Sites Reservoir authority formed
It’s officially signed, and the Sites Reservoir Joint-Powers Authority is in business.
Glenn County supervisors hosted the event in their chambers Thursday while representatives of the seven agencies put their signatures to the agreement that will help govern the reservoir if it is built.
The county joined Colusa County and the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, Maxwell Irrigation District, Yolo County Flood Control District and Reclamation District 108 in this venture.
A state water bond that might help build the reservoir was moved from the November ballot to the 2012 election, county officials said, so money for the project will not be available for a while.
The reservoir has been discussed for decades, and heightened interest in the last two years had the parties wanting to have a governing board in place before it is built to aid in the design and development of the project.
GCID General Manager Thad Bettner suggested the member agencies will start their real work soon when the new board of directors meets in a couple of weeks.
They will be tasked with appointing officers and committees and seeking project designers and consultants among other chores, Bettner said, as the JPA moves along.
Former Maxwell Irrigation District manager and board member Mary Wells told the group Sites Reservoir is needed not only to retain local water rights, but to maintain the district’s ability to deliver.
“I have more to lose than anyone here,” she said, referring to her family’s homestead being in the path of the proposed reservoir.
Her great-great grandfather helped found the town of Williams, Wells said, and her roots in Colusa County go deep.
Yet she still supports it, she said, so agriculture can succeed in this region.
Wells would be in line for some kind of compensation if the land is ultimately flooded as part of the reservoir project. What value that would be is unknown.
Glenn County Supervisor Leigh McDaniel said his board is pleased to be part of this historic event as the agreement protects local water rights and needs along with ecological resources.
He pledged Glenn County plans to be “proactive’’ in water management, so it will be able to assist the state “rather than be overrun by them,” he said.
Fritz Durst of the reclamation district said the endeavor fills the need for long-term leadership in this sustainable project, and his agency is pleased to be on board.
“It can a take lifetime to see these projects be completed,” said Ken LaGrande of the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority. “It began around the time I was born and it may be at the end of my lifetime before we get it done, but I think we will.” Colusa County Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann said this is the first time a governance structure has been created to acquire and construct the Sites project, and her county is pleased to be a part of it.
“For five decades people have put their personal lives and businesses aside to meet and make sure this happens,” said Vann, adding she hopes it won’t end up like the unbuilt Auburn Dam.
Don Bransford of GCID said the agency is thrilled to be part of a regional group, because that will make state people take notice.
The cost of such a reservoir is too much for individual water districts to bear, he said, but a joint effort will assist it along.
Bransford also suggested the Orland Unit Water Users Association be included in the JPA. That agency wants into it, but cannot join for now because it may not be eligible for bond funding, officials said.
Orland Unit General Manager Rick Massa said the organization plans to give input and remain involved in the process for the sake of more water storage.
If the reservoir is built, it would go up in the mountains near the community of Sites about 10 miles west of Maxwell on the route to Stonyford.
The reservoir would take winter runoff from the Sacramento River delivered through GCID and Colusa-Tehama Canal facilities, and the stored water could be integrated into state and federal water management plans, local officials said.