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May 8, 2018

CA Water Commission Moves Closer Toward Awarding Prop 1 Water Storage Funding

The California Water Commission last week reviewed and finalized determinations of eligibility among 11 water storage projects competing for $2.7 billion in bond funds authorized by voters in 2014.

WG submitted comments in August 2017 to the Commission in support of both the Sites Reservoir and Temperance Flat Reservoir projects and testified in support of these projects during the Commission’s meetings last week. Sites Reservoir, an off-stream facility that would store excess flows from the Sacramento River north of the Delta, would add up to 1.8 million acre feet of capacity, while Temperance Flat Reservoir, which would be located on the San Joaquin River, would create an additional 1.26 million acre feet of water storage.

The commissioners ultimately determined that the Sites project is eligible for $1 billion in bond money; the project’s proponents had applied for nearly $1.4 billion. Temperance Flat was deemed eligible for only $171 million, far short of the proponents’ application for just over $1 billion. Two other projects – expansion of Los Vaqueros Reservoir in the East Bay area and expansion of the Pacheco Reservoir in Santa Clara County – were deemed eligible for 100 percent of the proponents’ applications ($459 million and $484.5 million respectively).

Commissioners clearly struggled with the staff analysis of the Temperance Flat application, particularly a Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) finding that the application failed to demonstrate that the project would provide increased cold water benefits for spring run Chinook salmon. The bond act (passed as Proposition 1 in 2014) requires that ecosystem improvements for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta constitute at least half of a storage project’s public benefits, and the DFW’s position severely undercut the project’s viability. Despite discomfort among several commissioners, the staff recommendation was approved. Click here to view public benefits and eligible funding amounts for all applicants.

The Commission will release recommendations on May 25 for the remaining component scores: relative environmental value, resiliency and implementation risk. They will make final decisions on those scores at the commission’s June 27-29 meeting, and preliminary award decisions will be made in July.