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Final plans for Northern California's Sites Reservoir released

Final plans for Northern California's Sites Reservoir released
Final plans for Northern California's Sites Reservoir released 02:13

SACRAMENTO - The final plans to increase Northern California's water storage by building Sites Reservoir were released by the Bureau of Reclamation and Sites Project Authority.  

The reservoir would store water from the Sacramento River. The water will then be released throughout the state during drier periods, the Bureau of Reclamation says. 

"Investing in Western water infrastructure is a top priority for Reclamation and the Biden Administration as witnessed by the commitment of funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law," said Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton. "We are proud to support projects that will provide operational flexibility and more reliable water delivery to benefit farms, communities, and the environment.

The project would increase Northern California's water storage capacity by up to 15%. It would create 1.5 million acre-feet of off-stream storage.

"Sites Reservoir promises to help us adjust to intensifying floods and droughts by storing water in big, wet winters like we just had for use during the dry years that we know will return," said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. "The environmental review that has just been completed for the project will guide how this project can operate in alignment with existing water and environmental management, as well as other water infrastructure."

Building the reservoir would cost about $3.9 billion. The Biden administration announced $30 million to help pursue Sites Reservoir in 2022 and again in July. 

"This is a big milestone," said Jerry Brown with Sites Reservoir. "This is a significant step towards getting this project built and in operation."

However, there is opposition to the project. Ron Stork with Friends of the River said the funding and the environmental impact, if it's built, is questionable.

"A lot of this is associated with the conditions on diversion that the board will establish," Stork said. "How much water will be left in the Sacramento River?"

"There are some things that we just have to make a trade-off for," Brown said.

Sites Reservoir would be about 81 miles northwest of Sacramento, just west of Maxwell in Colusa County. 

To view the final plans, click here

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