The Pajaro Regional Water Management Group is getting ready to update the Pajaro River Watershed Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Plan. The original plan, which was adopted in 2007, includes projects and programs that could meet the region’s needs for water supply reliability, water quality, flood protection, and environmental protection. Since the plan was adopted, a number of projects have been completed, new projects have been identified, and the need for some projects has changed. In addition, in order for projects in the IRWM Plan to be eligible for funding, the plan needs to be updated to meet new State requirements.
In February 2011, the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) approved a $1 million grant to the region for updating the IRWM Plan and completing several special studies related to water supply, water quality, flood protection, and habitat protection. The special studies include:
· the College Lake Management Study to enhance water supply, flood protection, and steelhead habitat (sponsored by the County of Santa Cruz)
· salt and nutrient management planning to protect water quality while expanding the use of recycled water (sponsored by Pajaro Valley Water Management Agency, San Benito County Water District, and Santa Clara Valley Water District)
· a watershed study to assess and model sediment transport in the Pajaro and San Benito Rivers (sponsored by the Pajaro River Watershed Flood Prevention Authority).
The Regional Water Management Group is currently working with DWR on the grant funding agreement and anticipates initiating the IRWM update work in October 2011. Initial update work will include reviewing the governance structure and goals and objectives. Other work will include updating the project list and project prioritization process. The Regional Water Management Group is looking forward to working with stakeholders to make sure the water resources management needs of the Pajaro River Watershed are captured in the updated IRWM Plan.
The Regional Water Management Group is also continuing to track grant funding opportunities. Approximately $30 million is available for the Central Coast through DWR’s IRWM program. The Pajaro River Watershed is one of six regions that are eligible for the funding. The hope is that all the regions in the Central Coast will agree on an equitable funding allocation.
Central Coast Funding Area
Six regions in the Central Coast funding area are eligible to receive Prop 84 IRWM implementation funding. Originally, we anticipated that $5.77 million would be available to the entire Central Coast. Based on the new information, up to $11.5 million may be available. The RWMG anticipates that at least three other Central Coast regions will be submitting grant applications, with funding requests totaling more than $13 million. All the regions in the Central Coast are engaged in ongoing discussions about how we can coordinate our grant funding applications to ensure equitable benefits and reduce competition for funding. If successful, this would reduce grant application costs and improve certainty in funding.
The Santa Cruz County RWMG has also decided to forego a Round 1 funding application. The Greater Monterey County RWMG has not yet made a decision regarding Round 1.
Application Costs and Competitiveness
Grant applications are expensive to prepare. The planning grant application that was submitted with a budget of about $50,000 and did not include the technical and economic analyses that are required for an implementation grant application. The RWMG anticipates that an implementation grant application would cost $100,000 or more to prepare. Other regions anticipate even higher grant application costs.
The State’s scoring criteria emphasize costs and benefits. Forty-five (45) of 85 points are for costs and benefits in the areas of water supply, water quality and other, and flood damage reduction. To be competitive, applications need to provide benefits in all these areas and document their technical and economic feasibility. In addition, the applications need to demonstrate a readiness to proceed. The RWMG believes that the region would be better positioned to submit a competitive grant application in the next round of IRWM implementation funding.