Water bond sought to fund storage sites
The Sites Reservoir project has been talked about for more than 30 years, and the potential benefits of the Sites Reservoir have been investigated, starting in the 1970s before the anti-dam revolution.
People claim that the valley is a perfect place to store water as it flows down from snowpacks in the mountains of Northern California as it moves to the Pacific Ocean.
— Brian Pearson
A proposed water bond announced on Monday would fund $5.8 billion in water storage projects and establish water of origin rights to protect water in the North State from being sent south.
The bond was introduced by 3rd District Assemblyman and Chief Republican Whip Dan Logue, who said the two water storage projects the bond would finance — Sites Reservoir near Williams and Temperance Flats Dam near Fresno — would be a cheaper alternative than the water tunnels proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown and provide more security to the North State's water rights.
If passed, the bond would be on the November 2014 ballot.
"The water interest of California are interested in water storage, and I'm giving them the vehicle to pull it off," Logue said. "If we build the two projects, we're not going to need the tunnels; that saves us billions."
Total cost estimates for the Delta tunnels proposed by the Bay Delta Conservation Plan currently stand at $25 billion, and there is no funding agreement in place for the project.
A dam at Temperance Flat would yield between 165,000 and 183,000 acre-feet of water annually and cost about $1.4 billion, according to 2007 Department of Water Resources studies.
Sites Reservoir would cost between $2.3 billion and $3.2 billion and yield between 470,000 and 640,000 acre-feet of water annually.
An acre-foot of water is 326,000 gallons.
Avoiding the Delta tunnels project would also eliminate the need to take 100,000 acres of land out of production for environmental mitigation, Logue said.
"That would affect property values and land values and would be an incredible impact on the north portion of the state," Logue said.
The other component of the bond is to provide area of origin water rights to the North State. Currently, those rights don't exist, leaving the northern supply vulnerable to a water grab from the south, Logue said.
Richard Stapler, spokesman for the California Resources Agency, said that there is no silver bullet solution to water issues in California.
"While adding water storage is an important piece of the puzzle, we must also address a host of environmental degradation issues in the Delta," Stapler said. "Part of the solution lies in changing the way water is moved, so if more storage is created, it can actually be used."