Sites Reservoir

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Sites Reservoir
Sites Reservoir is located in California
Sites Reservoir
Sites Reservoir
Coordinates39°21′18″N 122°20′29″W / 39.35500°N 122.34139°W / 39.35500; -122.34139Coordinates: 39°21′18″N 122°20′29″W / 39.35500°N 122.34139°W / 39.35500; -122.34139
TypeOffstream reservoir
Primary outflowsStone Corral Creek, Funks Creek
Managing agencyCalifornia Department of Water Resources
Built2024 start; 2030 completion (proposed)
Max. length13 miles (21 km)
Surface area14,000 acres (5,700 ha)
Max. depth310 ft (94 m)
Water volume1.8×106 acre-feet (2.2 km3)
(max. as proposed)
Surface elevation580 ft (180 m)

The Sites Reservoir is a proposed $5.2-billion offstream reservoir project west of Colusa in the Sacramento Valley of northern California, to be built by the California Department of Water Resources. The project would pump 470,000 to 640,000 acre-feet (580,000,000 to 790,000,000 m3) per year of the winter flood flow from the Sacramento River upstream of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, through existing canals to an artificial lake 14 miles (23 km) away. Annual yield will depend on precipitation and environmental restrictions.

Construction is planned to begin in mid-2024,[1] with final design expected to be done in 2025 and with operations targeted to begin by 2030.[2]

The California State Water Project (SWP) would operate the $5.2-billion project. Estimated economic benefits are around $260 million per year, with an operating cost of $10–20 million In 2018, the state awarded $820 million from a bond (Proposition 1) to the reservoir project. About 30 water agencies in California have tentatively committed funding.

History[edit]

The Sites Reservoir was proposed in the 1980s. California had serious droughts in 2006–2010 and 2011–2017, raising concern about water insecurity.[3] The project is intended to improve reliability of supply during drought conditions.[4]

Preliminary studies were conducted at a cost of $50 million during 1996–2014.[5] The reservoir would be reduced in size if funding were cut back, but backers believe the project would still be built. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2030.[6][7] The California Water Commission voted in favor of the feasibility of the project in December 2021.[8]

Cost and funding[edit]

The estimated cost of the reservoir is $5.2 billion.[9]

In 2018, the state awarded the reservoir project $820 million from a bond (Proposition 1), half the funding originally sought. Project backers were displeased with the funding shortfall. Additional funding was tentatively pledged from water agencies ("agricultural districts") in the Sacramento Valley, Fresno and urban agencies including Los Angeles. Each agency will be entitled to store water in the lake, in proportion to its share of the construction funding. In view of the shortfall, the pledges are being reassessed.[10]

The high cost of storage has led irrigation districts in the Sacramento Valley to reduce their funding and share of ownership. Water agencies in southern California and the San Joaquin Valley have increased their share. Crops grown in the San Joaquin Valley, such as pistachios and almonds, have a higher value than typical crops in the Sacramento Valley. The San Joaquin Valley and urban agencies can afford to acquire higher-cost water. However, by state law, agencies in the Sacramento Valley control the entire governing board for the project.[11]

The federal Bureau of Reclamation could put $1 billion into the project.[12] The state will fund 16% or $820 million of the $5.2 billion project in exchange for rights to nine percent of the yield or 50,000 acre-feet (62,000,000 m3) per year, to protect habitat for endangered Delta smelt and for wildlife refuges.[citation needed]

Approval of the project feasibility by the California Water Commission in December 2021 meant that the project stays eligible to receive more than $800 million in public funding.[8]

Specifications[edit]

The California State Water Project (SWP) would operate the project[9] with an operating cost of $10–20 million.[13] estimated economic benefits are around $260 million per year.[14]

The 14,000-acre (5,700 ha) reservoir would be formed by several dams located in the east foothills of the California Coast Ranges, flooding the long and narrow Antelope Valley. The main dams, Sites and Golden Gate, would be built across Stone Corral and Funks Creeks, respectively. Six smaller saddle dikes would hold in the north end of the lake.[15] The total capacity would be between 1.3 to 1.8 million acre-feet (1.6 to 2.2 km3).[15][16] Capacity could be expanded in the future, by raising the surrounding dikes.[16]

The project would pump 470,000 to 640,000 acre-feet (580,000,000 to 790,000,000 m3) per year of the winter flood flow from the Sacramento River upstream of the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, through existing canals to an artificial lake 14 miles (23 km) away. Annual yield will depend on precipitation and environmental restrictions.[17] The maximum inflow, 5,900 cubic feet per second (170 m3/s), will be carried by the existing Tehama-Colusa and Glenn-Colusa Canals and a new pumping station on the Sacramento River near Red Bluff.[18]

The project is a pumped-storage hydroelectric plant, similar to San Luis Reservoir in the San Joaquin Valley, and would be a net power consumer; however, it would be able to generate peaking power. It will provide large-scale grid energy storage.[citation needed]

