Grants handed out as drought continues
Grants totalling $17m have been handed out for water-saving programmes that try to address the current drought in California.The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) announced it had awarded money to more than 50 applicants.
More than $4m will be handed out to programmes and projects in disadvantaged communities, department chiefs said.
The grants follow Governor Schwarzenegger's declaration of drought conditions in the state and call for urgent action in June.
Forecasters are predicting that if the dry conditions persist, next year could bring even greater problems.
Wendy Martin, the drought coordinator for the DWR, said: "These grants are an important first step to help communities respond to California's critically dry conditions and prepare for the potential of a third year of drought.
"2009 has the potential to be the worst drought in California's history and the time to prepare for that drought is now.
"That's why the department has expedited the funding of these drought assistance grants and is committed to providing ongoing support for the communities facing hardship associated with the drought."
The list of successful applicants has been whittled down from nearly 300 applications requesting more than $72m.
One of the largest grants was for nearly $2m to the Sacramento Regional Water Authority, which plans to use the money to install water meters, provide washing rebates and run public education schemes.
More than a quarter of a million dollars will be used by the California Rural Water Association to help disadvantaged rural communities detect leaks.
The Inland Empire Utilities Agency has been granted $1m to retrofit irrigation systems while the East Bay Municipal Utility District will receive $250,000 for a high-efficiency toilet rebate program.
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