Click the link to read the article on the Sacramento Bee website (Dale Kasler). Here’s an excerpt:
In March the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency invited the backers of Sites Reservoir — a mammoth water storage project in the Sacramento Valley that’s being personally led by Durst — to apply for a $2.2 billion construction loan. The loan is far from a done deal, but the invitation means the EPA is seriously interested in backing the project, bringing Sites tantalizingly close to reality after years of planning.
“I was ecstatic. We finally convinced people this was a worthy project,” said Durst, chairman of the Sites Project Authority.
But the reservoir, planned for a spot straddling the Glenn-Colusa county line, 10 miles west of the Sacramento River, won’t dig California out of its current mega-drought. Even if all goes according to plan — a pretty big if — Sites wouldn’t finish construction until 2030. The status of Sites says a lot about how things stand in the third year of California’s terrible drought. There are no quick fixes, no immediate remedies. The only way out of this, for the time being, is conservation, forcing farmers and homeowners alike to make do with less water.
“What people have got to realize is,” Durst said, surveying one of his unplanted rice fields recently, “there’s no easy solutions left.”
A simple, non-controversial water project in rural south Sacramento County, designed to “bank” billions of gallons of water below ground as a reserve for drought periods, won’t be ready until late 2024. A more ambitious project, a multibillion-dollar recycling plant capable of putting a significant dent in the Los Angeles area’s water woes, is moving through the planning process but won’t produce drinkable water for another 10 years. The fact is, California is responding to the drought at something other than lightning speed. Its urban residents aren’t heeding Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call to cut their water usage by 15%. Since he made his plea last July, water savings total just 3%. And its public officials are struggling to get water-infrastructure projects over the finish line.