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Water Desalination Grant Program Overview

DWR provides grants to local agencies for the planning, design, and construction of water desalination facilities for both brackish and ocean water. It also provides grants for pilot, demonstration, and research projects. DWR conducted three rounds of funding since 2005 using Proposition 50 funds. The rules and procedures for funding vary depending on funding source, availability of funds, and DWR priorities at the time of funding. A fourth round of funding is planned, using primarily Proposition 1 funds.

Each round of funding generally begins with the drafting of a Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP), which contains detailed grant funding program rules and procedures for that round of funding. The PSP has a description of types of agencies that can apply, types of projects that can be funded, instructions for application, the proposal review process, and the criteria for proposal selection for funding. The draft PSP is issued for public comment. After adoption of a final PSP, the application period begins. Applications received by the deadline are reviewed according to the selection criteria, and a draft list of proposals recommended for grant funding is released for public comment. The finally selected projects are awarded funding.

DWR uses an on-line application tool called GRanTS. An applicant must register to establish an account in GRanTS. Detailed procedures are described in the PSP applicable to the current round of funding.

Applicants of awarded projects must enter into a grant agreement (contract). Grant disbursements generally occur after costs are incurred and are provided after review of expense documentation provided by the grantee with invoices. After project completion, there may be annual reporting for up to five years to describe briefly the results of the project.

Rounds of Funding

The first three rounds of funding used funds authorized by Proposition 50. The next, fourth round will use funds mostly from Proposition 1 with remnants of Proposition 50 funds. The following links provide more information on each round:

Sources of Funds: Proposition 50

In November 2002, California voters passed Proposition 50, the Water Security, Clean Drinking Water, Coastal and Beach Protection Act of 2002 (incorporated into Division 26.5 of the California Water Code, beginning with section 79500) Section 79545(a) in Chapter 6 provided $50 million for grants for desalination of ocean or brackish water. Sections 79547 and 79547.2 in Chapter 6 have other conditions that apply to this funding. Subsequent to passage of Proposition 50, the California State Legislature passed “trailer bills” that contain additional requirements for implementation of Proposition 50.

Proposition 50, as passed by voters

Division 26.5 of the California Water Code, including trailer bill sections.

Sources of Funds: Proposition 1

In November 2014, California voters passed Proposition 1, a part of which is the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (California Water Code, Division 26.7, Section 79700 et seq). Chapter 9 of Proposition 1 (the proper legal reference is Chapter 9 of Division 26.7 of the Water Code, Sections 79765-79768) provides $725 million for grants/loans for water recycling and advanced treatment, including desalination projects. DWR’s Water Desalination Grant Program will incorporate the Proposition 1 desalination elements in Section 79765(b), (d), and (f). The portion of funds allocated to desalination is $100 million, 7 percent of which is reserved for bonds and program administration. Proposition 1 funding of desalination shall be administered consistent with Proposition 50 desalination programs administered pursuant to sections 79545 and 79547.2 of the Water Code. These funds will be appropriated over several years. The current plan for budgeting these funds is shown in the following table.

Voter approved General Obligation Bond
Bond Expense (2%)
State Agency Bond Financing Costs
Program Allocation
Programmatic Implementation Funding
Program Administration (5%)
Programmatic Administrative Costs
Available for Grants
Funds Available for Grant Recipients
Program Round 4
Fiscal Year (FY) 15/16 and FY 18/19 appropriation

Proposition 1 as passed by voters

Division 26.7 of the Water Code, including any addtions by later legislation.