A bill authored by Republican Doug LaMalfa and Democrat John Garamendi would fund a feasibility study and, depending on the results, authorize construction of a new reservoir. LaMalfa says the lake would be created by flooding Sites Valley west of Maxwell.
"It's surrounded on pretty much all sides by hills and small mountains. It has a couple of passes there. You would put a dam in one main pass to block water from exiting and a couple little saddle dams where there are some humps."
About a dozen people live in the valley. They are divided over the project. Some like Jackie Kerhoulas have been hearing about it for decades.
"If we'd use it for what we say we're going to use it for, fine," Kerhoulas says. "But they'll send it down to Los Angeles so they can each have a swimming pool in their backyard and fill it every day if they want to."
Early estimates for the project are a cost of three-to-four billion dollars and a construction time of five years to complete.
About a dozen people would be displaced by the project.
Garamendi says if the project is found to be feasible, the bill would authorize construction of a reservoir that would hold nearly two million acre feet of water.
The Garamendi hopes the bill will be voted on sometime this fall.
"That will give the kind of flexibility for agricultural purposes, for water in the river," Garamendi says. "And it also allows the Shasta and Oroville and Folsom reservoirs to be re-operated so that you're actually creating more water capacity, storage capacity in those reservoirs."
January brought above-average rainfall and snow to much of California, partly due to El Niño. But forecasters say the ocean warming condition is "taking a break" for the next week or longer.
The U.S. Drought Monitor says, other than a slight reduction in exceptional drought in the northern Sierra, it needs more time to assess impacts of the recent moisture on California's long-term drought.
California regulators have made modest adjustments to water conservation requirements for cities.
The second measurement this winter of snowpack in the Sierra Nevada was 130 percent of average. State water officials say the snowpack will help reservoir recovery.
California's water conservation rate dropped to 18 percent in December. But water regulators say the state continues to meet its long term goals.