Conservation and fishing groups condemn the approval of EIR reservoir sites by the project authority board

Conservation and fishing groups condemn the approval of EIR reservoir sites by the project authority board

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Regulatory capture by Big Ag and Big Water is an unfortunate fact of life in “green” and “progressive” California.

That’s why the Newsom administration has touted the environmentally destructive Delta Tunnel project and “voluntary agreements” — and why today members of the Sites Project Authority Board, made up of representatives of the water agencies that would benefit From the project, a unanimous vote was taken to certify the sites’ environmental impact report just two weeks after the public was given access to the documents.

After the vote, representatives of the Sites Project Board of Directors spoke enthusiastically about their unanimous decision to certify what environmental advocates call the “Boondoggle Reservoir Sites.”

“Over the past six years, we have conducted one of the most comprehensive environmental analyzes ever undertaken of a water supply project to design a project that can meet the needs of California’s communities, farms and environment,” said Fritz Durst, president of the site company. Board of Directors of the Projects Authority. “Sites Reservoir is a new way of managing water designed to provide flexibility and reliability amid our changing climate.”

Dorsett represents Reclamation District No. 108, located along the western edge of the Sacramento River. The district supplies water to approximately 48,000 acres of farmland within southern Colusa County and northern Yolo County. RD 108 receives water from the Sacramento River under riparian water rights, surface water taking permits, and a settlement contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation: rd108.org/…

“Sites Reservoir is truly a product of collaboration,” said Jerry Brown, executive director of the Sites Project Authority. “The project would not have been possible without the support of participants and government partners, all of whom recognize the unique benefits of Sites Reservoir.

“During the multi-year environmental process, we also took into account and incorporated feedback from a wide range of stakeholders, and we have a better project because of it,” Brown added. “This has allowed us to put forward a project that is affordable, permittable, and buildable, one that will benefit The entire state of California.

The council argued that creating the sites would increase water supplies throughout California and provide, for the first time, “environmental benefits by storing water specifically for the environment to support local wildlife and their habitats during droughts.”

They also said the 1.5 million-acre off-stream water storage project, located on the western side of the Sacramento Valley in Colusa and Glenn counties, “is being developed to increase California’s water and climate resilience while also protecting and enhancing the environment.” “.

However, a coalition of environmental organizations, including Friends of the River (FOR), the Sierra Club, and the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, unanimously strongly condemned the decision in a statement.

They also criticized the Newsom administration’s decision to use Senate Bill (SB) 149 to speed up the sites though The project does not meet legal standards From SB 149 Infrastructure Streamlining Program.

“Unfortunately, this testimony was a foregone conclusion,” the groups said. “It is not surprising that the beneficiaries of this environmental project would vote in favor of certifying the environmental documents and thus move one step closer to construction. However, it is a dangerous precedent set by the Newsom administration and these public agencies for a project like Sites to be approved, which has been proven many times to be “Harmful to the delta, the climate crisis, and our water future, too quickly and too quickly. Without enough time for public review.”

As a coalition, FOR and its allies have argued that sites are not a 21st century solution for the following reasons:

  1. “The sites reservoir will add less than 1% to the state’s water supply on average, but will allow project proponents to exploit the water for profit during drought.
  2. Reservoir sites would harm the Sacramento River and Bay Delta ecosystems by drawing water even during the driest years.
  3. The reservoir sites will produce approximately 362 million metric tons of CO2 or 362,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. This equates to 80,000 gasoline-powered passenger cars per year.
  4. Sites Reservoir is a continuation of the same poor water management strategies that caused the water crisis, harming Californians and underserved communities. we’ve got Better alternatives.
  5. Sites will not prioritize water for environmental benefits. Instead, each investor is allowed to manage its own storage space independently, with California’s environmental water block given uniform treatment.

In response to today’s approval… “Despite the emergence of consensus and kind words about teamwork and environmental benefits at today’s meeting, the environmental community continues to oppose the Sites Reservoir project due to countless damages,” said Kiko Mertz, Policy Director at Friends of the River (FOR). It is expensive and will not provide net environmental benefits or significant increases in water supplies.While today’s vote was never in doubt, it is still disappointing to see this project evade public scrutiny at every turn.

