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March 25, 2014  |  Written by Richard S. Deitchman

Garamendi and LaMalfa Announce Sites Reservoir Bill

On March 19, 2014, Congressman John Garamendi (D) and Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R) announced the introduction of the bipartisan bill titled “Sacramento Valley Storage and Restoration Act of 2014.”  The bill authorizes a feasibility study and the construction of the Sites Reservoir (Sites), located in Colusa County near the town of Maxwell, California.  The long-considered Sites would provide up to 1.9 million acre-feet of new water storage, improving water supply reliability with benefits to agricultural, municipal, and industrial water users, as well as for fish, waterfowl and wildlife, including anadromous fish in the Sacramento River.  The bill declares that the federal government will work with state and local authorities, including the Sites Project Joint Powers Authority, to “advance the Sites Project in the most expeditious and cost-effective manner possible.”

The bill sets a June 30, 2015 deadline for a feasibility study for Sites.  If deemed feasible, the bill authorizes construction.  In addition, it includes the option for non-federal funding should a non-federal entity seek to sponsor the project on a more expedited basis.

Although the passage of the bill, environmental approval, and eventual funding for Sites remain indefinite, its bipartisan support is a step in the direction of integrated water management.  The bill recognizes that enhanced storage, with the addition of a project like Sites, is an important component of integrated water management that will advance the co-equal objectives of water supply reliability and restoration of ecological health for beneficial uses.  Additional surface water storage projects should bring better stability to California water users and lessen the impacts of future droughts.

For more information on the legislation, please contact Richard S. Deitchman at (916) 446-7979 or by email at rdeitchman@somachlaw.com.

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