Sites Reservoir will receive $6 million from the federal government as part of a bipartisan spending bill that was signed by Pres. Donald J. Trump at the close of 2019.
The funding, authorized by the WIIN Act, was appropriated to the Bureau of Reclamation to advance Sites Reservoir. With the passage of this legislation, 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. “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 the town of Maxwell, Sites Reservoir would 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 so desperately needed.
“Building Sites Reservoir would bring California closer to achieving a drought-resilient water system,” said U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, in a statement. “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.”
Sites Reservoir, once completed, will 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, Sites officials said. 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.
“I’m happy to have helped secure additional federal commitments for Sites Reservoir,” said U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa, in a statement. “This $6 million represent a continuous push from the Federal Government to actually build this project. Sites is the best opportunity we have to increase water storage in California. Dry years or wet- for habitat, farms and Northern California communities this project brings water security and benefits. I’ll keep fighting to get this project built.”
Widely supported both regionally and statewide, the project has made significant progress, officials said. A group of more than 175 organizations, agencies, businesses and bipartisan elected officials support the project. In 2018, the project was 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. ■