State launches push to accelerate drought innovation

Farm sprinklers in Mettler, Calif.
A farmworker adjusts sprinklers at a farm in Mettler, Calif., south of Bakersfield.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The Brown administration’s effort to speed innovation to address the state’s endemic droughts was launched to little fanfare Tuesday.

No specific funding or timeline was included in the program posted to the California Energy Commission’s website. A spokesman for the commission said it would begin this summer and is likely to follow well-established channels for research and development grants, which can take several months to a year to pass through the process.

“This is a first cut at where we’re going,” said Al Lundeen, spokesman for the California Energy Commission, which will administer the program with the state Department of Water Resources and the State Water Resources Control Board.

Brown’s April 1 executive order on the drought outlined a Water Energy Technology program “to deploy innovative water management technologies for businesses, residents, industry and agriculture.”

Among the programs Brown seeks to accelerate are desalination powered by alternative energy, on-site water reuse, and various software and equipment approaches to economizing water use in agriculture.

Funding probably would come through the budget process, “but that’s still to be determined,” Lundeen said. 

Those seeking information on the program can sign up on the commission’s WaterSaver listserv.

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