Sacramento River, seen in Redding, California.

Progress Made on Sites Reservoir Project Development

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its intent to help fund the Sites Reservoir Project. EPA has invited sponsors of the project to apply for a nearly $2.2 billion loan through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). It will be the largest loan made through the WIFIA program once finalized. Sites Project Authority Chairman Fritz Durst said that the importance of the announcement from EPA “cannot be overstated.” The Sites project is a proposed off-stream water storage facility that will capture and store stormwater flows from the Sacramento River.

Sites Reservoir Project

“For Sites Reservoir to be built – bringing substantial and critical environmental benefits to California – it has to be affordable for our participants. This loan can get us there,” Durst said in a press release. “We thank our federal partners and the Biden Administration for supporting Sites Reservoir in such a meaningful way.”

Initially proposed in the 1950s, the reservoir would have the capacity to store up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water.  The Sites Reservoir Project was one of 40 projects selected nationwide to apply for a WIFIA loan. The Sites Project Authority had initially submitted a letter of intent to apply for WIFIA funding in July of last year. A loan through the WIFIA program would dramatically reduce the costs to participants by about 10 percent. The project has also already received $816 million in voter approved bond funding, as well as a $450 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“With this $2.2 billion in additional federal financing, we have now secured the public funding necessary to start construction of Sites Reservoir. I am now calling on Governor Newsom to direct the state agencies to finally complete the permitting process for the Sites Reservoir Project,” said Congressman John Garamendi. “After years of planning, it is time to finish the state permitting process and build the first major new reservoir in California since 1999.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West