About Sites Reservoir

A Flexible Storage Solution

Sites Reservoir does not rely on snow-melt but captures winter runoff from uncontrolled streams below the existing reservoirs in the Sacramento Valley. Because of this, it will inherently adapt to future climate conditions and will be operated to improve water supply resilience to the predicted changes in weather. Much of the rainfall from extreme events – especially those that occur back-to-back when the ground is saturated – runs off before it can be captured for maximum environmental, urban and agricultural benefit. Sites Reservoir will increase the resiliency of water supplies because it will not rely on spring snowmelt for filling but instead will capture storm-related runoff and a portion of storm-related flood water.

By operating in conjunction with other California reservoirs, Sites Reservoir substantially increases water supply flexibility, reliability, and resiliency in drier years. Sites Reservoir is the only proposed storage facility in the State of California that will help with statewide operational effectiveness of the State Water Project and Central Valley Project.


The Sites Project Authority will build and operate a climate-resilient, 21st Century water storage system to responsibly manage and deliver water, improve the environment, and provide flood control and recreational benefits.


Affordable water sustainably managed for California’s farms, cities, and environment for generations to come.


To fulfill its mission, the partners and staff of the Authority uphold these central values:

  • Safety. Design, construction, and operation of the reservoir will satisfy all federal, state, and local requirements and exceed standards for public safety and security.
  • Trust and Integrity. The Authority is committed to operating with integrity, thoughtful information and analysis, and open and transparent communications and decision-making.
  • Respect for Local Communities. The Authority recognizes the significant contributions of local Sacramento Valley landowners and communities and will be a respectful, supportive partner and be a good neighbor throughout the project.
  • Environmental Stewardship. The Authority views itself as a partner with the environment with a firm duty to act as a responsible steward of natural resources.
  • Shared Responsibility for Shared Benefits. Decisions and actions will rely on a collaborative, inclusive approach that honors, balances, and leverages the active roles and contributions of partners, stakeholders, and ratepayers.
  • Accountability and Transparency. Efficiency, fiscal responsibility, equitable cost allocation, and transparency will guide the decisions, expenditures, communications, and activities of the Authority.
  • Proactive Innovation. A nimble, responsive culture will be cultivated to provide innovative solutions in delivering the reservoir’s multiple benefits over the next century and beyond.
  • Diversity and Inclusivity. In carrying out its mission, the Authority will foster inclusion, respect, and appreciation for the state’s diverse demographics and geographies to create a project serving all of California.


The Authority is committed to achieving these overarching goals and objectives in building and operating a 21st Century reservoir that will serve water needs throughout the state.



Secure Commitments for Project Funding

A. Agree on water service contracts with local agency participants and secure project financing.

B. Secure a final funding agreement with the California Water Commission for the remainder of the $875 million conditionally approved for the project in July 2018.

C. Secure federal funding from the WIIN Act and other sources.


Secure the Agreements and Permits Necessary to Build and Operate a Multi-Benefit Reservoir

A. Negotiate final operations agreements with federal, state, and local partners.

B. Complete environmental review and secure permits for construction and operation.

C. Complete Tribal, landowner, and local agency agreements.


Complete Facilities Designs that Efficiently Manage Risks and Achieve Affordability Criteria

A. Complete feasibility-level design and provide construction and operations costs certainty.

B. Complete final design, value engineering, and risk management plan.

C. Complete construction and operational commissioning.


Strengthen the Organization as Owner of a $3.5 Billion Project

A. Delegate decision responsibilities and clarify working relationships to secure project approvals and agreements.

B. Develop and define the organizational culture, values, and management approaches.

C. Develop governance structures and staffing plans for future phases.

Why is “Off-stream” So Important?

Reservoirs of the past were built by damming across naturally flowing rivers to hold the water back, and drowning the river and its ecosystem in the process. Off-stream means that Sites Reservoir will not dam, or in any way impede any river or streambed. In fact, Sites Reservoir will provide dramatic benefits to the ecosystem.

In dry and critical years, Sites Reservoir will provide an additional 250,000 to 300,000 acre-feet of cold-water pools to help critically endangered salmon and improve water quality conditions.

  • Groundwater sustainability requires effective groundwater recharge. Sites Reservoir can help store and then move water where and when it’s needed for recharge projects.

  • Salmon need cold water to survive in the late summer and fall. If water for agriculture and Delta water quality came from Sites Reservoir, cold water pools in Shasta and Oroville could be preserved.

  • Sites Reservoir would increase Northern California’s water storage capacity by up to 15 percent.

  • Climate change is creating a new normal: less snow-pack and flashier rainfall. Sites Reservoir is ideally located to maximize the capture and storage of rain.

  • Sites Reservoir will enhance the state’s management system for maximizing the capture of flood flows while minimizing impacts to the region. Sites Reservoir will not be subject to traditional winter flood control releases, like Shasta and Oroville, which adds resiliency during long, dry periods that often follow a wet winter.

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