Sites Reservoir has been named as one of several water projects in the state’s final Water Resilience Portfolio released earlier this week. Five years of historic drought have underscored the need for multi-benefit, regional investments, outlined in the comprehensive water portfolio, according to a news release from Sara M. Katz of the Sites Project Authority.

The portfolio assesses and recommends a number of local and regional strategies and actions to help California plan for more extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations, aging infrastructure and population growth, according to the news release.  

“We thank the Newsom administration for their dedication to this important issue, and are pleased that our state’s leaders are committed to advancing Sites Reservoir in a way that serves the environment and water supply needs for people and farms. Just as the Water Resilience Portfolio aims to help California adapt to a changing climate and new and increased environmental stressors, so does Sites Reservoir,” said Fritz Durst, chairman for the Sites Project Authority.   

Sites is an off-stream facility that does not dam a major river system and would not block fish migration or spawning. Sites captures and stores stormwater flows from the Sacramento River – after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met – for release primarily in dry and critical years for environmental use and for California communities, farms, and businesses when it is so desperately needed. One of Sites Reservoir’s greatest strengths is in its broad statewide representation including cities, counties, water and irrigation districts throughout the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, and Southern California.  

“Sites Reservoir embodies many of the characteristics the state is looking for in the future of California’s water supply,” said Jerry Brown, executive director for the Sites Project Authority. “It’s designed with a changing climate in mind, it has broad statewide participation and support from local stakeholders, it will benefit both the environment and water supplies and provides many additional benefits including flood control, recreational features, job creation and more.” 

Sites Reservoir will increase California’s existing water supply by providing 1.5 million acre-feet of additional storage capacity to the state during times of drought. Extensive modeling has indicated that Sites Reservoir performs better and provides the most benefit to the people and environment of California, under the most challenging climate change scenarios.  

Sites Reservoir would also provide federal and state resource agencies with a dedicated and reliable supply of water they can manage to provide environmental benefits, especially during drier years. A substantial portion of the project’s water would be dedicated to environmental flows, which would help to improve conditions for Delta smelt, and help preserve the cold-water pool in Lake Shasta later into the summer months to support salmon development, spawning and rearing. In addition, it would improve the habitat for migratory birds and other native species.  

In the coming months, the Sites Project Authority will continue to strengthen partnerships with local landowners, communities, and key stakeholders that represent environmental, business, labor, and other interests and continue to pursue funding to move the project forward through the planning and feasibility stage, and into implementation beginning in 2022. 

Additional information can be found at www.sitesproject.org or on Facebook and Twitter at @SitesProject.

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