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."
A new study says California's four-year drought has reduced hydroelectricity generation, resulting in higher electricity costs to ratepayers and increased greenhouse gas pollution.
Legislation introduced in the California state Assembly would create the Lower American River Conservancy to improve, protect, preserve and possibly expand the 5,000-acre American River Parkway.
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.