The Sites Reservoir has been a controversial topic that has expanded many decades – until recently the project has been given light after California experiences one of the driest years on record. In March, Congressmen John Garamendi, and Congressmen Doug LaMalfa announced a bipartisan bill titled the ‘Sacramento Valley Water Storage and Restoration Act of 2014’ that will authorize a feasibility study and construction of Sites Reservoir in Colusa County.
“If this had been started many years ago, we wouldn’t be in this dire situation,” said Williams Council Member, John Troughton, “We should show our support to help push this topic forward.”
The Sites Reservoir is proposed to add flexibility to the state’s water management system and provide a enhanced water supply, and reliability for the urban, agricultural, and environmental uses.
The proposed site for the reservoir is off stream, and will inundate grassland that is currently used for cattle grazing.
Most of the water stored in Sites would be diverted from the Sacramento River using existing facilities on the river at Red Bluff and north of Hamilton City. Water from these diversions will be ferried through the existing Tehama-‐Colusa and the Glen-‐Colusa Canals to Sites. Additionally, a third river diversion and pipeline is expected to be constructed north of Colusa, on Highway 45.
Once completed the Sites Reservoir is estimated to hold a capacity of 1.8 million acre-feet, with a construction costs an estimated 3.2 billion dollars. Annual maintenance and operation cost of $21 million.
Although the project appears to be beneficial, many council members seek additional information before they make their decision.
“If am not sure if I want to give my support with the limited information that I know of,” said council member Angela Fulcher, “I am worried about the displacement of landowners and want to make an informed decision.”
Approximately 80 families own the 14,000 acres that is proposed for the reservoir project – thus includes about 10 homes.
“I haven’t had enough time to speak with landowners to get their opinion,” said council member Keith Boes, “I would like more time to speak with the land owners.”
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.
“This project will benefit us, and our lifeblood,” added Troughton, “If we show our support, maybe everyone else will jump on board.”
The topic was tabled to the May 21st, 2014 at the regular City Council Meeting, for further discussion.