Happy Friday, Lauren here with this week’s installment of Spotlight on the Disadvantaged Community Involvement (DACI) Program. Last week I wrote about Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) and environmental justice to provide a little background on the “why” of the DACI Program. This week, I’m going to tell you more about the program itself.
Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) has existed in some form or another since 2002, but the initiative got a boost in 2014 from the passage of Proposition (Prop) 1. Prop 1 (often referred to as the water bond) allocated $7.5 billion to fund watershed projects, some of which went to supporting the work of IRWM through Regional Water Management Groups (RWMGs). In other words, Integrated Regional Water Management is the idea, and Regional Water Management Groups are the collaboratives that execute that idea.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR), in order to address issues of environmental justice (like the ones I wrote about last week), set aside some funding to increase participation of disadvantaged communities in RWMGs. This money is administered through the DACI Program grant for a funding period of three years. That’s where Sierra Institute comes in. We, the Laurens, are coordinating this grant for the Mountain Counties Funding Area (MCFA), an area comprising most of the Sierra Nevada and including nine participating RWMGs.
The first phase of the DACI Program will identify disadvantaged communities (a term which includes economically disadvantaged communities as well as low capacity communities, Tribes, minorities and other underserved and underrepresented populations). Disadvantaged communities (DAC) will be identified through community mapping and capacity assessments with local experts. This will supplement existing socioeconomic data to provide a more complete picture of community well-being, rather than relying solely on income measures. (The details of this process will be the focus of next week’s blog post).
Following initial identification and outreach (a process that will continue as needed), the DACI Program will assist with outreach to involve disadvantaged community members in RWMG meetings, as well as representation at the funding area level through the creation of Tribal and Disadvantaged Community Advisory Committees. Towards the latter half of the three year grant period, projects will begin to address the specific needs of communities. These projects will be guided by the findings of needs assessments, but are expected to include capacity building workshops, technical support, and project planning assistance.
And that, readers, is the DACI Program in a nutshell.
See you next week!