This past week Governor Gavin Newsom took action to accelerate the Sites Reservoir project, utilizing new tools from the infrastructure streamlining package to build more faster. This project, if ultimately approved, would capture water during wet seasons and store it for use during drier seasons – holding up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water. The project has received a total of $46.75 million in early funding from the state. In all, Sites is eligible for $875.4 million of Proposition 1 funding. Total project cost is estimated at $4 billion.
HOW IT WORKS:
- SB 149 allows the Governor to certify qualifying infrastructure projects for judicial streamlining under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
- Courts must decide CEQA challenges to certified projects within 270 days to the extent feasible – saving months or even years of litigation delays after a project has already passed environmental review, while still allowing legal challenges to be heard.
WHY IT’S IMPORTANT:
- Just last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Sites Project Authority finalized the Environmental Impact Review and Environmental Impact Statement for the project.
- The project will help California maintain a resilient water supply in the face of climate change, weather extremes, and water scarcity.
- Sites Reservoir is critical to California’s Water Supply Strategy and meeting the state’s goal of expanding above and below ground water storage capacity by 4 million acre feet.