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An Update on the Sites Reservoir Water Right Permit Process

Sites Reservoir reached a critical milestone in May of this year when the Sites Project Authority submitted its water right application to the State Water Resources Control Board. A requirement for the Project to advance, the water right permit process is complex and sometimes iterative. It requires careful analysis and deliberate consideration.

The Authority recently received a response letter from the State Board indicating they had accepted the application and determined that the Authority needed to supply additional information as part of the permitting process. It is fairly common for the State Board to request additional information from applicants. In fact, we’re not aware of any applications receiving a finding of sufficiency on the first submittal.  Some applications take years to be found complete.

We are currently working on the response to the State Board and are confident we can provide the information needed to secure the Project’s water right permit.

In an abundance of caution, the State Board has asked us to provide additional detail demonstrating that water will be available to divert into Sites Reservoir. We are in the process of preparing the requested materials.  Each of the analyses conducted to date have determined water is available to support the Project.  In fact, the average annual estimated quantities of available water exceed Sites Reservoir’s average annual needs by 3 to almost 4.5 times, based on highly conservative methodologies in analyzing the data AND after considering the effects of a changing climate and other anticipated future changed conditions.

In the midst of a devastating drought, we know our participants and stakeholders throughout the state are eager to see Sites proceed. Time is of the essence in getting this Project into operation so we can start healing some of what ails our State’s water management. And like the State Board, we too see the Sites Project as a big investment and believe there is need to approach the State Board’s review cautiously.  Finding the right balance between caution and urgency needs to be a shared focus.  It is our hope that having this additional information in the record should help to alleviate concerns and speed up the process later.

As we advance, we will continue to keep stakeholders informed and encourage everyone to visit sitesproject.org for updates and current information.

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