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California Awards $2.7 Billion to Water Storage Facilities
"For the first time since California’s dam-building boom ended nearly a half century ago, state officials on Tuesday approved a windfall of cash for new water storage projects, setting the stage for at least a mini-resurgence of reservoir construction," reports Kurtis Alexander.
In all, the state awarded $2.7 billion of money generated by Proposition 1, approved by voters in 2014 at the height of the state's historic drought. The money will elevate two existing dams, at Los Vaqueros Reservoir near Livermore and Pacheco Reservoir east of Gilroy, and build two much larger dams in the Central Valley, the 13-mile-long Sites Reservoir along the Sacramento River and 18-mile-long Temperance Flat Reservoir on the San Joaquin River. In all, eight projects received funding, including some underground water storage projects.
In a separate article, Dale Kaslow and Ryan Sabalow report on the details of the Site Reservoir. The California Water Commission gave $816 million to the Site Reservoir, but "[d]espite the nine-figure award, Sites’ project managers weren’t pleased with the amount of funding for their $5.2 billion project. The decision by the Water Commission represents about half of what Sites’ backers originally had sought." The article also notes that the project's remaining funding will come from individual water agencies. "Sacramento Valley agricultural districts are the reservoir’s primary supporters, but farm and urban water agencies from Fresno to Los Angeles also have pledged tentatively to invest."
Yet another article by Sean Bothwell, policy director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, pens an opinion piece about the side of the water supply equation that doesn't include building above-ground storage facilities. In Bothwell's take, Proposition 1 is responsible for investments in "brackish water desalination, sustainable groundwater management, agricultural water efficiency, recycled water and stormwater capture." That article expresses optimism for the future of California water supply in a future defined by extreme weather—all without mentioning the new water storage the state has committed this week.