The proposed Sites Reservoir will receive a $6 million investment from the federal government as part of a bipartisan spending bill that was signed during President Donald Trump’s year-end spending package.
According to a release issued by the Sites Project Authority, the funding, authorized by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, was appropriated to the Bureau of Reclamation to advance Sites Reservoir.
Congress has now appropriated roughly $10 million in WIIN Act funding to the Bureau of Reclamation for Sites Reservoir.
“The success of Sites Reservoir depends on continued support from our partners, including the federal government,” said Fritz Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority, in a press release issued by the organization. “We are grateful to our California representatives and senators who worked tirelessly to ensure Sites was included in the spending bill. Additionally, we truly appreciate that the Department of Interior requested this funding from Congress.”
Located 10 miles west of Maxwell, the reservoir site will be an off-stream storage facility that captures and stores stormwater flows in the Sacramento River — after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met — for release in dry and critical years for environmental use and for California communities, farms and businesses when it is needed.
According to the Sites Reservoir website, the region has been considered ideal for off-stream water storage since the 1980s and the proposal is widely supported by local community leaders, residents, as well as state water managers and water agencies from the Bay Area to Southern California.
“Building Sites Reservoir would bring California closer to achieving a drought-resilient water system,” said Congressman John Garamendi. “Our state needs to make forward-looking investments to meet its future water supply needs, and Sites will benefit farmers, our communities, and the environment. I’m pleased to have helped secure an additional $6 million in federal funding for this crucial project, and I won’t rest until Sites is fully constructed.”
Up to half of the project’s annual water supplies will be provided for environmental flows, which will help to improve conditions for Delta smelt; help preserve cold-water pools in Shasta later into the summer months to support salmon development, spawning and rearing; and improve the Pacific Flyway habitat for migratory birds and other native species, according to a press release.
In 2018, the project was also awarded $816 million in funding from California’s Proposition 1 water bond and secured a $449 million investment from the United States Department of Agriculture. Project officials in the past have estimated that it would cost up to $5.1 billion to construct Sites, according to Appeal-Democrat archives.
On top of the federal funding announcement, Gov. Gavin Newsom recently included Sites Reservoir in the state’s 2020 Water Resilience Portfolio, which is a list of recommended actions compiled by state agencies meant to ensure the state’s long-term water resilience and ecosystem health.
Under the category of expanding surface water storage where it can benefit water supply and the environment, the document recommends the state “accelerate state permitting and approvals of projects selected under the Water Storage Investment Program (Proposition 1)” such as Sites Reservoir, in a manner that protects and enhances fish and wildlife and water reliability
“I’m pleased to earn Governor Newsom’s full-throated support for this off-stream reservoir, and I strongly support his proposal to expedite state permitting and approval requirements for the project,” Garamendi said.