Remember that joint powers authority (JPA) that made its way into the water bond section on operational improvement (mainly dams and reservoirs)?
Remember how the Legislature decided, on second thought, that this JPA was a really bad idea? It was such a bad idea that they introduced a bill – AB 2775 – to “surgically” remove it from the water bond. (See our June 23 edition click here
What’s the problem with a JPA? We’ve seen it used before, by the Kern Water Bank, to allow private investors to profit from public infrastructure investments. In the case of the water bond, it was clear to those monitoring the push for dams and reservoirs that the people who want to build Sites Reservoir wouldn’t be able to afford it without private investment.
AB 2775 is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee, going through the reading process. And of course, the water bond itself has been postponed.
Meanwhile, the Orland Press Register announced last week that seven entities would be signing the Sites Reservoir Joint-Powers Agreement. (Why wait?) The entities are Glenn and Colusa counties, Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District (GCID), the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority, Reclamation District 108, Maxwell Irrigation District, and the Yolo County Flood Control District.
As one veteran observer commented, “It’s never too early to form a JPA for an evaporation pond.” Meaning this may not be a wise place to store water.
The proposed Sites Reservoir is about 10 miles west of Maxwell in Northern California, on the east side of the Sacramento Valley. The Northern California Water Association (NCWA) says that Sites would be filled primarily by pumped diversions from the Sacramento River during peak flows in winter.
According to the NCWA website, “To minimize potential impacts of existing diversions on Sacramento River fisheries, Sites would release water back into valley conveyance systems (such as the Glenn Colusa Irrigation District Canal and Tehama Colusa Canal) in exchange for water that would otherwise have been diverted from the Sacramento River. This undiverted summer water could become available for other downstream uses in the Bay-Delta.”
Or somewhere else further south.
A reservoir at Sites was considered, and shelved, in 1970. DWR had looked at projected evaporation on another reservoir in the same location (Paskenta-Newville Reservoir) and reported that given the air temperature and winds off the backside of the coastal hills, Sites Reservoir would lose more in evaporation than it would make available for use elsewhere.
According to DWR Bulletin No. 73-1, evaporation at this location in the decade from 1960-1970 ranged from 73 to 96 inches a year. That’s 6-8 feet of water that would never make it to a crop (or a tap).
And that’s at last century’s temperatures, not the higher temperatures projected for this century.
Some knowledgeable people think this is actually a way to get water from the Eel River (despite Wild and Scenic Rivers Act protections) and make it available for the Central Valley and Westlands Water District.
Coincidentally, Thad Bettner, general manager of GCID, used to be the resource manager for Westlands Water District.