for this virtual workshop, please visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/8704178661410600719?source=IRWM+List+Serve. If you have any questions about the webinar, please contact: California Department of Water Resources at DWR_IRWM@water.ca.gov or IRWM Roundtable of Regions at: email@example.com.
SHE’s service area overlaps two of the twelve funding areas: Tulare-Kern and the San Joaquin River. The Tulare-Kern Funding Area (TKFA) has been allocated $34 million. The San Joaquin River (SJRFA) has been allocated $31 million. DWR is proposing to release the Prop 1 funding in two solicitation rounds (2019 and 2020).
The Community Engagement and Planning team within Self-Help Enterprises’ Community Development Department is working with several Integrated Regional Water Management Groups located within the Tulare-Kern and San Joaquin River Funding areas in order to assist them with the implementation of their Disadvantaged Community Involvement Program, which aims to improve community participation in IRWM activities.
Within the Tulare-Kern Funding Area, which encompasses most of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare Counties, SHE was awarded $550,000 to implement the Disadvantaged Community Education and Engagement Program (DACEEP). The DACEEP is focused on improving understanding of community water needs and the IRWM process as well as encouraging DAC participation and engagement in IRWM activities.
In the San Joaquin River Funding Area (SJRFA), which encompasses most of San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera Counties, as well as parts of Contra Costa and Sacramento County, SHE was awarded over $120,000 to support the community water needs assessment, conduct outreach and build community capacity on the IRWM DACI Program. Under the SJRFA, SHE is also assisting the Madera Regional Water Management Group implement a community capacity and engagement program and pilot a private well testing program.