Storing more water

Lake Oroville is one of California’s largest reservoirs for storing water. It has shrunk substantially in 2021. Image via NASA
Lake Oroville is one of California’s largest reservoirs for storing water. It has shrunk substantially in 2021. Image via NASA

Water suppliers have proposed more than 1,000 reservoirs in California to store water from surface rivers and streams. But they face uphill battles from the competing interests of environmentalists, farmers and city users. 

For instance, the controversial Sites Reservoir, proposed by a coalition of irrigation districts and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, could harm salmon and other fish in the Sacramento River and the Bay-Delta, according to state wildlife officials. Voters passed a $7.5 billion bond in 2014 to fund water projects such as the Sites Reservoir, which has been discussed since the 1950s. But none of the projects scheduled to receive that money have been built. Federal and state agencies are collecting public comments on the latest version of the Sites Reservoir project.