In November of 2014, California voters approved $2.7 billion to increase water storage in the state. Now California is preparing for a new era of reservoir construction.
California officials have announced that eight major water storage projects in the state qualify for a share of the billions of dollars allocated by Proposition 1, including the 13-mile long Sites Reservoir in Colusa County.
Included in the water projects are multiple dams built in the Central Valley along with some East Bay Area reservoir expansions. But the major new reservoir seen in Northern California is the coveted Sites Reservoir, a $5.2 billion project that would create a massive lake fed by the Sacramento River 10 miles west of Maxwell.
With the language of Proposition 1, these reservoirs can’t just be built for water storage, but must also include ecosystem benefits, water quality, flood control, emergency response and recreation.
The Sites Reservoir could bring a massive change to Northern California. If the Sites Reservoir existed in 2018, it could have stored more than 197 billion gallons of water, enough to serve 4.5 million Californians. The lake would also give environmental flows to native fish, contribute to flood management and serve as a massive economic boost to the area from recreation.
“The Sites Project offers the state an opportunity to manage a significant amount of water to benefit wildlife and native fish in the Sacramento Watershed,” said Sites Project Authority Chairman Fritz Durst in a press release.
The Sites reservoir could begin construction in 2022, with the reservoir projected to be operational in 2029.
All of this news is refreshing to water storage proponents, while 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.
In any case, Californians can be prepared for a new era of reservoir construction and water storage in a state that is constantly in fear of drought. Let’s enjoy the ride.