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12.9.4: Sites reservoir

  • Page ID
    196021
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    By Cody Logan

    The public policy I have chosen is the Sites Reservoir west of Colusa in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. The biggest challenge is the application development price and how much it will cost to build this reservoir. It is proposed that this project costs a net 5.2 billion dollars. It is supposed to be started in 2024 and be completed six years later in 2030. This reservoir will consist of 1.5 million acres of stream surface storage, enough water for three million homes for one year.

    The water right application for the Reservoir is one of the biggest hurdles to accomplish. "A water right permit will provide the Authority legal authorization to divert water within certain conditions, for a specific purpose, and for use within a specified area ( Maxwell Smith 2023). The biggest strength of this project is that it allows for the collection and storage of more clean water for farmlands and cities. During our dry season, we always need water, so creating more infrastructure to make it accessible like this is very important for our future.

    "Through the year-long application development process, the Authority prepared an extensive water availability analysis, more comprehensive than any other in California history" (Maxwell Smith 2023). The SWRCB has run countless scenarios from historical climate changes to determine exactly how much water the Sites Reservoir would have available; they have projections to the year 2070. The biggest weakness is the reservoir is built to be an off-stream surface storage to capture runoff from uncontrolled streams and storms. "Off-stream means that Sites Reservoir will not dam, or in any way impede any river or streambed" (Greg Johnson 2022). Almost all reservoirs in California collect water from the snow melt from the Sierra Nevada range.

    We would rely on rain and diverting water from the California aqueduct to fill and store in the reservoir. Many believe building more reservoirs and dams is like a silver bullet for water accessibility and storage. California has already nearly built 1400 new dams and reservoirs. These infrastructures provide a little to a finite amount of water storage compared to the cost and time to build each dam/reservoir. I researched how the salmon and other fish would take to the completion of the Sites rReservoir. It was going both ways with positives and negatives. "The Department of Fish and Wildlife finding the proposed reservoir would harm salmon, longfin smelt, and other species and that the environmental document failed to comply with CEQA" (Doug Obegi 2021). The positive is that when the Sites Reservoir is filled it will bring down cold water for the salmon to migrate during the winter time year round. This year (2023) the Sites Reservoir water right application has been approved to move forward with the plan. That makes the completion of this project that much sooner for us to start collecting and utilizing the water. "Sites Reservoir will increase the resiliency of water supplies because it will not rely on spring snowmelt for filling but instead will capture storm-related runoff and a portion of storm-related flood water" (Maxwell Smith 2022). The amount of that we will utilize that we were not before will provide much water to our farmland and cities.

    This reservoir will cost an estimated 5.2 billion dollars to construct. "In 2018, President Trump announced a $449 million USDA Rural Development grant to support the Sites Reservoir Project - the single largest award in the program's history – at Congressman LaMalfa's recommendation" (Doug Lamalfa 2023). The USDA gets its funding every year from Congress. The amount of funding it will cost to build the Sites reservoir is a tremendous amount. Many different funds have been allocated for the completion of this project. "Sacramento, CA – Sites Reservoir was awarded an additional $30 million in federal funding from the Bureau of Reclamation through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" (Camille Touton 2023). The United States Bureau of Reclamation has funded $244 million dollars alone. This bureau is a federally run US department that oversees water resource management. The money they allocate is revenues from Federal land and timber sales.

    "Sites would make a small splash in California's water supply: Major reservoirs now hold 50 million acre-feet, and Sites would add only about 1.5 million more" (Alastair Bland 2023).The completion of this reservoir is just a drop in the bucket for the amount of water we already have stored. "Climate change models suggest California will see longer, drier droughts and shorter but more intense wet periods – a pattern that has emerged prominently in the past several years. This is the sort of pendular weather pattern that Sites is being designed to take advantage of, by grabbing water when it's abundant" (Alastair Bland 2023). Having assets such as the Sites Reservoir to collect water is an important project. The amount it costs and the time it will take to complete is entirely worth it for our future.

    I hope you understood what it takes to build an infrastructure as large as this one—going through all the water rights applications that are extensive by the state, making sure the land is suitable to be built on, having an environmental analysis done on the land and gathering enough funds from our local, state and federal government. With every hurdle, the Sites Reservoir is on schedule to begin building in 2024. Having access to store an abundance of water such as this provides our farmlands and cities another great pinnacle of our success. The Sites reservoir will help in so many ways to provide water for everyone.

    Word Cited

    1. "A water right permit will provide the Authority legal authorization to divert water within certain conditions, for a specific purpose, and for use within a specified area."
    https://sitesproject.org/press-relea...-movesforward/

    2. "Through the year-long application development process, the Authority prepared an extensive water availability analysis, more comprehensive than any other in California history." https://sitesproject.org/press-relea...-movesforward/

    3. "Off-stream means that Sites Reservoir will not dam, or in any way impede any river or streambed. https://sitesproject.org/about-sites/

    4. "In 2018 President Trump announced a $449 million USDA Rural Development grant to support the Sites Reservoir Project - the single largest award in the program's history – at Congressman LaMalfa's recommendation." https://lamalfa.house.gov/media-cent...ced,history%20–%20at%20Congressman%20LaMalfa's%20recommendation.

    5. "Sacramento, CA – Sites Reservoir was awarded an additional $30 million in federal funding from the Bureau of Reclamation through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act." https://sitesproject.org/press-relea...deral-funding/

    6. "Sites Reservoir is funded 100 percent by local, state, and federal public dollars." https://sitesproject.org/frequently-asked-questions /#:~:text=Sites%20Reservoir%20is%20funded%20100,public%20agency%20ratepayers%20throughout%20California.

    7. "Department of Fish and Wildlife finding the proposed reservoir would harm salmon, LongfinSmelt, and other species and that the environmental document failed to comply with CEQA." https://www.nrdc.org/bio/doug-obegi/...ites-reservoir

    8. "Sites Reservoir will increase the resiliency of water supplies because it will not rely on spring snowmelt for filling but instead will capture storm-related runoff and a portion
    of storm-related flood water." https://sitesproject.org/about-sites/

    9. "Sites would make a small splash in California's water supply: Major reservoirs now hold 50 million acre-feet and Sites would add only about 1.5 million more."
    https://calmatters.org/environment/2...tes-reservoir/

    10. "Climate change models suggest California will see longer, drier droughts and shorter but more intense wet periods – a pattern that has emerged prominently in the past several years. This is the sort of pendular weather pattern that Sites is being designed to take advantage of, by grabbing water when it's abundant." https://calmatters.org/environment/2...tes-reservoir/


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