U.S. Representatives John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, and Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale, introduced the Sites Reservoir Project Act last Thursday that would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a feasibility study for the project.
The proposed reservoir would be the first multipurpose water project built in 40 years that could help California’s drought resilience by providing 1.8 million acre-feet of water collected and stored off-stream during wet years to be used for drinking water, agriculture, and other uses during periods of drought, officials said.
The reservoir would be owned and operated by the Sites Joint Powers Authority, a regional consortium formed in 2010 that includes Colusa County and water agencies.
“Construction of Sites Reservoir would bring California closer to achieving a drought-resilient water system,” Garamendi said in a statement. “Our state needs to make forward-looking investments to meet its future water supply needs, and Sites will benefit farmers, precious ecosystems, and our communities. I am proud to sponsor the bipartisan Sites Reservoir Project Act, building upon the nearly $1.2 billion in public funding for the project secured to date.”
LaMalfa said water storage projects, such as Sites Reservoir, are absolutely critical to securing the future of California’s water supply.
“It’s important that we have the infrastructure to save more water during wet years so we can prepare for the dry ones California sees all too often,” LaMalfa said, in a statement. “Sites is the most effective project in the state, providing more storage per dollar invested than any other proposed project. I’m proud of this bipartisan effort and will continue to fight to ensure this much-needed project moves forward.”
The Sites Reservoir Project Act (H.R.1453) would direct the Bureau of Reclamation to complete a necessary feasibility study for the project and, if deemed feasible, authorize additional funding and technical support.
Sites Joint Powers Authority Chairman Fritz Durst said Congressmen Garamendi and LaMalfa have been tireless champions of Sites Reservoir, and the introduction of the Sites Reservoir Project Act brings the JPA one step closer to realizing a shared goal of completing the project.
“Sites would provide critically needed water supply reliability for the environment, farms, and cities – and its importance for the future of California cannot be understated,” Durst said.
To date, more than $1.2 billion in public funding has been committed to the Sites Reservoir Project, including $816 million from Proposition 1, the State Water Bond approved by voters in 2014, and $449 million low-interest financing from USDA Rural Development. ■