Last week, Congressmen John Garamendi and Doug LaMalfa officially introduced H.R. 4300, the Sacramento Valley Water Storage and Restoration Act of 2014.
The bill would authorize construction of Sites Reservoir in Colusa County, California upon completion of the feasibility study.
“Construction of Sites Reservoir would bring California one major step closer to a drought-proof water system. It has support across the aisle and across the state. I will continue to work with Doug and local stakeholders to move this project across the finish line,” said Congressman Garamendi, a former Deputy Secretary of the Department of Interior.
When enacted, the legislation would create significant off-stream storage capacity that would increase water supply, throughout California.
The leadership and members of the Sites Project Joint Powers Authority (Sites JPA) strongly support the legislation. The Sites JPA is a consortium of local water agencies and Counties who are united behind a shared goal of constructing the Sites Reservoir Project. Members of the Sites JPA include Glenn County, Colusa County, the Reclamation District No. 108, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, the Maxwell Irrigation District and Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District.
“We know that Sites Reservoir is needed to allow our California’s economy to continue to grow, to ensure that our cities have a secure water supply and to keep our agricultural sector strong. This project’s merits are recognized by lawmakers of both parties, water suppliers, cities, agriculture and environmental groups, and our drought would not be as dire had it already been built,” said Congressman LaMalfa.
The many benefits that will result from the construction of Sites reservoir were summarized by Sites JPA Chair Fritz Durst, “Construction of Sites Reservoir will improve statewide water reliability in a manner that protects and enhances the lifeblood of our economy while also providing the necessary water to conserve our rich wildlife and natural resources.”
The bill sets a deadline for the completion of the feasibility study and if deemed feasible, authorizes construction of the storage reservoir. The bill also creates a process by which a non-federal sponsor could develop the project. Once completed, Sites Reservoir would provide 1.9 million acre feet of water storage capacity for Northern California and would help residents prepare for droughts like the one currently hurting the state.
Congressman LaMalfa is the lead sponsor and Congressman Garamendi is the original co-sponsor of the legislation. The Congressmen jointly developed the bill with local stakeholders, primarily the Sites Joint Powers Authority (JPA), a regional consortium of local water agencies and counties who joined together in 2010 to advocate for the project.
Kim Vann, Colusa County Supervisor and Alternate Director of the Sites JPA highlighted the importance of expeditious congressional consideration of this measure, “With the eyes of this country focused on California’s historic drought, it is vital that we work jointly to seize this opportunity to develop the infrastructure needed to store additional water at Sites Reservoir and beyond. Doing so will go a long way toward enhancing operational efficiency of the Central Valley Project while also serving to mitigate the impacts of similar droughts going forward.”