Chris Shots, executive director of the California Fishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), also criticized the project’s approval.

Project sites will kill more fish faster. It is a water supply box to keep the water from over-diverting. The only modern element is the deceptive eco-branding.”

“Building new dams and reservoirs at the expense of healthy watersheds is not a modern solution to California’s water resilience challenges,” said Erin Woolley, senior policy strategist at the Sierra Club. “Restoring the San Francisco Bay Delta must include restoring instream flows to support the recovery of local fish and wildlife, and protecting water quality for local communities. Sites Reservoir is an expensive and environmentally damaging proposal, one that will be paid for by taxpayers, Southern California water users and the species the project claims to benefit.” .

Coalition members pledged that they “will continue to work together to stop the environmentally destructive Reservoir Project and provide sustainable solutions for California’s water future.”

Approval of the project could not come at a worse time for California’s fish populations and the San Francisco Delta Bay ecosystem. Recreational and commercial salmon fishing in ocean waters is prohibited in California and most of Oregon, while recreational salmon fishing is closed in all state rivers, due to the collapse of the Klamath/Trinity River Chinook populations. The Hoopa Valley tribe on the Trinity River and the Yurok tribe on the Klamath River are limited to a very small amount of fish.

Meanwhile, the Sacramento River’s winter-run Chinook populations and spring-run Chinook populations continue to move closer and closer to extinction, while the delta smelt, once the most abundant fish in the entire estuary, is becoming virtually extinct in the wild. CDFW’s fall midwater trawl survey found no delta scent in five years. Massive water exports from the Delta to agribusiness and water agencies in Southern California top the list of factors causing fish populations to collapse.

The Siting Authority’s Board of Directors, Associate Members, and Reservoirs Commission representatives represent the most prominent figures in California’s water agencies—and a classic example of regulatory capture by Big Ag and Big Water. Among them are the following representatives of water contractors who will benefit from the project:

Members of the Board of Directors of the Sites Authority
Fritz Dorst, Chairman of Reclamation District 108
Gray Allen, Placer County/City of Roseville Water Agency
Logan Dennis, Glen Colusa Irrigation District
Gary Evans, Colusa County
Kerry Schmitz, City of Sacramento/Sacramento County Water Agency
Joe Marsh, Colusa County Water District
(Thomas Arnold, Glynn County).
Doug Parker, Westside Water District
Jeff Sutton, vice president of the Tehama-Colusa Canal Authority
Don Bader – US Bureau of Reclamation (cost partner, non-voting)
Rob Cook – California Department of Water Resources (ex officio, non-voting)

Associate members
Greg Johnson, Western Canal Water District

Representatives of the Treasury Committee
Jason Holley, American Valley City
Matt Knudson, Antelope Valley – East Kern Water Agency
Greg Krzys, Glen Colusa Irrigation District
Lance Eckhart, San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency
Jimmy Trenham, treasurer of the Davis Water District
Mike Azevedo, Deputy Chief, Colusa County
Robert Cheng, Coachella Valley Water District
Zach Dennis, LaGrande Water District
Valerie Pryor, District 7 Water Agency Chief
Cindy Kao, Santa Clara Valley Water District
Mark Krause, Desert Water Agency
Robert Conde, Wheeler Ridge Maricopa Water Storage District
Steve Cole, Santa Clarita Valley Water District
Shelley Murphy, Colusa County Water District
Allen Myers, West Side Water District
Randall Newdick, Metropolitan Water District
Jim Peterson, Cortina Water District
Bob Tincher, San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District
Bill VanderWaal, Reclamation District 108 and Donegan Water District
Trent Taylor, Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District
Paul Weghorst, Irvine Ranch Water District

For more information about Boondoggle Reservoir locations, visit: https://www.friendsoftheriver.org/our-work/rivers-under-threat/sacramento-threat-sites/

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