By Drew Bollea

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It’s been decades since a major water storage reservoir has been built in California. Now the August deadline for the Sites Reservoir Project is closing in.

As feet of snow melt under intense heat, supporters of the Sites Reservoir are pushing for a way to save more water.

“We feel prepared to submit an application and all the documentation that goes along with it,” said Thad Bettner of the Glenn Colusa Irrigation District.

The deadline to apply for funding is in August. Voters approved a more than $7 billion water bond in 2014 in the worst of California’s drought, which would potentially offset the cost of a new reservoir.

“Sites would provide significant public benefit,” said Bettner.

Bettner says since October, more than 9 million acre-feet of water has passed through Sacramento watershed’s main stem, Which runs from Lake Shasta to the Delta.

“We could have filled Sites four times with as much water was water that was coming down the system,” said Bettner.

The Sites project has been surveyed, studied and debated for decades. Congressional leaders are trying to speed things up.

“HR 1654 will bring order from this bureaucratic chaos,” said Rep. Tom McClintock during an April Natural Resources Committee meeting.

McClintock says his bill would streamline the federal permitting process for new water storage projects. The House will vote on the bill on Thursday.

“Fewer delays, more efficient use of tax payer dollars, and ultimately, more abundant water supplies,” said McClintock.

But when it comes to Sites, the language moving forward may need to be reworked.

“The project has to sit on federal land and unfortunately Sites does not sit on federal land. It’s on private land,” explained Bettner.

He says property owners are tired of waiting in limbo and are looking for a resolution.

“They want to see the project go or not and not see the talks continue for another 10, 20, 30 years,” said Bettner.

If the project is ultimately approved, construction on a new reservoir would begin in 2022.


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