Council Advocacy Helps Push Two Major Water Projects Closer to the Finish Line

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Plans to build the new Sites Reservoir and expand the Pacheco Reservoir both cleared major hurdles at the California Water Commission this week (Dec. 15), moving one step closer to breaking ground. The Commission determined both projects were feasible, which opens the door for state bond funding once the projects complete necessary permitting and environmental documents. Sites Reservoir, located in Colusa County, would store 1.5 million acre-feet of water off-stream from the Sacramento River for water users in Alameda, Contra Costa, and Santa Clara counties (and elsewhere in California). The Pacheco Reservoir Expansion Project in eastern Santa Clara County would increase storage capacity at the existing reservoir from 5,000 to 140,000 acre-feet of water and provide flood protection benefits to communities downstream from Pacheco Creek.

The Bay Area Council long ago identified new Sites Reservoir and Pacheco and Los Vaqueros Reservoir expansion project as the three top priority water storage projects benefitting the Bay Area, and submitted letters and provided testimony in support of the projects at the Water Commission. The determination comes as California received its second significant atmospheric river of the season, pushing total statewide precipitation to 17 inches to date for the season. Although slightly ahead of average at this point in the year, California would need about six more storms the size of this week’s atmospheric river to reach annual average precipitation, according to UC Davis Professor Jay Lund. To engage with the Council’s Water & Climate Resilience Committee, please contact Senior Vice President, Public Policy Adrian Covert.

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