The December 26, 2015 Editorial in the Sacramento Bee, California needs to invest in Sites reservoir, was a welcome addition to the long discussion about the need for more dams in California.
The noted benefits—which are applicable to all dams—are, as the editorial notes:
“It would deliver benefits statewide by increasing water supply and, with proper management, providing versatility in water delivery for farms, cities and much-needed groundwater recharge. One of the more promising aspects of Sites is that a bloc of water would be allocated to the environment.”
The editorial also notes the cost effectiveness and having no negative impact on salmon.
“Constructing Sites would cost $3 billion to $4 billion, only a portion of which would be covered by the water bond. Other financing would come from people who benefit: farmers in the Sacramento Valley, farmers and cities south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
“Congress should help pay, as should environmental organizations. Proper operation of the reservoir would have downstream benefits for the Delta, waterfowl habitat and for fisheries.
“In considering Sites, cost effectiveness will weigh heavily as the commission seeks to get the biggest bang for 2.7 billion bucks earmarked for increased water storage. Sites would compete with other storage plans, including a Temperance Flat reservoir north of Fresno on the Upper San Joaquin River.
“Sites would provide a relatively modest amount of water to the state’s system. During summer months, about 500,000 acre-feet of water from Sites would be available for Northern California farmers, for transfers south and for projects to recharge depleted aquifers. By comparison, Shasta Lake holds 5.5 million acre-feet; Folsom Lake holds nearly 1 million acre-feet, less than Sites.
“But helping to tip the scale in favor of Sites, the reservoir would not require a dam on a river, and thus would not impede fish migration. Dams on rivers separate salmon from spawning grounds and have led to plummeting populations of the iconic fish.”
At capacity Sites would hold 1.8 million acre feet. By comparison Lake Shasta holds 5.5 million acre feet and Folsom Lake holds just under 1 million acre feet.
The big news here, of course, is that some local media has apparently come around to supporting building dams for water storage, and that is very good news.