Securing long-term water sustainability is one of the most important tasks faced by California.
From the 2016 California Water Action Plan:
There is broad agreement that the state’s water management system is currently unable to satisfactorily meet both ecological and human needs, too exposed to wet and dry climate cycles and natural disasters, and inadequate to handle the additional pressures of future population growth and climate change. Solutions are complex and expensive, and they require the cooperation and sustained commitment of all Californians working together. To be sustainable, solutions must strike a balance between the need to provide for public health and safety (e.g., safe drinking water, clean rivers and beaches, flood protection), protect the environment, and support a stable California economy.
Sites is an innovative and modern water storage project that goes well beyond water supply and flood protection by adding flexibility—and generating a much-needed new water source—for seasonal fish flows, improved water quality, water cool enough to sustain salmon, climate change and drought relief.
Sites is a local project, being developed by a consortium of local agencies who are motivated to build local water sustainability and to do so in a way that helps the state meet its overall water system needs. This foundational philosophy makes Sites a storage project that benefits both California’s environment and its economy.
Sites is an offstream reservoir that will:
Why is “offstream” so important?
Reservoirs of the past were built by damming across naturally flowing rivers to hold the water back, and drowning the river and its ecosystem in the process. Offstream means that Sites will not dam, or in any way impede, any river or streambed. In fact, Sites will provide dramatic benefits to the ecosystem.
If Sites had been online in 2015, an additional 240,000 acre-feet of cold water would have been available to support critical salmon migrations. In dry and critical years, Sites will provide an additional 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet of cold-water pools to help critically endangered Salmon and improve water quality conditions.