Here’s How Low California’s Reservoirs Are and What to Expect in the Future

Here’s a look at the status of California’s reservoirs during another drought:

There has not been much good news about California’s water supply lately, but there could be some relief on the way. The North-of-Delta Offstream Storage project, often referred to as the planned Sites Reservoir, was authorized by Congress in 2003. The long delayed project got a financial boost in March when the federal government signaled its intent to loan the project nearly $2.2 billion — about half of the cost to design, plan and build it.

Opinion: As Drought Persists, Water Rights on Agenda

As a third year of drought continues, California officialdom is increasing pressure for more water conservation.

Last week, the state Water Resources Control Board imposed a statewide ban on watering of “non-functional” turf, such as grass around commercial buildings, and directed local water agencies to implement water use restrictions.

“California is facing a drought crisis and every local water agency and Californian needs to step up on conservation efforts,” Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a supportive statement.

California Reservoir, With Estimated $3.9B Cost, Gains Funding Approval

California is taking steps toward a 2024 start of construction on the 1.5-million-acre-feet Sites Reservoir thanks to new funding.

The California Water Commission in December determined the Sites Reservoir, located on the west side of the Sacramento Valley, is eligible for funding through the state’s 2014 voter-approved Proposition 1 Water Storage Investment Program, thereby opening access to $800 million, about 20% of the project’s $3.93 billion price tag.

Congress Approves $80 Million for Sites Reservoir

Congress approved a government funding bill last week that threw $80 million at the Sites Reservoir in California in order to keep the project on track.

The project is meant to hold 1.5 million acre-feet of water for the state to be used during droughts for agriculture, community usage and environmental need, said a press release issued Tuesday by the organization behind the Sites Reservoir.

Opinion: Investment in Delta Tunnel, Sites Reservoir Will Ensure Water Supply

California just recorded its’ third driest winter in history, so it’s no surprise that State Water Project deliveries have been cut to just 5% of contracted amounts.

This is bad news for regional water agencies who collectively depend on the State Water Project for a fourth of their water supply.

But these agencies have seen the climate change writing on the wall for a long time. In fact, Southern California has been in an extended drought for the last 20 years. Because of this, 11 San Bernardino Valley water agencies have identified close to $650 million worth of local stormwater capture, storage and recycling projects they plan to build over the next 50 years to lessen their dependence on State Water Project imports.

Sites Reservoir Awarded $13.7 Million in 2021 Federal Budget Bill

Sites Reservoir was awarded $13.7 million in the 2021 federal spending bill, authorized through the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, according to a press release. With the passage of the legislation, Congress has now approved approximately $23.7 million in WIIN Act funding to the Bureau of Reclamation for Sites Reservoir.


Opinion: It’s Time to Re-Envision the California Water System

Recent years have brought a taste of extreme weather and the destructive power in nature that’s always just around the corner here in California. At the same time, numerous crises have highlighted our many vulnerabilities: drought, new groundwater restrictions, endless stumbling blocks in the way of system repairs and upgrades, regulatory restrictions to protect declining fish, and elusive voluntary agreements in lieu of  “unimpaired flow” standards for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta from the state water board that would be ineffective and would cripple regional economies.

Environmental Groups say Newsom’s Water Plan Will Worsen Toxic Threat in the Delta

At the end of July, Gov. Gavin Newsom released his revised plan for bringing long-term water security to all Californians. But his announcement was overshadowed by San Joaquin County and several Delta communities scrambling to confront the worst cases of toxic algae blooms ever seen on local sloughs and rivers.

These green, floating slicks brought a new level of criticism to Newsom’s agribusiness-friendly water proposal. That’s because the governor’s strategy relies in large part on the controversial Sites Reservoir proposal and the even more contentious Delta tunnel proposal. Conservation groups say both projects—particularly the tunnel—could worsen the problem of dangerous algae contamination in regional waterways.

Meanwhile, the state continues to spend large sums of money on both multibillion-dollar projects with little clarity on who will ultimately foot the bill as the COVID-19 pandemic drains evermore revenue from public agencies.

Massive Northern California Reservoir Project Scaled Back to Reduce Costs

An ambitious plan to build the largest new reservoir in California in 40 years to supply water to homes and businesses from the Bay Area to Los Angeles, along with Central Valley farmers, is being scaled back considerably amid questions about its $5 billion price tag and how much water it can deliver.

Sites Reservoir is proposed for construction in remote ranch lands in Colusa County, about 70 miles north of Sacramento. The reservoir, originally designed to be four times as big as Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park and nearly as big as San Luis Reservoir between Gilroy and Los Banos, received more money than any other project two years ago from a water bond passed by state voters during California’s historic drought.

Sites Reservoir to Receive $6 Million

The proposed Sites Reservoir will receive a $6 million investment from the federal government as part of a bipartisan spending bill that was signed during President Donald Trump’s year-end spending package.

According to a release issued by the Sites Project Authority, the funding, authorized by the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, was appropriated to the Bureau of Reclamation to advance Sites Reservoir.