New California Water Storage Project Moves One Step Closer to Reality

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) formally invited the Sites Project Authority to apply for a $2.2 billion low-interest loan through the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), which would bring the project significantly closer to construction and completion.  A loan through the WIFIA program could dramatically reduce the costs to participants, making it more affordable for cities, farms, and resource managers to have access to more water in dry years. Sites Reservoir is significant for California and the nation, and a substantial loan through the WIFIA program will help us realize the many environmental and water supply benefits of this project. Sites Reservoir is a beneficiary pays project, which means that the loan will be repaid by project participants.  “The significance of this opportunity cannot be overstated,” said Fritz Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority. “We thank our federal partners and the Biden Administration for supporting Sites Reservoir in such a meaningful way.”
Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by the US EPA. WIFIA’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost federal loans for regionally and nationally significant projects. The Sites Project Authority submitted a letter of intent to apply in July 2021.  WIFIA funding helps finance drought resiliency projects as well as clean water and safe drinking water infrastructure projects across the United States. After a robust statutorily required review process, the WIFIA Selection Committee selected Sites Reservoir to apply for a loan.  “For Sites Reservoir to be built – bringing substantial and critical environmental benefits to California – it has to be affordable for our participants. This loan can get us there,” added Durst.  Sites Reservoir is an off-stream water storage facility that will create resiliency against the impacts of climate change. The reservoir does not dam a major river system and would not block fish migration or spawning. Sites Reservoir captures and stores stormwater flows from the Sacramento River —after all other water rights and regulatory requirements are met—for release primarily in dry and critical years for environmental use and for California communities, farms, and businesses when it is so desperately needed.