South OC Watershed Management Area

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The South Orange County Watershed Management Area (SOCWMA) Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) Group is re-opening the Call for Projects and soliciting projects for Proposition 1 - Round 1.

The Call for Projects will open May 22, 2019, for applicants that want their projects to be considered for potential grant funding, and that meet the eligibility requirements.

Call for Projects Overview

Projects submitted will be assessed and ranked alongside the projects submitted for consideration in the first call for projects (November 2018 through January 2019). Existing projects that submitted during the first call period may update information included on their applications; however, it is requested that project proponents contact County staff prior to re-submitting to ensure submittals do not constitute a new project.  

Information will be posted to the SOCWMA website at 

Why is the Call for Projects Being Re-opened?

The Department of Water Resources (DWR) released the Final Proposition 1 IRWM Grant Program documents on April 22, 2019. The significant changes are summarized below, including a call-out for a key change to project eligibility (highlighted in yellow): 

·         CEQA and permitting must be completed within 12 months of the final grant award (Draft PSP said 6 months)


o   Projects that provide at least 75% of benefits to DACs, EDAs, and/or tribes are exempt

o   Regional grant agreement will be executed only with projects that have CEQA and permits compete; An amendment will be required to add project(s) that acquire CEQA and permits within 12 months of grant award; Once 12 months has passed, project(s) will be deemed ineligible for funding and grant will be reduced by the project amount

·         To qualify as a DAC project, 75% of benefits must benefit a DAC area (Draft PSP said 100%)

o   DAC projects include DACs only as defined by Water Code §79505.5(a) = 80% of Statewide MHI

·         Acknowledges that federally recognized Tribes are protected by doctrine of sovereign immunity; Tribes will be consulted on government-to-government basis prior to execution of grant agreement (this is new section in 2019 Guidelines)

·         A “Climate Change” attachment has been added to the final application requirements


For your reference, the Final Prop 1 IRWM Grant program documents can be found here: 


Available Funding: approximately $2.3 million for the SOCWMA IRWM Region

Minimum Project Cost Share: 50% of total project cost (full and partial waivers available for disadvantaged communities and economically distressed areas)

Eligible Applicants: public agencies, non-profit organizations, public utilities, Tribes, and mutual water companies

Project Requirements:

  • Address critical need(s) of the IRWM Region
  • Be consistent with Statewide Priorities
  • Expected useful life of at least 15 years (if applicable)
  • CEQA completed and permits necessary to begin construction acquired within 12 months of funding award. The final grant award is tentatively anticipated to be awarded in March 2020, which would mean CEQA and permitting would be due by March 2021. Projects that provide at least 75% of benefits to DACs, EDAs, and/or tribes are exempt from this deadline. Note: project sponsors will not be reimbursed until CEQA and permits are completed.

Project Submittals Due: May 22, 2019 

The SOC WMA includes the area that encompasses the San Juan Hydrologic Unit (SJHU) in South Orange County as defined in the Water Quality Control Plan of the San Diego Basin.

The SJHU is a collection of coastal watersheds that covers 496 square miles in San Diego, Orange, and Riverside counties. The SJHU is naturally divided by major water bodies and represents an important water resource in one of the most arid regions of the nation. It is comprised of seven major watersheds: 1) Newport Coast, 2) Laguna Coastal Streams, 3) Aliso Creek, 4) Dana Point Coastal Streams (Salt Creek), 5) San Juan Creek, 6) San Clemente Coastal Streams, and 7) San Mateo Creek, and two groundwater basins: 1) San Juan Groundwater Basin and 2) San Mateo Groundwater Basin.

In 2004, the South Orange County Integrated Regional Water Management Group (Group) was formed by the County, South Orange County cities, water, and special districts located within the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board’s region. This Group was formed for two main purposes: short-term to prepare a South Orange County Integrated Regional Watershed Management Plan (IRWMP) and subsequent grant application in 2005 for Prop 50 funds; and long-term to provide an integrated and coordinated local water resources planning function.