The Sites Project Authority has announced its plans to revise and resubmit its environmental report for circulation, this time with a smaller plan. With the newly submitted plan, the project will be “right sized” from 1.8 million acre feet capacity to 1.3 to 1.5 million acre feet.
The Sites Reservoir is a proposed 13-mile lake about 10 miles west of Maxwell in Colusa County that would hold nearly 200 billion gallons of water diverted from the Sacramento River. The project has bipartisan support among California politicians and will help manage the large number of water that travels down to the San Francisco Bay from Far NorCal.
The group responsible for building the new lake will now go back to the drawing board on its Environmental Impact Report, with plans to resubmit it in the summer of 2021. Past plans have indicated that construction on the project is expected to begin in 2022 and finish in 2029. It’s unclear if this new wrinkle will delay that date.
“The Value Planning process was responsive to input from our investors, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, elected officials, landowners and local communities. By optimizing our plans for Sites Reservoir, we can design a water storage project that meets the needs of our participants and the environment today and in the future.” said Fritz Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority.
The benefits of Sites Reservoir reach well-beyond water storage and flood management (although those benefits cannot be understated) with significant ramifications for Northern California wildlife. The reservoir’s water will allow colder water to be stored higher north, like Lake Oroville and Shasta Lake, which should help future salmon runs. The area would also double as a wildlife habitat for migratory birds and other native wildlife. The project would help create another renewable energy source and provide regional and statewide jobs for Northern Californians.
Not everyone supports the Sites Reservoir. Conservation groups like the Sierra Club oppose the project, preferring conservation over water storage. Either way, these water storage projects might deter lawmakers from attempting to increase the size of the Shasta Dam, which we’ve publicly opposed.
“By creating a resilient and reliable water supply for people and the environment during dry periods, Sites Reservoir provides a unique benefit that closely aligns with Governor Newsom’s Water Resiliency Plan,” said Jerry Brown, executive director for the Sites Project Authority.
Moving forward, the Sites Reservoir Project will be a little bit smaller, but will it be on time?