UPDATE – Governor’s plan includes new dams for California

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposes a $4.5 billion bond issue to build a comprehensive water storage and conveyance system that reportedly includes two new dams.

Beginning his second term in office, Schwarzenegger called for an investment in water storage facilities in his State of the State address Jan. 9. He said new infrastructure would address California’s critical need to compensate for decreasing snowpacks he linked to global warming and runoff that otherwise would not be captured. The governor’s office said trends and climate models suggest a loss of at least 25 percent of snowmelt runoff by 2050.

In a 2007-2008 spending plan, Schwarzenegger proposes the bonds to fund projects supplying up to 3 million more acre-feet of surface water storage and up to 500,000 acre-feet of annual supply. The plan also calls for ground water storage that would hold 500,000 acre-feet in annual water supply.

�This funding is critical to upgrade our water infrastructure so the next generation of Californians is not faced with a shortage of this precious resource,� Schwarzenegger said. �We need a modern, comprehensive approach to addressing our growing water needs that includes storage, conveyance, and conservation.�

Schwarzenegger did not identify dams and storage facilities by name but did pledge to work with Republican leaders such as Assemblyman Michael Villines who have made building water storage a top priority in 2007. Villines is co-sponsor of legislation (AB 41) that identifies Temperance Flat and Sites projects as holding great promise for providing new surface storage.

Most of the bond money would be used to build Sites Dam and Reservoir in Colusa County, about 60 miles northwest of Sacramento, and Temperance Flat Dam and Reservoir, near Friant Dam in Fresno County, according to news reports. (HNN 1/9/07) Friant Dam is a main feature of 1,844-MW Central Valley Project’s Friant Division.

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 Association of California Water Agencies issued a statement Jan. 10 agreeing with the governor that the state must invest in surface reservoirs and water storage. ACWA, a statewide group of public agencies whose members deliver water, also said only surface storage reservoirs can adequately replace snowpack storage expected to be lost to climate change.

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