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Sites Reservoir Plan Publicly Criticized by Conservation Groups

Proposed site of Sites Reservoir. Photo: Sacramento River Preservation Trust

As California continues to create new water storage initiatives, the leading project has gained bipartisan support throughout the state. That project is the Sites Reservoir, 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.

Although the support for the project has been unwavering thus far, a formal letter sent by 27 conservation groups to the Sites Project Authority (SPA) voices criticism over the project.

The groups criticizing the project include fishermen, Native Americans and environmental organizations, citing impacts to salmon populations and water quality. The groups allege that the coalition responsible for developing the project have left out key facts in their environmental review which downplays the impact on the local ecosystem.

The group wants the SPA to revise its Environmental Impact Statement and Report (EIR) addressing important environmental concerns and recirculate to the public for comment.

“The inadequacy of the DEIS/EIR was clearly pointed out in comment letters by numerous organizations and individuals, including many of our organizations and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife,” the group said in the letter.

The group sites the project’s impacts on the local tributaries as a cause for concern.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has recommended a much higher minimum bypass flow in the Sacramento River than is being proposed by the SPA,” read the letter. “The impacts to the Sacramento River fishery have not been adequately described in the DEIS/EIR.”

Map of proposed Sites Reservoir

Supporters of the Sites Reservoir claim this is just a non-local groups who are looking to fight any building projects in the area.

“Sadly, we learned today a group of out-of-town environmentalists has partnered in opposition to the Sites Reservoir project,” said North State Builds on Twitter.

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 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.

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