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.


To be a proponent and facilitator to design and potentially acquire, construct, manage, govern, and operate Sites Reservoir and related facilities; to increase and develop water supplies; to improve the operation of the state’s water system; and to provide a net improvement in ecosystem and after quality conditions in the Sacramento River system and the Delta.


Fulfill state and federal mandates to provide a new supply of safe, reliable, affordable water. Sites Reservoir will augment water delivery reliability to agricultural and urban water users while adding environmental flows that benefit the Delta and Sacramento Valley watershed ecosystems. Sites will enhance the state water system, providing flexible and resilient storage under future climate change conditions.

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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