Environmental impacts[edit]

The proposed reservoir is not located on a major river but as part of California water infrastructure it would affect salmon fisheries by impounding water diverted from salmon-bearing watersheds, particularly the Trinity River via Lewiston Dam. Major negative impacts to imperiled salmon species already diminished by current and past water diversions to agriculture far from the sensitive watersheds of the north state had not been taken into account by the state government's planning as of early 2020.[19]

Diversions could take 60 percent of the Sacramento River's flow at times, potentially harming salmon and other fish. (The Sacramento River's flows include water allocated from the Trinity and other northern tributaries, despite harm to salmon runs in source watersheds.) The reservoir itself would affect habitat for 23 sensitive, threatened or endangered wildlife species.[18] Evaporation from the 14,000 acres (5,700 ha) reservoir would remove 30,000 acre-feet (37,000,000 m3) per year.[18]

According to "Final Feasibility Report" submitted by the Bureau of Reclamation in December 2020 : "A substantial portion of the project’s water would be specifically dedicated to environmental uses, helping to improve conditions for Delta smelt, preserving the cold-water pool in Lake Shasta to support salmon development, spawning and rearing, and providing a reliable water supply to improve the habitat for migratory birds and other native species." .[20]

To protect fisheries, the pumping stations along the Sacramento River will have fish screens. There are potential modifications upstream at Shasta Dam that could increase the supply of cold water. The intakes at the Tehama-Colusa and Glenn-Colusa Canals will be modified.[17]

State regulators announced environmental restrictions in 2018 that would limit river withdrawals to protect fish, but the state has not included strong protections in infrastructure plans. The water supply could fall short of projections.[12]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ DeLeon, Kelly (March 3, 2022). "The Sites Reservoir currently on track to break ground in 2024". KRCR. Retrieved March 4, 2022.
  2. ^ "California Reservoir, With Estimated $3.9B Cost, Gains Funding Approval". www.enr.com. Retrieved December 21, 2021.
  3. ^ Adam Kotin and Dru Marion (February 5, 2014). "A History of Drought in California: Learning From the Past, Looking to the Future". Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  4. ^ http://www.water.ca.gov/storage/docs/NODOS%20Project%20Docs/NODOS_Prelim_Admin_Draft_EIR/00-ES-Executive_Summary_prelim_admin_draft_Dec2013_w_table.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ Hacking, Heather (March 27, 2014). "Sites Reservoir: A long time in coming, a long way to go". Chico Enterprise-Record. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  6. ^ Mike Luery (January 12, 2017). "5 things to know about the proposed Sites Reservoir". KCRA. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  7. ^ Rogers, Paul (May 11, 2020). "Massive Northern California reservoir project scaled back to reduce costs". The Mercury News. Retrieved May 11, 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ a b "Amid drought, California advances big new reservoir project". KSBY. Associated Press. December 16, 2021. Retrieved December 16, 2021.
  9. ^ a b "Water Storage Investment Program Project Review Portal". cwc.ca.gov. Archived from the original on March 7, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  10. ^ Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow (July 24, 2018). "California's largest reservoir project in decades gets an $800 million boost. But is it feasible?". Retrieved September 4, 2018.
  11. ^ Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow (February 15, 2019). "Sites Reservoir is Sacramento Valley's water project. But L.A. is taking a huge role". Retrieved January 4, 2020. 'The reality is, the cost of water is going to be terrifically expensive,' said Durst, the board chairman. Durst’s own water agency, Reclamation District 108, has reduced its contribution to the project by 80 percent. The expense is less of a problem for San Joaquin Valley farmers, who generally grow higher-value crops such as almonds and pistachios and can afford costly water. It’s also less of a problem for Metropolitan, which can spread the cost among its 19 million urban customers.
  12. ^ a b Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow (February 15, 2019). "Sites Reservoir is Sacramento Valley's water project. But L.A. is taking a huge role". Retrieved January 8, 2020.
  13. ^ "Our View: Sites Reservoir would sure come in handy this year". Appeal-Democrat. January 12, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  14. ^ "Bureau of Reclamation releases progress report on Sites Reservoir". Maven's Notebook. December 31, 2013. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  15. ^ a b "North-of-the-Delta Offstream Storage Feasibility Investigation: Fact Sheet" (PDF). U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and California Department of Water Resources. Northern California Water Association. June 2011. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Surface Storage". Northern California Water Association. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  17. ^ a b "Sites Reservoir: Frequently Asked Questions" (PDF). California Department of Water Resources. September 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 1, 2014. Retrieved March 16, 2014.
  18. ^ a b c Evans, Steven L. (August 2013). "Sites Offstream Storage Reservoir Fact Sheet" (PDF). Friends of the River. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  19. ^ Zito, Kelly (September 29, 2009). "Water interests argue new state dam proposals". SFGate. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
  20. ^ "Sites Reservoir reaches milestone". Daily Democrat. December 25, 2020. Retrieved December 25, 2020.