Wednesday, April 21, 2021

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Sites Reservoir hits new milestone

Sites Reservoir picked up more momentum last week when it was awarded $13.7 million in the 2021 federal spending bill, authorized through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. 

With the passage of this legislation, Congress has now appropriated roughly $23.7 million in WIIN Act funding to the Bureau of Reclamation for the project. 

“We thank our federal partners for their continued support of Sites Reservoir,” said Fritz Durst, Chairman of the Sites Project Authority, in a press release. “Our representatives understand the importance and significance of Sites, and these investments help us maintain momentum and meet critical milestones to advance the project.”  

The Bureau of Reclamation recently released the Final Feasibility Report for the Sites Reservoir, also known as the North-of-Delta Offstream Storage Project. 

The report, which documents the potential costs and benefits of the Sites Reservoir Project, was transmitted to Congress on Dec. 22.

“California is in dire need of additional storage, and projects like Sites Reservoir will provide operational flexibility and more reliable water delivery to benefit farms, communities, and the environment,” said BOR Commissioner Brenda Burman, in a press release. “The Sites Reservoir Project is an important opportunity for additional storage in northern California.”

The reservoir will be an off-stream facility that does not dam a major river system so as not to block fish migration or spawning, officials said. Instead, the reservoir would capture and store stormwater flows from the Sacramento River in wet years, after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met, for release primarily in dry and critical years. 

Sites Reservoir, when constructed about 10 miles west of Maxwell, should increase California’s existing water supply 15 percent by providing 1.5 million acre-feet of additional storage capacity to the state during times of drought.

“Sites Reservoir is a unique collaboration between local, state and federal partners,” added Durst. “With their support, we are on track to build an affordable, modern, and sustainable water storage project for California.” 

The Sites Reservoir Project is a joint investigation between Reclamation and Sites Project Authority, authorized by Congress in 2003. The diversity of potential participants includes local, state, and federal interests as a collective of investors. As the project advances, it will be optimized for current conditions and affordability of all participants, while maintaining flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. ♣

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