SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – The California Department of Water Resources is preparing to release millions of previously unallocated bond funds to help water districts with long-term drought relief.

The $200 million comes from a 2006 general obligation bond, Proposition 84, approved to help regional water systems.

“The governor last month said, hey, we’ve got a serious drought. Let’s take some of that money from that bond and get it out the door for the same purposes it would be used anyway, but let’s do it more quickly,” said Nancy Vogel with the Department of Water Resources.

The department has now released a draft package of rules to get the money, using a streamlined grant application approach. Vogel said examples of eligible projects include those focused on cleaning up contaminated groundwater, building water recycling plants or the infrastructure needed to get recycled water to parks or median strips.

“There could be cities that want money to help install smart water meters at parks, so that sprinklers don’t go on in the rain for example,” said Vogel. “Those are all things that can help save water.”

Among the guidelines for eligible projects – those that increase local water supply reliability and the delivery of safe drinking water, assist water suppliers and regions to implement conservation programs and measures that are not locally cost-effective, and those that reduce water quality conflicts or ecosystem conflicts created by the drought.

Public comment on the draft rules will be taken until May 15th, and by this fall, the department will announce projects that have been awarded the money.