As Sacramento Valley water resources managers look to serve multiple benefits in the future, the importance and need for Sites Reservoir emerges.

Sites Reservoir is an innovative 21st Century water project–an off-stream regulating reservoir on the west-side of the Sacramento Valley that can save water for the future by capturing water during high runoff, and then saving this water for various beneficial uses at a later time. By its location upstream of the Delta and near the Sacramento River, water in Sites reservoir could serve multiple benefits in the Sacramento Valley, as well as the Delta and the rest of the state.

For the context in which Sites Reservoir emerges, California 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 recent drought and a changing climate have reinforced that for all of these multiple beneficial uses to thrive in California, we need smart and robust surface water storage throughout California.

One of the best opportunities to add value to our current water system is the proposed Sites Reservoir, which will provide high-quality water to enhance the environment, the economy and quality of life for Californians. To help advance this effort, the leaders in the Sacramento Valley came together in 2010 to form the Sites Project Authority, building on the earlier work by the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau of Reclamation. More information from the Sites Project Authority is available at: https://www.sitesproject.org/. An overview and Executive Summary for the Sites Project is available at:

The hallmark for Sites Reservoir is it can serve multiple benefits and particularly provide significant public benefits to the State of California, including the public benefit of ecosystem system and water quality improvements, flood control, emergency response, and recreation.

Sites Reservoir is designed to give water resources managers across the state more flexibility to meet both customer demands and environmental needs, especially in dry and critical years. As a result, Sites Reservoir has investment by Participating Entities on every major river in the Sacramento Valley, as well as throughout California. There is also strong support from a bi-partisan group of federal, state and local elected officials throughout the state, as well as broad support from organizations and people in every region in California.

Importantly, Sites Reservoir can provide an environmental water budget that would help provide flexibility and make water available during the drier years in California. For example, the Public Policy Institute (PPIC) recently prepared a report that called for “ecosystem water budgets, which allocate a portion of water to the ecosystem within watersheds, could enable more flexible and effective water management during dry times.” See here.

Sites Reservoir 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 Reservoir will be particularly valuable during dry years in California, such as 2014 and 2015, with a pool of water available upstream of the Delta for multiple purposes. As the following information shows, Sites Reservoir will work well in all year types.

More information from the Sites Project Authority is available at: https://www.sitesproject.org/.