NEWS WORTH NOTING, water storage edition: Sites Reservoir, Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion, and Temperance Flat submit applications for Prop 1 funding

The deadline for applications for Prop 1 funds were due to the Water Commission yesterday.  Here are three of the projects vying for funding, but do note that these are not the only projects that will be applying.

Offstream storage project in Northern California takes critical step forward

Submittal of application to the California Water Commission for Prop 1 funds and release of draft environmental review documents

(Artists rendering)

The Sites Project Authority (Authority) today has submitted its application to the California Water Commission for Proposition 1 Water Storage Investment Program (WSIP) funding for the Sites Reservoir Project. This important milestone marks substantial project momentum, as demonstrated by the over 170 organizations, agencies, businesses and elected officials that support the project. Representing labor, business, water and agricultural interests, and various local and statewide agencies, as well as several cities and counties, this diverse coalition views Sites as a viable, modern solution to securing statewide water supplies while benefiting critical ecosystems.

In another step forward for project planning, the Authority, the state lead agency under the California Environmental Quality Act, and U.S. Bureau Reclamation (Reclamation), the federal lead agency under National Environmental Policy Act, have also posted a Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (Draft EIR/EIS) for public review and are accepting comments through November 13, 2017.

The Draft EIR/EIS evaluates and describes the environmental effects and proposed mitigation measures associated with construction and operation of the Sites Reservoir and associated facilities. Reclamation will publish their Notice of Availability for the Draft EIR/EIS in the Federal Register by the end of this week.

The Sites Project is the culmination of decades of planning to optimize water supplies and deliveries throughout California and provide direct and real benefits to instream flows and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta) ecosystem. The 1.3 to 1.8 million acre-foot offstream surface water storage project is being advanced to greatly increase the reliability of statewide water supplies for environmental, agricultural and urban uses.

“California faces an uncertain future of new and different water challenges, and needs a project like Sites that offers essential benefits under a future of changing conditions,” said Authority board president and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann. “Submittal of our Prop 1 application, and release of the draft environmental documents, advances this critical project one step closer to construction, securing water sustainability and benefiting California’s economy and environment.”

“With the release of these documents as well as the extensive work already performed, the Sites Project Authority is well-positioned to request funding for the project under Proposition 1. Reclamation is pleased to provide technical assistance towards that effort, and proud of our partnership with the Sites Project Authority,” said Mid-Pacific Regional Director David Murillo.

Reclamation has also prepared a Draft Feasibility Report, which is a critical component of the Authority’s funding request submitted to the California Water Commission under Proposition 1. Reclamation’s planning process anticipates that, if constructed, the Sites Reservoir could be constructed with entirely non-federal funding.

The Authority is comprised of several Northern California public agencies who are motivated to build local water sustainability in a way that helps the state meet its overall water system needs.

The 90-day Draft EIR/EIS public review period provides an opportunity for regulatory agencies and the public to comment on the adequacy and completeness of the environmental analyses and proposed mitigation measures, helping inform project development.

Two public meetings will be held to provide information and an opportunity to learn more about the Sites Project and submit comments on the draft environmental documents:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Sites Project Authority Office
122 Old Highway 99 West
Maxwell, CA 95955
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, September 28, 2017
Sacramento Convention Center
1400 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
Room #306
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

The Draft EIR/EIS and more information about the environmental review process can be found online at: https://www.sitesproject.org/environmental-review/. For questions about the Sites Project or public meetings please contact: Janet Barbieri, Sites Project Authority, at 530-919-9306.

To view the complete Sites Prop 1 WSIP application, visit: https://www.sitesproject.org/environmental-review/wsip-application/ , and Reclamation’s Draft Feasibility Report is located here: https://www.sitesproject.org/information/FeasibilityReport .

Los Vaqueros Reservoir Expansion Seeking State Funding for Ecosystem Improvement and Emergency Response Benefits

From the Contra Costa Water District:

With $2.7 billion available in state funding available for water storage projects, Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) is working with partners to secure over $400 million to pay for public benefits of expanding the Los Vaqueros Reservoir. State funding could help build storage and other facilities that would provide substantial ecosystem and water supply reliability benefits.

Los Vaqueros Reservoir, in Brentwood, is owned and operated by CCWD. Efforts have been underway, with potential partners, to evaluate a Phase 2 expansion of Los Vaqueros from 160,000 acre-feet to 275,000 acre-feet. An expanded reservoir could provide varying levels of benefits for local partnering agencies, while maintaining all the existing benefits in which CCWD’s customers already invested.

“CCWD and its customers benefitted greatly from Los Vaqueros in the last drought and continuously benefit from the improved water quality the reservoir provides,” said CCWD Board President, Lisa Borba. “The potential expansion of Los Vaqueros into a regional facility presents a significant opportunity for our customers, the environment and local agency partners.”

More storage capacity and additional pipes to move water directly to partners could bolster preparedness for droughts, increase water deliveries to wildlife refuges, and provide additional Delta ecosystem improvements.

Potential beneficiaries include local water agencies and Central Valley wildlife refuges. While an expansion cannot meet every water service need for all agencies, it would give partners an additional tool to help deal with droughts and other challenges. An expansion will depend on a combination of local, state and federal investments – state funding is one component.

State funding for water storage projects will be administered by the California Water Commission. Only public benefits can qualify for the state funding approved by voters when Proposition 1 passed in 2014. CCWD has submitted an application on behalf of the potential partners for $434 million to fund the public benefits of the $914 million expansion project (estimated in 2015 dollars).

The majority of the public benefits would come by way of reliable water supplies for wildlife refuges that provide critical habitat for migratory birds and many other species dependent on the last remaining wetlands in the Central Valley. Additional public benefits include emergency response, fisheries protection, and recreation associated with an expanded reservoir.

The California Water Commission will be reviewing all applications for the Proposition 1 funding, with a preliminary eligibility and funding decision scheduled for June 2018.

For further information about the project and application, or to provide comments, please visit: www.ccwater.com/lvstudies.

San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority statement on on San Joaquin River Infrastructure Signing Ceremony

From the San Luis Delta-Mendota Water Authority:

Statement by Cannon Michael, Chairman:

Today’s signing ceremony for the Water Infrastructure Authority application marks an important milestone for the water users we serve. A diverse group of stakeholders have joined together in a bold effort to advance water storage for California. As chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, I am proud to be a part of this historic action,” said Cannon Michael, chairman of the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority.

Surface water is vital to California. From our agriculture to our information technology to environmental management, the cities, counties, tribes and public water agencies represented here share a common bond. That bond is the need for adequate and dependable water supplies. Thousands of farmers produce food and fiber on some of the most productive farmland anywhere for consumers that live right here in our back yard and around the world. And as the world leader in technology, Silicon Valley depends on adequate and dependable water supplies to fuel the innovation of the future.

“Temperance Flat Dam will enhance California’s water supply, both for economic purposes and also to provide important ecosystem benefits. Fisheries and wetlands, stream flow and riparian forests will all thrive in the future with the additional water this project will provide. It will also be an important part of our efforts to address climate change. If predictions are right, future storms will be warmer and wetter and our ability to depend on the Sierra snowpack will diminish. It is important to begin preparing for that today.

“We are confident that with projects like this, the Valley and the rest of California will be a better place for our farms, our communities, and the important ecosystem resources that contribute to our quality of life.”

 

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About News Worth Noting:  News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations.  News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms.  If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.

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