USDA triples emergency water assistance to California

07/18/2014 03:17:00 PM
Vicky Boyd

U.S. Department of AgricultureThe U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to provide $9.7 million in emergency water assistance to 73,000 residents of 11 California counties severely affected by the drought.

The funding is triple the amount that President Barack Obama had committed to when he and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack visited the state Feb. 14 to tour drought-stricken areas, according to a news release.

The announcement follows the National Weather Service’s July 15 Drought Monitor Update that shows 81% of California is in an extreme drought.

The weather service defines the classification as “major crop/pasture losses; widespread water shortages or restrictions.” The U.S. Geological Survey considers extreme drought when weekly stream flows are only 3%-5% of average.

Through the USDA’s Emergency Community Water Assistance Grant program, 25 rural communities that have experienced a significant decline in water quality or quantity will receive expedited consideration.

The city of Farmersville, for example, will receive a $500,000 grant to construct pipelines connecting Cameron Creek Colony to the city’s water main.

About 10% of Cameron Creek Colony residents in Tulare County have no water because their wells have run dry. Others have only intermittent water supplies.

The funding is contingent upon the communities meeting terms of the grants, according to the release.

In addition, USDA Rural Development has approved grant funding to provide low-interest loans to rural homeowners for household water wells.



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