Rains Have Arrived, And DRAWS Projects Continue
January 27, 2022
Drought in California reached historic levels in 2021. In response, MALT joined several other local organizations to help Marin County farmers and ranchers address their critical water shortages. Our contribution to these efforts, the Drought Resilience and Water Security (DRAWS) initiative, not only provided much-needed emergency relief, but also is laying the groundwork for greater long-term water security throughout the county.
MALT launched DRAWS in April 2021 with a $250,000 investment from our generous donors, and we allocated an additional $250,000 to the program in June 2021. An emergency relief extension of our Stewardship Assistance Program (SAP), DRAWS awards grants that provide funding and technical assistance in designing and implementing water infrastructure projects. Importantly, DRAWS grants are available to all farmers and ranchers in Marin County, whether or not they own land protected by MALT agricultural conservation easements.
While recent rains have eased some immediate water availability concerns, years of low rainfall are an inevitable part of our future. Efforts like the DRAWS initiative are helping Marin agriculturalists secure the water sources that allow for short-term water security and stability to plan for the future.
As we begin a new calendar year, now’s a good time to take a look at what the DRAWS initiative has achieved so far.
Of the 40 projects approved for DRAWS grants:
- 28 have been completed.
- 15 are on properties not protected by MALT agricultural conservation easements; 7 of these 15 have been completed.
Of the same 40 projects, the type of projects are as follows:
- 16 projects developed new water sources, via springs and wells.
- 9 are water distribution projects that expand and connect water systems across the ranch often with pumps and pipe, but sometimes even with gravity.
- 15 projects added water storage capacity.
Cumulatively, the DRAWS projects have so far resulted in:
- 11 developed or re-developed springs.
- 15 new water pumps, with most powered by solar.
- 13 livestock water troughs.
- 36 water storage tanks, on 22 ranches, increasing total storage capacity by 131,850 gallons.
- Nearly 50,000 feet of piping (almost 10 miles!).
- A new electrical power system for a previously unproductive well.
- A water filtration system.
- A set of gutters for a rain catchment system.
In terms of impact, here are a few of the benefits that DRAWS projects have enabled:
- Many landowners have explained how their DRAWS projects helped minimize herd reductions and some have even said it made a significant difference in keeping their operations functional.
- By adding troughs or extending water pipe to deliver water to areas previously lacking a water source, ranchers can improve rotational grazing of their livestock, which allows drought-stressed fields a break from livestock pressure.
- Extending the program to properties not protected by MALT easements increases equity in the program, addresses water security at a watershed level, and allows MALT to connect with families and parts of the landscape that do not have a MALT agricultural conservation easement.
There are 12 projects that have been approved for DRAWS grants but have not completed construction. Various issues such as supply chain restraints, material shortage and early season rains have delayed construction. Stay tuned for more updates as we work through these remaining projects.
A huge thanks to everyone involved in making this DRAWS initiative such a big success—not the least of which are the many MALT supporters who stepped up to help Marin ranchers and farmers in a time of dire need by generously supporting this program.