Bill would authorize bonds for new California dams

A bill introduced by California legislators Jan. 11 would authorize the sale of nearly $6 billion in bonds for water improvement projects, including the construction of two new dams and reservoirs.

Implementing a proposal in Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Jan. 9 State of the State message, Senate Bill 59 identifies the proposed reservoir projects as Sites Dam and Reservoir on the Sacramento River and Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir on the San Joaquin River. (HNN 1/10/07)

The Reliable Water Supply Bond Act of 2008 would authorize the sale of $3.95 billion in general obligation bonds and $2 billion in revenue bonds to increase surface water storage, groundwater, and conjunctive use, encouraging water use efficiency and environmental restoration programs.

Sites Dam would divert water from the Sacramento River to form Sites Reservoir. A new dam on the San Joaquin River would create Temperance Flat Reservoir. Although there has been no mention of hydropower generation at either project, the reservoirs could be expected to store a total of 3 million acre-feet.

The bill would require California’s secretary of state to submit the bond act to voters at a Nov. 4, 2008, statewide general election. No bonds could be issued until contracts are in place for 75 percent of the developed water, Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, a principal co-author of the legislation, said.

Another co-author, Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, noted 25 years have passed since the state last built a reservoir to help address ever-increasing water supply needs. She pointed out during that period California’s population increased by more than 15 million people. Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, another co-author, said he hopes construction of the additional water storage capacity can begin before the end of this decade.

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