Westlands farmers awarded $4m through LandFlex program to minimize groundwater footprint

Close to 2,422 acre-feet of groundwater will remain in the aquifer of the Westside Subbasin thanks to a grant from The California Department of Water Resources (DWR). Farmers in the Westlands Water District Groundwater Sustainability Agency (GSA), which manages the groundwater in the Westside Subbasin, and three other GSAs were eligible to receive funding through the LandFlex Program (LandFlex).

During the 2-week application window for the LandFlex program, farmers in Westlands submitted over 40 million dollars worth of projects, spanning 11,100 acres. Eight applications were selected to receive a total of $3,999,523 to implement their projects. The demand for the program led to an increase in available funds, to be distributed amongst the four GSAs, from an initial $12 million to $18 million. Priority was given to projects that would have a positive benefit on drinking water wells. Awarded funds will be used to promote water conservation and climate-resilient agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley by limiting agricultural groundwater use.

“We’d like to extend our sincere congratulations to the 8 farms awarded LandFlex grants and appreciation to DWR for providing these funds,” said Allison Febbo, General Manager, Westlands Water District. “Forty-five eligible farmers in Westlands submitted applications for LandFlex grant funding – underscoring the importance of investment in programs that support our farmers’ commitment to improving our region’s climate resilience by implementing practices that promote a sustainable groundwater supply.”

LandFlex incentivizes growers to permanently reduce pressure on aquifers and transition to sustainable farming practices by providing grant funding for the following actions:

  • Provide Immediate Drought Relief by Fallowing Land
  • Overdraft/Sustainability Payment
  • Transition to More Climate-Resilient Ag Practices

The application period for the LandFlex program opened on June 14th and closed on June 28th. Farmers in GSAs submitted their applications and were evaluated per DWR’s guidelines and GSA-specific priorities. Grant recipients plan to use the funding for permanent crop removal and groundwater recharge.

Febbo added, “The District is committed to working with our farmers and District communities on implementing projects and programs including groundwater recharge and land repurposing that both provide for a sustainable groundwater supply and maximize the benefits of the land.”

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