"This year, if Sites would have been dedicated last fall and empty, it would be full right now, so that’s 1.8 million acre-feet,” says Durst.
Sites Reservoir Supporters Want $1.6 Billion From Water Bond
This week is the application deadline for projects requesting funding from the $7.5 billion Proposition 1 water bond that California voters approved in 2014.
Supporters of Sites Reservoir, which would be located an hour northwest of Sacramento, say they are asking for $1.6 billion from the bond. That's more than half of the money in the bond that is set aside for water storage projects in California.
At a capacity of 1.8 million acre-feet, it would be the largest reservoir built in California since 1979. An acre foot is about enough water for an average California household for a year.
More than two dozen water agencies have signed on to purchase water and build the $4.7 billion reservoir. Fritz Durst, vice-chair of the Sites Reservoir Joint Powers Authority, says the reservoir would be able to capture high flows in the Sacramento River to help provide more water in dry years.
Durst says if the state invests in the project, it could provide water for purposes other than agriculture.
“Some of the water will stay north of the Delta for use for agriculture. But the other big improvement will be for the ecosystem," he says.
He says the state could provide water to wildlife refuges or to provide cold water for salmon.
Sites Reservoir will have to compete with other storage projects applying for funding. The California Water Commission will make the final decision next year.