Skip to content
Go to News

Free Groundwater Technical Assistance for Tribes, Underrepresented Communities, and Small Farmers

The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) is offering groundwater technical assistance services at no cost to eligible tribes, underrepresented communities, and small farmers in Sustainable Groundwater Management Act (SGMA)-regulated subbasins in California (Underrepresented Communities Technical Assistance Program (URC TA Program).

List of technical assistance services available to small farmers includes, but is not limited, to the following:

  • Groundwater level monitoring, including instrumentation installation and training
  • Aquifer testing to determine long-term yield and supply
  • Identification of new/additional water sources
  • Funding support
  • Analysis of well interference
  • Analysis of existing well condition using downhole video log and pump testing
  • Facilitation of water well and/or pump construction and/or repair (well location, design, and construction oversight)
  • Coordination and facilitation on GSA matters
  • Preparation and support submitting relevant applications
  • Soil moisture monitoring
  • Training
  • Expert witness testimony
  •  Groundwater quality testing and treatment
  • Groundwater impact analysis (for depletion, land subsidence, GDE depletion, etc.)
  • Rehabilitation of water storage tank
  • Long-term water supply and demand analysis
  • Analysis and support to facilitate water transfers

The Community Alliance with Small Farmers (CAFF) and DWR have created a working definition of a small farmer. DWR is taking public comment on this definition up to June 30, 2024.  Comments can be sent to

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines a small farmer as an operation with gross cash farm annual income under $350,000. Within this definition are commercial and noncommercial farms. The USDA and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) define a socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher as a member of a group subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as members of a group without regard to their individual qualities. These groups include African Americas, Native American Indians, Alaskan Natives, Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. The USDA goes further to include “historically underserved farmers or ranches,” including beginning, socially disadvantaged, veterans, and limited resource farmers and ranchers.

Therefore, for the purpose of this program and use of funds, DWR will define a small farmer as meeting two or more of the following criteria:

  1. Limited-resource farm households with low farm sales and low household income for two years in a row. Low farm sales meant direct or indirect gross farms sales less than $350,000, and low household income means less than 85 percent of the median household income (MHI).
  2. A ranch or farm that is 50 acres or less operated by a farmer or rancher who qualifies as a socially disadvantaged, beginning, or veteran farmer or rancher.
  3. An owner that is socially disadvantaged and subjected to racial, ethnic, or gender prejudice because of their identity as a member of a group without regard to their individual qualities. This includes women-owned farms or ranches.
  4. Beginning farmers or ranchers who have materially and substantially participated in the operation of any farm or ranch for 10 years or less. All operators of the farm or ranch must be a beginning farmers or ranchers to qualify under this definition. A beginning farmer or rancher can also qualify if they have undergone a transformation in agricultural processes in the last 10 years and are using a regenerative agricultural process, indigenous farming methods, cover crops, agroforestry, permaculture, or any other farming and ranching practices that result in a regeneration of the soils to increase carbon sequestration.

A veteran farmer or rancher is a person who served in the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard, including the reserve components thereof, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.

If you are interested in hearing more about the program, please contact Jane Gray at or (805) 308-8531, or email

Related News

See all