Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue continued their tour through Northern California on Tuesday with a big announcement regarding water storage in California. Following a visit to the burned area of Paradise, the federal government representatives traveled to Colusa County to announce a $449 million grant for the Sites Reservoir Project.
The secretaries were joined by Rep. Jeff Denham, Rep. David Valadao, Rep. Jim Costa and Rep. John Garamendi to tour the area proposed for the new reservoir before holding a roundtable discussion on the project.
.@SecretaryZinke & @SecretarySonny join other CA leaders & #SitesProject representatives in Colusa County today to announce $449M in federal funding that will help #BuildSites. Important investment in CA water infrastructure! pic.twitter.com/SqhVXT3C0o
— Sites Project (@SitesProject) November 27, 2018
The $449 million grant will fund a pipeline that will connect the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District Main Canal with the Tehama-Colusa Canal, called the Maxwell Water Intertie. Eventually, the waterway will be used to pipe runoff from the Sacramento River into the proposed 1.8-million acre-foot Sites Reservoir.
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 water would be held in a large, desolate area and controlled by a brand new Golden Gate Dam, roughly two times the size of Folsom Dam. Here is a look at the proposed site for the reservoir:
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.
The project was recently allocated nearly a billion dollars through Proposition 1, but will need roughly $5.2 billion to complete. The Sites reservoir could begin construction in 2022, with the reservoir projected to be operational in 2029.
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.