PressRelease: Sites Project Authority Announces Opening of New Leadership Role

By Sarah December 27, 2019

Sites Project Authority Announces Opening of New Leadership Role in Preparation for Next Project Phase

Leadership Structure Designed to Meet Challenges for Phase 3 of the Project


Sacramento, Calif. – In response to a comprehensive organizational assessment directed by the Sites Project Authority and Reservoir Committee membership, the Sites Project Authority announced today that it will be hiring for an executive director position in early 2020. The results of the assessment indicated the need for an executive director to complete Phase 2 of the project and set the stage for the next phase. The Authority has retained Avery Associates to recruit for the position.

“This new role is designed to meet the needs of the next project phase so we can get closer to the finish line,” said Fritz Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority. “Sites Reservoir is a critical tool for managing water supplies in dry years and adapting to climate change, and we’re committed to having the leadership and expertise we need to get it built.”

The Sites Project Authority executive director will be responsible for navigating California’s complex regulatory landscape, securing project permits as well as financing, and completing the environmental review process. The executive director will also be responsible for cultivating critical partnerships established in the first phase of the project and managing a 31-person governance structure.

Jim Watson has successfully led Sites as general manager since August 2015. Mr. Watson will serve as interim executive director while the search is underway and will continue to provide senior level support during this next phase.

Sites Reservoir continues to gain momentum with pre-permitting consultation and financing decisions underway. Participating agencies along with local, state and federal agencies are working now to “rightsize” the reservoir. Given the myriad factors associated with a multi-jurisdictional, multi-billion-dollar project, along with a changing climate and fluctuating permit conditions, it’s critical that the final design and operational criteria can adapt to these elements. Rightsizing the reservoir is necessary to ensure the project can be advanced with robust partnerships between local, state and federal agencies in place. It’s also critical to securing the final permits for the project.

The Sites Project Authority and Reservoir Committee will be developing an update to the strategic plan early in 2020.

Located 10 miles west of the town of Maxwell in rural Glenn and Colusa counties, the Sites Reservoir would be an off-stream storage facility that captures and stores stormwater flows in the Sacramento River—after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met—for release in dry and critical years for environmental use and for California communities, farms and businesses when it is so desperately needed.

Now more than ever, California needs to address its statewide water management challenges by implementing innovative solutions that address our state’s need for a sustainable and affordable water supply. Managing our state’s water resources remains one of the greatest challenges that will continue to face California policy makers well into the future. The state’s water infrastructure is getting older and stressed beyond its capabilities. Sites Reservoir will provide a new water supply for both people and the environment, and significantly improve the state’s water management system in drier periods and restore much needed flexibility and reliability that has been lost in the system.

Sites is an off-stream reservoir proposed north of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where it would provide unique water supply and environmental benefits during dry and critical water years, and especially during extended drought periods. Additional information can be found at or on Facebook and Twitter at @SitesProject.

Download a PDF of this news release here.