As we approach the spring with varying hydrology throughout California, now is a good time to think about longer-term solutions that will help California during dry years. If Sites Reservoir were already online, the California Department of Water Resources has estimated that it would have already stored an additional 448,000 acre-feet of water this year, or nearly 146 billion gallons. Last year, during one of the driest years ever, Sites would have captured 410,000 acre-feet of precious water from two storm events. For context, Folsom Reservoir currently has slightly more than 600,000 acre-feet of water in storage.
Why does California need Sites Reservoir? California currently has 39 million people and a spectacular landscape supporting various other species–all of which depend upon a managed water system to help provide drinking water and other domestic uses, the most diverse and high quality food grown anywhere in the world, the cold water and habitat for fish, and habitat for birds along the Pacific Flyway. The last four dry years and a changing climate have reinforced that for all of these beneficial uses to thrive in California, we need robust surface water storage throughout California. One of the best opportunities to add value to our current water system is the proposed Sites Reservoir, an off-stream regulating reservoir on the west side of the Sacramento Valley.