Ag Today July 25, 2018

California’s largest reservoir project in decades gets an $800 million boost. But is it feasible?

BY DALE KASLER AND RYAN SABALOW, The Sacramento Bee
July 24, 2018 12:15 PM

California officials Tuesday awarded $816 million in voter-approved bond money to build Sites Reservoir, an hour north of Sacramento, providing a financial boost for what would become the largest water storage project built in the state since the 1970s.

Approved by the State Water Commission, the funds were the most given to any of the eight projects across California under consideration for a part of the $2.7 billion Proposition 1 water bond. Voters passed the bond in 2014 during the state’s historic drought.

Despite the nine-figure award, Sites’ project managers weren’t pleased with the amount of funding for their $5.2 billion project. The decision by the Water Commission represents about half of what Sites’ backers originally had sought.

Jim Watson, general manager of the Sites project authority, said the unfunded sum represents “an opportunity lost” for California. Additional funding from the state would have enabled Sites to make more water available for fish and other environmental needs, he said.

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