Jun 4, 2024

Sites Reservoir project clears hurdle thanks to streamlining law

What you need to know: Governor Newsom’s infrastructure streamlining law, which reduces delays caused by CEQA litigation, led to a prompt court ruling supporting the Sites Reservoir project. The reservoir will store enough water to support 3 million households’ yearly usage.

SACRAMENTO — The Sites Reservoir project cleared a major hurdle after Governor Gavin Newsom had streamlined the project late last year, overcoming a CEQA challenge and gaining full approval from the Yolo County Superior Court.

Governor Newsom’s infrastructure streamlining law requires that courts must decide CEQA challenges within 270 days to the extent feasible. Today’s decision occurred within 148 days.

“California needs more water storage, and we have no time to waste – projects like the Sites Reservoir will capture rain and snow runoff to supply millions of homes with clean drinking water. We’re approaching this work with urgency, everything from water storage to clean energy and transportation projects.”
Governor Gavin Newsom

The Sites Reservoir will capture water during wet seasons and store it for use during drier seasons – holding up to 1.5 million acre-feet of water, enough for 3 million households’ yearly usage. It has received a total of $46.75 million in early funding from the state. In all, Sites is eligible for $875.4 million of Proposition 1 funding. Total project cost is estimated at $4 billion.

How it works

  • SB 149 allows the Governor to certify qualifying infrastructure projects for judicial streamlining under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).
  • Courts must decide CEQA challenges to certified projects within 270 days to the extent feasible – saving months or even years of litigation delays after a project has already passed environmental review, while still allowing legal challenges to be heard.

Why it’s important

  • The project will help California maintain a resilient water supply in the face of climate change, weather extremes, and water scarcity.
  • Sites Reservoir is critical to California’s ​​Water Supply Strategy and meeting our goal of expanding above and below ground water storage capacity by 4 million acre feet.

How we got here

  • Governor Newsom signed into law a package of bills to accelerate critical infrastructure projects across California that will help build our 100% clean electric grid, ensure safe drinking water and boost the state’s water supply, and modernize our transportation system.
  • By streamlining permitting, cutting red tape, and allowing state agencies to use new project delivery methods, these new laws will maximize taxpayer dollars and accelerate timelines of projects throughout the state, while ensuring appropriate environmental review and community engagement.
  • The package will take full advantage of an unprecedented $180 billion in state, local, and federal infrastructure funds over the next ten years while creating an estimated 400,000 good-paying jobs.